Embracing Matariki In The Workplace

Published 21 June 2022 | 2 min read

The Matariki public holiday is this Friday and as many of your employees will be looking forward to the day off, it is a great opportunity to educate yourself and your employees about its meaning and importance. This article by Diversity Works explains exactly that.

As the first official public holiday for Matariki approaches, we wanted to look at the significance of this period of renewal and showcase the organisations that create space to mark this celebration unique to Aotearoa within their workplaces.

Let’s start with a brief description of what Matariki is and why she is significant.

The rising of Matariki signifies the beginning of te tau hou Māori, the Māori new year.

Matariki is a cluster of nine stars featuring Matariki, the star that represents good health and prosperity; Pōhutukawa, the star that represents death; Tupuānuku, the star that represents food grown in the ground; Tupuārangi, the star who represents food that is grown above our heads or falls from the sky; Waitī, the star that represents fresh water kai; Waitā, who represents the kai we gather from the sea; Waipunarangi, who represents the rain; Ururangi, who will determine the nature of our wind; and Hiwa-i-te-rangi who represents our hearts desires and wishes.

When the Matariki cluster shines brightly, it signifies a year of good fortune and health.

How can we all celebrate Matariki this year?

Matariki is a time to remember those we have lost and what we have accomplished throughout the past year.

Let this be a time for us to move forward and rejuvenate for the year ahead in our homes and our workplaces. Come together with colleagues to celebrate the wins and losses of the year by sharing kai and learning more about the significance of Matariki for Māori and wider Aotearoa New Zealand.

Source: Diversity Works NZ

A reminder of your employment obligations with employees working public holidays below:

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).

Source: Employment NZ

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