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Mayor Joins Call For Matariki Public Holiday

Media release: Monday 22 June


Waitakere Mayor Joins Call For Matariki Public Holiday

Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey is calling for a public holiday to mark Matariki – the Maori New Year.

Matariki officially begins on Wednesday morning, the first day of the new moon following the rise of the Pleiades star cluster in New Zealand skies and events to mark Matariki take place throughout New Zealand from June 24 to July 24.

In his report to Waitakere City Council’s meeting on Wednesday night, Mayor Bob Harvey seeks a recommendation that council’s Te Taumata Runanga urge the New Zealand Government to make Matariki a stand-alone public holiday.

“I have long been a supporter of the Matariki revival,” Mr Harvey says. “This is an event that only New Zealand can celebrate. It’s our very own. It is a festival born of our unique heritage, our culture, our land. It is more ‘us’ than our June public holiday, Queen’s Birthday.”

Mr Harvey's recommendation for a public holiday to recognise Matariki has been discussed by Toi Whenua for a number of years as a natural extension to the current Matariki celebrations. Toi Whenua is the group which has brought together four of Auckland’s councils – Waitakere, Auckland City, North Shore and Manukau – to present Matariki Festival 09.

“Bob Harvey has been a long-time supporter of Matariki,” says Toi Whenua spokesperson Rewi Spraggon. “The Maori Language Commission has been campaigning for a Matariki public holiday for nearly 10 years and now is the time to make it happen.

“Matariki is now widely celebrated by Maori and non-Maori alike with concerts, family events and forums; school children learn about it in the classroom and we believe it is something unique to our country which all New Zealanders should celebrate.”

Mr Harvey advocates that a public holiday to celebrate Matariki is marked on the day of the first new moon after the appearance of the Matariki stars. He is suggesting moving Queen’s Birthday to allow for a Matariki holiday in May/June.

“Our 11 public holidays compare poorly with many other countries – Italy has 16, Spain has 14 and while the United States has 11 federal holiday, it has dozens more state holidays. New Zealand could do with another.”

Early Maori marked Matariki, referring to the stars’ pre-dawn emergence as Te Tau Hou, or ‘New Year’, a time for reconnecting with the land, sea and stars.

Mr Harvey says that while celebrations of Matariki dwindled following the arrival of Europeans to New Zealand, it has experienced a rebirth in the new millennium. This year more than 70 Matariki-themed events will take place from June 24-July 24 in the Auckland region alone through Toi Whenua’s Matariki Festival 09.

Matariki Festival 09 begins on Wednesday 24 June with a dawn ceremony at Auckland City Council, followed by a month-long calendar of events including Native Noise featuring Tiki Taane at Auckland Town Hall, Tama Waipara in Sir Plus and the Requirements at the Telstra Clear Pacific Event Centre in Manukau, Manu Aute Kite Day, a community planting day at Birkenhead, Matariki Short Film Festival and Nga Korero Tataki – a three day sustainability symposium in Waitakere. The full programme for Matariki Festival 09 is available at www.matarikifestival.org.nz


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