Matariki Day group confident petition will reach parliament

By Kelvin McDonald
The Mana Moana celebration of Matariki on Wellington's waterfront earlier this year included artwork by Robyn Kahukiwa projected onto a giant screen made up of millions of droplets of water. Photo/File

The group behind a petition to establish a public holiday to mark Matariki say they have spoken with politicians to sound out their support and plan to make a concerted effort to push the kaupapa in the new year.

NZ Republic, which supports the idea of a New Zealand head of state, started their online petition on the NZ Parliament website in July and currently have more than 2,700 signatures.

"We'd love to be doing better but we've still got a bit of time up our sleeves. We'll see as we get into the new year," NZ Republic chair Lewis Holden says.

Their target is 10,000 signatures by Matariki next year, however, they are aware that 6,000 was enough to get another petition in front of parliament earlier this year.

As their petition is currently tracking, they could possibly reach about 4,000 signatures by their 15 May 2020 deadline for the petition to close, all things being equal.

"We'd be happy with 4,000 signatures but we'd love to hit 10,000 which is our goal," Holden says. 

The group acknowledges that their petition has not kept pace with the speed at which they initially collected signatures when it first went live, when they attracted 1,600 signatures in the first two weeks.

"The number of new signatures has fallen off a bit. I guess that's to be expected as we get further away from Matariki and closer to Christmas. We kind of anticipated this though so we made the petition run through to the start of Matariki next year."

The group says they are confident they will at least achieve their aim of getting the petition presented to parliament.

"We're going to really start to push the petition in the last few months before Matariki," Holden says.

"I've spoken to a couple of MPs already about presenting the petition to parliament, so I'm confident we'll get that far. The challenge is then getting parliament to act on it."

Despite backing the Māori Party's Te Rā o Matariki Bill in 2009, which failed to get parliament's support, some in the current Labour-led government's ranks remain lukewarm on recognising Matariki with a public holiday.

WATCH the Mana Moana celebration of Matariki.