One Māori business owner says “it’s ridiculous” that the Māori New Year Matariki is not already a public holiday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that Labour would make Matariki the country’s 12th public holiday from 2022 if it is re-elected.
Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Brett O’Riley said businesses would see it as another cost and it would be unlikely to encourage more domestic tourism.
“We understand the cultural argument about Matariki being considered important enough for a public holiday, but it could have been exchanged with one of the other public holidays,” O’Riley said.
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He said the Government should priortise fixing the “dysfunctional” Holidays Act instead.
“We need to see a simplified and streamlined process for calculating entitlements and creating efficiencies for business.”
But Awwa founder Michele Wilson (Tainui, Ngāti Paoa) said she fully supported celebrating Matariki as an additional public holiday and was not concerned about the additional cost to her business.
“As a business I need to celebrate the Pakeha New Year, which really doesn’t have any cultural significance other than making resolutions and having a big party, I think culturally for New Zealand. the celebration of Matariki is really important,” Wilson said.
The new winter public holiday would fall at some point during the Matariki period, with an expectation that it would always happen on either a Monday or a Friday.
Wilson said the public holiday would encourage people to educated themselves about the cultural significance of Matariki.
“The lead-up to Matariki is an important time for my personal and business goals. I think it’s ridiculous that it’s not a public holiday yet,” Wilson said.
“I don’t think we should replace Matariki with another holiday because it defeats the purpose of our two cultures coming together as one.”
In July, Stuff launched a campaign to make Matariki a public holiday, arguing New Zealand was overdue for the creation of a unifying holiday that honoured Aotearoa’s past and celebrated New Zealand’s future.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts welcomed the idea of a new public holiday to break up the long gap between Queen’s Birthday weekend in June and Labour Weekend in October.
“We know that the visitor spend over a long weekend is two to three times a standard weekend because it gives people the incentive to take a trip to other parts of New Zealand.”
Rotorua’s Treewalk co-founder Bruce Thomasen backed the Matariki plan calling it an “excellent idea”.
“Though my preference would be 2021 we’re here for a marathon, not a sprint,” Thomasen said.
Thomasen said that typically tourism focused businesses could see as much as a 300 per cent spike in business over long weekends.