New Zealand has made Matariki, the Māori New Year celebration, the first public holiday that honours Māori culture.
According to csmonitor.com, Matariki is the Māori name for the Pleiades star cluster, which rises in the Southern Hemisphere around midwinter. This historically marks the start of the new year for mainland New Zealand’s Indigenous people.
Local councils have been organizing Matariki celebrations and raising awareness about the tradition since the early 2000s, but past efforts to recognize the constellation’s reappearance as an official holiday have failed.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the first official Matariki will be celebrated June 24, 2022, and future dates will be determined by the newly formed Matariki advisory group in compliance with the Māori lunar calendar.
It will also advise on how to celebrate the event, considering regional differences in tribes’ traditions, and develop resources to educate the public about Matariki’s meaning, said chair Rangiānehu Matamua, a professor who specializes in Māori astronomy.