It’s Matariki (if you hadn’t noticed) but we are being urged to celebrate the occasion and not try to commercialise it

Buzz from the Beehive

Fresh news – since our previous Buzz – comes from Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker.  He has announced he will represent New Zealand at the second United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, which runs from 27 June to 1 July.

Other ministers presumably have gone home for the long weekend to celebrate the nation’s first authentically Māori public holiday, Matariki

Consistent with the Government’s enthusiasm for mobilising the media and commandeering the airwaves to broadcast Matariki-focused mass programming, we imagined they all would be pitching in with press statements to promote Matariki or instruct us about its cultural significance.

Not so.  We found only a speech from the PM and one press statement in the names of the PM, Kelvin Davis and Kiri Allan.

Davis is Minister of Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti and the PM and Allan are Associate Ministers of Arts, Culture and Heritage.

The Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage is Carmel Sepuloni.  We are left to conjecture on why she did not add her name to the statement.

Arden said

“Today we take another meaningful step forward in understanding what makes us unique as a country, and what holds us together as a nation.

“While many will already have Matariki traditions, I know others will be creating their own for the first time. That extends to Kiwis living abroad as over 20 New Zealand embassies host Matariki celebrations around the globe, giving the world a taste of our national identity.

“I thank all those iwi, hapū, whānau and mātauranga holders for giving their time, support and knowledge to ensure Matariki is shared, acknowledged and better understood – to allow us all to celebrate as a nation together.”

Celebrating doesn’t mean cashing in.  Businesses which already are planning to make the most of Christmas – a deeply spiritual time for many Christians but the busiest time of the year for retailers – are being counselled against exploiting our new holiday:

Māori cultural advisers (who no doubt are doing a roaring trade keeping non-Maori on the straight and narrow),  academics, and the Government are warning businesses to avoid commercialising the mid-winter holiday.

The New Zealand Herald reported that Skye Kimura, chief executive of Tātou, a Māori cultural marketing and communications agency, launched a campaign called ‘Matariki is not for sale’, as a challenge to business to treat the holiday with respect and not as a sales opportunity.

A major government ministry is pitching in with similar advice.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has also raised concerns about the commercialisation of Matariki.

In a Matariki advisory document prepared by Professor Rangi Matamua, MBIE said it was concerned commercialisation could take away from the core values of the holiday.

The values of Matariki outlined in the document are aroha (love and respect), whakamaumaharatanga (remembrance), and kotahitanga (unity).

If they are not already available, we look forward to similar advisory documents being prepared to influence corporate behaviour at Christmas and Easter and to urge greater respect for the religiosity of those occasions.

We further note that Matariki comes at an economic cost, the magnitude of which has been estimated by MBIE.  

According to MBIE, each public holiday costs New Zealand employers about $41.6 million, including the cost of paying their staff time-and-a-half and providing a day in lieu.

Some employers, particularly those in the hospitality sector, choose to offset the extra expense through a 15% public holiday surcharge

And we learn this from Newsroom:

Employers are not the only ones counting the cost of the first new public holiday in nearly 50 years

Next week, New Zealanders will celebrate Matariki as a public holiday for the first time, but official estimates say it will cost some workers $7 million in lost income.

That’s on top of the $436m cost to public and private sector employers in paying for lost productivity and time-and-a-half for those rostered to work the holiday. Human resources consultants and small business owners such as ACT MP Chris Baillie are warning this is an added burden on struggling SMEs.

Because the holiday will always be on a Friday – a busy day for hospitality and retail businesses – the cost will be higher. The usual Monday public holidays have less impact because many restaurants, in particular, are closed on Mondays.

As this item was being completed an email arrived from our favourite liquor provider.  It invited us to…

Celebrate Matariki with our best Pinot Noir deals

Skye Kimura, we imagine, will see red.  We would rather sample it and make a small contribution to the retailer’s cash flow.

Latest from the Beehive


24 JUNE 2022

Prime Minister’s Matariki speech 2022

Matariki tohu mate, rātou ki a rātou

Matariki tohu ora, tātou ki a tātou

First Matariki holiday marked across New Zealand and the world

Oho mai ana te motu i te rangi nei ki te hararei tūmatanui motuhake tuatahi o Aotearoa, Te Rā Aro ki a Matariki, me te hono atu a te Pirīmia a Jacinda Ardern ki ngā mahi whakanui a te motu i tētahi h

23 JUNE 2022

Minister to attend second United Nations Ocean Conference in Portugal

Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker will represent Aotearoa New Zealand at the second United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, which runs from 27 June to 1 July.

3 thoughts on “It’s Matariki (if you hadn’t noticed) but we are being urged to celebrate the occasion and not try to commercialise it

  1. The hectoring from the “spiritual advisers” about commercialisation will undo any of the goodwill some of us have towards the new holiday. Completely dumb PR.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Subaru should sue maori for copyright breach of logo. Like everything maori claim, it was Subaru”s logo, long before they claimed it.


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