Matariki an ideal replacement for Queens Birthday


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that if re-elected, Labour will introduce a Matariki holiday to celebrate the Maori New Year.

National and A.C.T. – unsurprisingly – are against it. A.C.T. says the Prime Minister is unfit to govern if she believes this is a good idea. National’s Paul Goldsmith said it would need to be replacing another holiday. New Zealand First also opposed it on the grounds of “New Zealand needing more hard work”.

I completely – and vehemently – disagree. I know New Zealanders across the political spectrum who believe that we should introduce Matariki as a holiday. Aside from holding significant importance to Maori, there are as I will describe shortly, significant reasons for for non-Maori New Zealanders to get behind it. Before that, though, I want to acknowledge the work of Laura O’Connell Rapira of Action Station, and Lewis Holden who is former Chair of the New Zealand Republican Movement. Both had a significant role in making this possible.

Thank you.

When I was a kid, my parents used to take my brother and I to Hagley Park to watch the 21 gun salute. It would happen on the first Monday of June and be at midday, which everyone knows to be Queens Birthday, the official day of celebration of the reigning Monarch’s birthday (the actual day of her birth is in April). I think it was more for the novelty of four 105mm guns letting off blanks than for any real respect for Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II that we were taken along.

But as I grew older, I began to question the relevance of the Monarchy in New Zealand. I think this nation has grown up enough that we can reasonably have a conversation about whether or not the Monarchy is still relevant to New Zealand. Over the years since World War 2, if we look at how many other nations have gained their full political independence from Britain, and then look at at the diminishing number that are still to become a Republic (I am guessing that this will be more formally discussed when the reigning Monarch deceases), it is probably an inevitability.

On one hand there are thousands of New Zealanders who seemed genuinely excited to see Prince Harry on his recent trip, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2014. Their down to earth nature contrasts with the at times aloof nature of other senior Royals. I can appreciate the older generation which suffered so much from World Wars 1 and 2, will have a particular affinity with the Royal Family and in particular Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. When Camilla Parker-Bowles and Prince Charles visited in 2019, I think there were probably just as many people more interested in meeting the Prime Minister who was showing them around Christchurch Cathedral.

Then there are those who wish for the three day break to remain simply because it means a long weekend. All that is well and dandy but there are New Zealand events such as Matariki, the Maori New Year, which we could celebrate instead. Matariki refers to the star cluster called the Pleiades, whose appearance between late May and mid-June signals the start of the New Year. Matariki began on 2 July 2020 this year. Next year it will start on 13 July.

I also think that this could be made to tie in with school holidays in late June-early July.

But what about those of us, who whilst respecting the Monarchy, have no links whatsoever to British and identify as outright New Zealanders when we fill the census form in every five years? I am one. As far as I know all of my family as far back as the late 1800’s were born and raised in New Zealand. I am a New Zealander and this is the only country I have known. The same can be said for many other New Zealanders too.

And if we could move our annual fireworks addiction to Matariki, the Fire Service would probably welcome the reduced risk of fires for good reason.

The (ir)relevance of Queens Birthday in 2016


When I was a kid, my parents used to take my brother and I to Hagley Park to watch the 21 gun salute. It would happen on the first Monday of June and be at midday, which everyone knows to be Queens Birthday, the official day of celebration of the reigning Monarch’s birthday (the actual day of her birth is in April). I think it was more for the novelty of four 105mm guns letting off blanks than for any real respect for Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II that we were taken along.

But as I grew older, I began to question the relevance of the Monarchy in New Zealand. As a nationalist I think this nation has grown up enough that we can reasonably have a conversation about whether or not the Monarchy is still relevant to New Zealand. Over the years since World War 2, if we look at how many other nations have gained their full political independence from Britain, and then look at at the diminishing number that are still to become a Republic (I am guessing that this will be more formally discussed when the reigning Monarch deceases), it is probably an inevitability.

On one hand there are thousands of New Zealanders who seemed genuinely excited to see Prince Harry on his recent trip, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2014. Their down to earth nature contrasts with the at times aloof nature of other senior Royals. I can appreciate the older generation which suffered so much from World Wars 1 and 2, will have a particular affinity with the Royal Family and in particular Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II.

Then there are those who wish for the three day break to remain simply because it means a long weekend. All that is well and dandy but there are New Zealand events such as Matariki, theMaori New Year, which we could celebrate instead. Matariki refers to the star cluster called the Pleiades, whose appearance between late May and mid-June signals the start of the New Year. In 2016 it is on 06 June. I also think that this could be made to tie in with school holidays in late June-early July.

This is something that has been on my mind for years and comes up every Queens Birthday holiday. By and large I think the statutory holidays are just fine, and this is the only one we should really consider dropping or replacing. If we were to not use Matariki, then I would like to suggest that New Zealand Dominion Day on 26 September become roughly equivalent to a New Zealand Day where all New Zealanders feel like they have a day to come together. This is not intended to be divisive or racist but to acknowledge the many people from ethnic groups in Asia, Europe, Africa, America who are also New Zealanders, but who do not have the same understanding or connection to Waitangi Day as those born here.

But what about those of us, who whilst respecting the Monarchy, have no links whatsoever to British and identify as outright New Zealanders when we fill the census form in every five years? I am one. As far as I know all of my family as far back as the late 1800’s were born and raised in New Zealand. I am a New Zealander and this is the only country I have known. The same can be said for many other New Zealanders too.

Anyway, for what its worth, Happy Queens Birthday.

The time and place when New Zealand could change its flag


The current debate over becoming a Republic and having a flag change has got me thinking. My thoughts on both at this time are well established and need no further mention. But it has also got me thinking about about an event that will happen regardless of the outcome of the current referendum: the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

There is no doubt that the Queen is a very highly regarded figure around the world. She has reigned for a period longer than most people I know have been on the face of the planet – she had been Queen for 27 years already when I was born. Queen Elizabeth II has many admirers in both Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries who see her as a figurehead of stability in very stormy times.  However, in a decade or so, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II will pass on. At that point there will be a debate over who will succeed her as Head of State in Australia, New Zealand and several other countries. My understanding is that Prince Charles will become King as he is first in line to the throne.

Because Prince Charles is not seen by as many people as a person who they could tolerate as a Head of State in New Zealand as the current reigning Sovereign, when the current Monarch dies, peoples view points might change. This is where support for changes to New Zealand’s constitutional framework, and discussion about issues such as whether to become a Republic, what significance the Union Jack in the current flag has, whether the next Monarch appears on our currency will intensify.

I personally support changing the flag and becoming a Republic, but I do not detect the appropriate mood right now in New Zealand for such changes. This is not about whether the nation has grown up enough or not, but about the fact that New Zealanders seem to mainly agree that the time and place is not now.

In saying that, I believe New Zealand should make ready for the day when the reigning Monarch passes on. As part of that preparation, I believe legislation needs to be pushed through the House of Representatives, to ensure that there is a process to follow in determining how best to determine what New Zealanders want that can automatically kick in when the reigning Monarch passes on. Let me be very clear that this legislation is not declaring a Republic or a flag change, but to ensure that binding check on what New Zealanders think can take place with minimum of fuss, or delay. Of course if she were to have a heart attack or other problem that forces her to abdicate the throne before she dies – something that might happen tomorrow for all we know – then New Zealand might have accept a period of time whilst we determine the best path forward where Prince Charles is King of England.

In the interim, if you are eligible to vote in the current flag referendum, I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is that you do. Nor can I stress strongly enough how important it is to not desecrate your ballot papers, with text, drawings or other unnecessary stuff. Just tick the choice you want, put it in the envelope that came with the ballot paper and send it back.

The (ir)relevance of Queens Birthday


When I was a kid, my parents used to take my brother and I to Hagley Park to watch the 21 gun salute. It would happen on the first Monday of June and be at midday, which everyone knows to be Queens Birthday, the official day of celebration of the reigning Monarch’s birthday (the actual day of her birth is in April). I think it was more for the novelty of four 105mm guns letting off blanks than for any real respect for Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II that we were taken along.

But as I grew older, I began to question the relevance of the Monarchy in New Zealand. As a nationalist I think this nation has grown up enough that we can reasonably have a conversation about whether or not the Monarchy is still relevant to New Zealand. Over the years since World War 2, if we look at how many other nations have gained their full political independence from Britain, and then look at at the diminishing number that are still to become a Republic (I am guessing that this will be more formally discussed when the reigning Monarch deceases), it is probably an inevitability.

On one hand there are thousands of New Zealanders who seemed genuinely excited to see Prince Harry on his recent trip, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2014. Their down to earth nature contrasts with the at times aloof nature of other senior Royals. I can appreciate the older generation which suffered so much from World Wars 1 and 2, will have a particular affinity with the Royal Family and in particular Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II.

Then there are those who wish for the three day break to remain simply because it means a long weekend. All that is well and dandy but there are New Zealand events such as Matariki, the Maori New Year, which we could celebrate instead. Matariki refers to the star cluster called the Pleiades, whose appearance between late May and mid-June signals the start of the New Year. In 2015 that is 18 June. I also think that this could be made to tie in with school holidays in late June-early July.

Let me be clear though that this has nothing to do with the recent nonsense about changing the flag, which many people think is a smoke screen for something questionable such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement or sending troops to Iraq on a meaningless mission. This is something that has been on my mind for years and comes up every Queens Birthday holiday. By and large I think the statutory holidays are just fine, and this is the only one we should really consider changing.

But what about those of us, who whilst respecting the Monarchy, have no links whatsoever to British and identify as outright New Zealanders when we fill the census form in every five years? I am one. As far as I know all of my family as far back as the late 1800’s were born and raised in New Zealand. I am a New Zealander and this is the only country I have known. The same can be said for many other New Zealanders too.

Anyway, for what its worth, Happy Queens Birthday.