Matariki Public Holiday Bill has first reading in Parliament

The Matariki Public Holiday Bill has had its first reading in Parliament. Pictured: People watch the dawn of Matariki at the New Plymouth Astronomical Society. (File photo)
Leith Roberston
The Matariki Public Holiday Bill has had its first reading in Parliament. Pictured: People watch the dawn of Matariki at the New Plymouth Astronomical Society. (File photo)

A public holiday celebrating Matariki, Māori new year, is one step closer after the bill had its first reading in Parliament.

Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan said the first reading on Thursday was a significant step towards the Government’s commitment to establishing a public holiday which celebrated Matariki.

“Matariki will be our first public holiday that recognises Te Ao Māori and will be one that is uniquely ours,” Allan said.

The calendar date for the Matariki public holiday will shift each year to align with the maramataka (Māori lunar calendar) and will always be on a Friday.

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Matariki fireworks in Wellington. (File photo)
ROSA WOODS/Stuff
Matariki fireworks in Wellington. (File photo)

“During the rise of Matariki this year, the dates for the Matariki Public Holiday for the next 30 years were announced. I know many people are looking forward to the first Matariki Public Holiday on 24 June 2022,” Allan said.

“We are grateful to have had the guidance of the Matariki Advisory Group,” she said. “Their advice has shaped the Bill and our views about the Matariki Public Holiday itself. Because of their work, and their willingness to share their expertise, mātauranga Māori has been at the heart of decision-making on the new public holiday.”

The bill, called Te Pire mō te Hararei Tūmatanui o Te Kāhui o Matariki / Te Kāhui o Matariki Public Holiday Bill, is in both te reo Māori and English – the fifth piece of dual-language legislation.

The first reading provides the first chance to debate a bill in the House. At the end of the debate the House decides if it should progress, and if it passes, it is usually referred to a select committee to be considered in more detail.

The bill will now be considered by the Māori Affairs Select Committee.