The New Zealand Government has announced that from 2022 we will have a new public holiday added to the calendar to celebrate Matariki, increasing our annual public holidays to 12. The first celebration of Matariki will fall on Friday, 24 June 2022.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said “This will be a day to acknowledge our nation’s unique, shared identity, and the importance of tikanga Māori. It’s going to be something very special, and something uniquely New Zealand”. She described it as “a time for reflection and celebration and our first public holiday that recognises Te Ao Māori”.
Matariki is the Māori name used to describe the entire star cluster also known as Pleiades. During New Zealand’s winter, before sunrise, the cluster is visible as a faint sparkle of tiny dots when you look towards the northeast horizon. Its appearance signals the end of one year and the beginning of another, the Māori new year. Matariki changes dates each year and therefore the day we recognise Matariki as a nation will change annually, much like Easter. However, it is anticipated it will always be celebrated on a Friday or a Monday.