NZ Election 2020: Labour lures voters with tantalising prospect of another day off - but would it get across the line?

Labour is luring voters with the tantalising prospect of another day off making Matariki an official public holiday, but the party may not get it across the line. 

The election campaign stops are racking up and the stars are aligning, with policy number one from Jacinda Ardern a doozy - giving the Māori New Year Matariki its day. 

"Matariki is a moment in time whose time has come," Ardern said in Rotorua on Monday. "If we are honoured to be re-elected we will make Matariki a public holiday in New Zealand."

It would be New Zealand's twelfth public holiday and our first that reflects Māori culture and tradition. 

"It was the biggest celebration in the Māori traditional calendar and so it marked a time where Māori would reflect on the people we'd lost throughout the year, celebrate the present and plan for the future," Dr Rangi Matamua, a Matariki expert, says. 

The holiday wouldn't go ahead under a National-led Government.

"The issue, of course, is that it's another public holiday that employers have to pay for," National Party leader Judith Collins said on Monday.

ACT leader David Seymour said Ardern is "in la la land". 

"Small businesses don't need another day off. They need this Government to take the next three years off. It just means another additional cost for businesses."

Ardern said Labour acknowledges that some businesses will find it tough which is why the holiday wouldn't come until 2022. 

But if 2020 is anything like 2017, with coalition negotiations to consider, Labour may not get it across the line either. 

"Right now work and sacrifice and collective effort is what's required, not another holiday," said Winston Peters, leader of New Zealand First which formed a coalition with Labour at the last election. 

Newshub asked Ardern if making Matariki a holiday would be a bottom-line in any negotiations with other political parties.

"No matter what we announce, I imagine we'll get that question every single time," she said. 

The day off would fall between mid-June and mid-July, depending on the lunar calendar. But it would be locked in on a Monday or a Friday. Long weekends can treble business for tourism operators. 

Bruce Tomasen, director of Redwoods Treewalk in Rotorua, is keen on the idea. 

"A public holiday is brilliant for us so congratulations, that's an absolute great idea," Tomasen said. "And look, 2021 would've been great - we'll take 2022."

Alongside policy, day one of the election campaign also heralded campaign nicknames. 

"I've had many nicknames - that's the first time I've been called Roadrunner," Ardern said. 

There were new nicknames and those well traversed, such as 'Crusher' Collins, which the Opposition leader said she finds "dehumanising". 

But 'Jude' is in, Collins explaining how her husband uses it for her.  

Ardern said she doesn't have a favourite nickname but she finds being called aunty "a term of endearment". 

Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien

This is a vote winner alright - it's tangible, it's tantalising and culturally it makes sense. 

It's a great election campaign policy opening gambit, a belter straight out of the traps - but totally cynical too. Labour could've raised this anytime this term but saved it for the campaign.

Building in the two year delay is also sensible because that's really the only strong argument against it - the added pressure on business. 

But tourism, hospitality, retailers; they're all businesses also struggling because of COVID-19 and holidays and long weekends are when they really see that upswing in profits. 

So day one, with 40 to go, well-played Labour but National also had a blinder.