Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says New Zealand on 'lower end' of holidays, backs having more

The Green Party is celebrating the prospect of a new Matariki holiday - and calling for New Zealand to have more.

On Monday, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern announced that if re-elected she would give the country a holiday to celebrate the Māori new year, starting in 2022.

"We welcome Labour coming to the party in support of Matariki Day, which the Greens have long supported. The Māori New Year is a chance each year to reflect, celebrate, claim our past, and look forward, and the additional day off will help support local tourism," co-leader Marama Davidson tells Newshub.

New Zealand currently has 11 public holidays, counting regional anniversaries as one.

This puts us in the low-to-middle range for public holidays amongst OECD countries, with 18 countries having more than us, and 12 fewer.

"The Green Party is really pleased we're having a conversation about public holidays, as New Zealanders work really hard and are at the lower end of the scale internationally when it comes to annual public holidays," Davidson says.

"Any new public holidays should be additional, and not replace current ones."

What could be these new public holidays?

Earlier this year Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon suggested we take a day off to mark the New Zealand Land Wars.

"I've emailed the Prime Minister to explain that our national and local histories are paramount," said Foon. "Understanding the history creates a better-informed citizenry."

The Land Wars took place on-and-off over several decades in the 1800s, and ended with the colonial government killing thousands of Māori, asserting its control over the entire country and confiscating massive areas of Māori land. Historian Vincent O'Malley has written of the consequences of the New Zealand Wars in an article for The Spinoff here.

Te Pūtake o te Riri is currently set aside on October 28 each year to mark the Land Wars, Foon said, but isn't a public holiday. 

"I have lobbied ministers to set in place legislation... so that the New Zealand Wars move from a local event to a public holiday. This is what iwi have long called for."

Another option argued for is Parihaka Day on November 5. This would commemorate the colonial invasion of the Taranaki community in the 1800s after years of peaceful resistance to the Crown's land confiscation.

"New public holidays marking historical events important to a particular iwi, for example, Parihaka Day, should be led by that iwi," Davidson says.