The Matariki Public Holiday

Aotearoa/New Zealand’s first Matariki holiday will take place on Friday, 24 June 2022.  The actual day will differ each year depending on the appearance of Pleiades in the sky.

The government has decided Matariki will be celebrated on a Friday to make a long weekend for New Zealanders.  In 2022, Matariki will be celebrated on Friday, 24 June.

The Pleiades are a cluster of stars that rise in midwinter and mark the start of the Māori New Year.  Some iwi name this time of the year Puanga, after a bright star that is above and to the right of the Matariki constellation.  It will be a time for:

  • Remembrance – honouring those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki.
  • Celebrating the present – gathering together to give thanks for what we have.
  • Looking to the future – looking forward to the promise of a new year.

Many New Zealand employers and employees still struggle with public holiday regulations and correctly paying employees.  Matariki is a standard national public holiday, and the normal public holiday rules will apply.

An employee has to work on a public holiday only if it is written into their employment contract, and it is a day they would normally work. If this is not the case, the employer may ask an employee to work on the public holiday, but they do not need to agree, and there should not be any consequences because of this.

It is important for employers to respect an employee’s decision.

The Matariki holiday will not always fall on the same date each year, just like Easter holidays. It will, however, always fall on a Friday.

Employees who work over the Matariki public holiday must:

  • be paid at least time and a half
  • if the Friday is a normal working day for them, be given a paid day off (also called a day in lieu, or an ‘alternative holiday’) at a date agreed by both parties.

Employees who are eligible for a day in lieu must be given a full day off no matter how many hours they worked on the public holiday.

They are not entitled to a day in lieu if:

  • they only work on public holidays
  • they were on call but didn’t have to work, and being on call did not stop them doing what they wanted to do with their day (for example, a doctor on call is not able to drink).

If you are unsure on your obligations or your rights, or would like to talk to our Employment Law team about any matter call us on 0800 440 999 or contact us here.