Queen Elizabeth death: New Zealand gets public holiday to commemorate late monarch

New Zealand will commemorate Queen Elizabeth II with a state memorial and one-off public holiday on Monday, September 26.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that New Zealanders will have the day off to mourn the late monarch, who died aged 96 last week. 

"As New Zealand’s Queen and much loved Sovereign for over 70 years, it is appropriate that we mark her life of dedicated public service with a State Memorial Service and a one-off public holiday," Ardern said.

"Queen Elizabeth II was an extraordinary person and I know many New Zealanders will appreciate the opportunity to both mark her death and celebrate her life."

The state memorial service will be held in the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul on Monday, September 26 and will be televised and live streamed.

"I know many people will want the opportunity to pay their respects and the public holiday offers communities around the country the ability to come together and pay tribute at local events also," Ardern said.

"The decision to hold a one-off Public Holiday in the Queen’s honour is also in line with similar holidays in the UK and Australia, and is in keeping with what is an historic event."

The public holiday will be called Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day. Legislation allowing it will be passed through the House next week.

The memorial is scheduled nearly a week after the official funeral in the United Kingdom. That will take place next Monday evening (NZ Time) with world leaders from across the globe in attendance.

Ardern will fly to London on Wednesday along with Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro to meet with dignitaries.

After the funeral, Ardern will fly to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. She will be there for the week, before returning to New Zealand in time for the state memorial.

Public holidays are often controversial due to the costs imposed on businesses that either can't open or have to pay staff time-and-a-half. 

While National has voiced support for the Government holding a public holiday, ACT has come out against it, saying it's inappropriate during a cost of living crisis. 

"New Zealanders are feeling the loss of the Queen, she was a true leader who selflessly served the Commonwealth every day of her life. The Government should be asking itself, though, is it fair to put another $450 million of costs onto business in the middle of a cost of living crisis?

"Treasury estimate an extra public holiday costs $450 million. We doubt the Queen, who was famous for being a careful spender, would endorse such extravagance when people are struggling to make ends meet."

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope told RNZ earlier on Monday that a public holiday would be a "bridge too far".

Prior to Cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told AM that the Government was consulting with other political parties

"We've obviously been speaking to the likes of the National Party who appear to hold a different view than ACT," said Robertson.

"Also, if we look around the world, the UK is doing this in terms of a public holiday, so is Australia. I believe Canada is considering something similar. We have to bear all these different points of view in mind.

"I do think New Zealanders need the opportunity to be able to mourn and to be able to commemorate this extraordinary life and the role that the Queen has played. So we'll work our way through those issues, but I do think this is a pretty special occasion covered."

Robertson said the $450m figure referenced by Seymour didn't take into account the money people would spend while out in the community on the public holiday, helping the economy.

Other countries are also holding a public holiday to mark the Queen's death. The United Kingdom will have a bank holiday next Monday (UK Time) on the same day as the funeral, while the Australian holiday will be on September 22, coinciding with a memorial service.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III ascended to the throne. New Zealand officially proclaimed him as our Head of State at a ceremony on Sunday afternoon.