Thirty thousand signatures on petition to make Matariki a public holiday

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Almost 30,000 people have signed a petition being presented to the government tonight and it may change the way this country celebrates the New Year.

Activist group Action Station commissioned polling and showed 63% of New Zealanders agree  Matariki should be a public holiday.

The petition was launched in response to  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's hint about establishing more public holidays so Kiwis could get out and about visiting hospitality and recreations venues and companies. 

Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis says he would prefer a day to celebrate Matariki rather than celebrate the Queen's birthday and it might be something to look into. 

But supporters are worried about two issues.

Action Station's Laura O'Connell Rapira: "I think that it's really important that we don't allow Matariki to be commercialised if it does become a public holiday."

Changing dates

And Northland-based list MP Willow-Jean Prime says the ever-changing timeline for Matariki may be an issue.

 O'Connell Rapira:  " It should move with the moon and the stars.  I think it'll powerful if we do that because it'll force us as a society to look at the environment in which we live."

She is confident that the country is ready and wants it.

"I'm very confident that we are going o twin this campaign. It's especially popular among young people, Māori and Asian New Zealander,s who also observe a lunar calendar, and so I think it's a matter of time." 

The petition will be presented at a Matariki celebration in Wellington tonight