2022 was the first year New Zealand celebrated its new public holiday, Matariki. Matariki is a time to embrace remembrance, reflection and new beginnings.

What does Matariki mean?

Matariki is a time of celebration and reflection in New Zealand. It is the time of year when the Matariki star cluster can be seen in the sky. This is a significant time for Māori, as it marks the beginning of a new year. But what else does Matariki represent?

Matariki is the Māori name for the Pleiades star cluster, and can be seen in the sky from late May to early June. It is also known as ‘Puanga’ in certain parts of Polynesia. Matariki has been used by Māori for centuries to mark the beginning of the new year. It is a time to remember and reflect upon those who have passed away and a time for new beginnings.

“Traditionally, Matariki was used to identify the optimum time for fishing, seafood gathering, planting and harvest times.”

Mātauranga Māori (ancestral knowledge and wisdom) is at the heart of celebrations of the Matariki public holiday, and it will be a time for:

  • Remembrance – We must remember those who have passed away since the previous rising of Matariki.
  • Celebrating the present – Gather together to express gratitude for what we have.
  • Looking to the future – Looking forward to the year ahead, with its promise of a fresh start.

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When is Matariki and what does it mean for you

Dates may change

As a business, Matariki is a new public holiday that lands on a Friday rather than most public holidays in New Zealand that land on a Monday. It’s important to know that the Matariki dates may change, with the Matariki Advisory Group established by the Government to determine the dates for the next 30 years. The day will always fall on a Friday. However, it will change each year, depending on the Friday. Businesses and courier services will generally not run on public holidays.

Employee pay

If your business continues to run on Matariki, you’ll need to know how to pay your employees. Employees are entitled to be paid at least time and a half for any hours they work on a public holiday. This includes any shift work that falls on Matariki. Read more from the Government about employee pay on Matariki here.

Should Matariki be celebrated?

How to celebrate it:

The Matariki Advisory Group is made up of well-respected experts from all around Aotearoa. They have significant experience with both Te Ao Maori and Mātauranga Māori, as well as the Maramataka (lunar calendar). The Group will help provide guidance on the best way for Matariki to be celebrated over the next 30 years.

As the first year of Matariki is rapidly approaching, activities and events are being planned and held throughout New Zealand to contribute to a shared sense of national identity. Find out what Matariki events are happening nationwide.

Should it be commercialised?

Matariki should be celebrated but not commercialised. Matariki is a time for remembrance, celebration and looking to the future. It is an important time for Māori and all New Zealanders alike. Matariki should be celebrated in a way that is respectful of its cultural significance. Greg Harford, Chief Executive of Retail NZ, stated to Newshub, “Retail NZ has advised its members that they should avoid commercialising Matariki and seek cultural advice if required”.

Embraced in the workplace:

The main goal of establishing a Matariki public holiday is to celebrate Māori culture. It is also an opportunity to educate people about Matariki and its significance. Many businesses are planning to celebrate Matariki in the workplace. This is a great way to show your employees you value their culture and heritage. It can also be a chance to learn more about Matariki yourself!

Some ideas for how your business can celebrate Matariki:

  • Matariki-inspired lunch menu
  • Education on Matariki’s significance throughout the office
  • Matariki trivia quiz

No matter how you choose to celebrate Matariki, ensure, it is done in a way that is respectful of the culture and heritage.

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Matariki is an essential time for Māori and all New Zealanders. It is a time for remembrance, celebration and looking to the future. Make sure you take the opportunity to relax and unwind this Matariki. Why not catch up with family and friends, share a meal, do some stargazing or take the time to reflect on the year ahead? After a strenuous last few years grappling with COVID-19, reconnecting with others is exactly what we’re all a little in need of!

From everyone at New Zealand Couriers, Happy Matariki!