Matariki Public Holiday: Everything an employer needs to know

Published 28 June 2024 | 2 min read

As the Matariki public holiday approaches on Friday, 28th June 2024, New Zealand prepares to celebrate the Māori New Year. For employers, this day not only signifies a cultural milestone but also presents a series of responsibilities and opportunities in the workplace.

Understanding the significance of Matariki

Matariki marks the reappearance of the Pleiades star cluster in the mid-winter sky, heralding the Māori New Year. This celebration is deeply rooted in Te Ao Māori, embodying three core principles: remembering those who have passed, celebrating the present, and looking forward to the future. As the 12th public holiday in New Zealand's working year, Matariki is more than just a day off; it's a chance to embrace and honor Māori culture.

Matariki policy and procedures

Employers must be well-versed in the rights and responsibilities associated with public holidays to ensure compliance and foster a supportive workplace environment.

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), if Matariki falls on a day that an employee would normally work, they are entitled to a full paid day off. If they work on the holiday, they should receive time and a half pay and potentially an alternative day off.

We stress the importance of understanding these obligations to avoid misunderstandings and ensure fair treatment of your employees. Unlike other holidays like Christmas or Anzac Day, there are no trading restrictions for Matariki, allowing businesses to operate if necessary.

How can you celebrate Matariki in the workplace?

Celebrating Matariki at work can enhance team cohesion and show respect for Māori traditions. Here are some ways to incorporate Matariki celebrations in your workplace:

Educational sessions

Organise sessions to educate employees about the significance of Matariki, its history, and how different iwi celebrate it. Consider providing training on Māori culture and the significance of Matariki to ensure that celebrations are respectful and meaningful.

Shared kai

Host a communal meal, such as a traditional hāngī, to bring your team together and celebrate the present.


Use this time to reflect on the past year's achievements and set goals for the future, aligning with the Matariki theme of forward-looking.

Te Reo Māori integration

Encourage the use of te reo Māori in your communications. Start with simple phrases like "Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori" (Happy Matariki, Māori New Year).

Benefits of celebrating Matariki

Embracing Matariki can lead to numerous positive outcomes. By acknowledging this holiday, you not only comply with legal obligations but also foster an inclusive and respectful workplace culture. Celebrating Matariki can enhance employee morale, strengthen team bonds, and show your commitment to honoring Māori heritage. This cultural competency can also improve your company's reputation and attract a diverse workforce.

Plan Ahead!

Ensure your payroll and leave management systems account for Matariki as a public holiday. Communicate with your employees about their entitlements and any operational changes for the day.

Engage with Employees

Discuss with your team how they would like to celebrate Matariki. This not only respects individual preferences but also encourages participation and engagement.

In summary, the Matariki public holiday is a time for reflection, celebration, and future planning. As an employer, understanding your obligations and the cultural significance of this day will ensure you honour its essence while fostering a positive and inclusive workplace.

Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori!

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