The case for a New Zealand Day


What does Waitangi Day mean to New Zealanders? What does it mean to non-New Zealanders who understand the bi-cultural nature of New Zealand, but do not understand the treaty grievance processes? Does it mean anything at all or is it just viewed as another holiday?

Some commentators, notably Mike Hosking think Waitangi Day needs to be abandoned for an all inclusive New Zealand Day. And much as I am not a fan of Mr Hosking and his view of where New Zealand is headed, there is a case for a New Zealand Day. However that day is challenged somewhat by the clutter of holidays dotting the calendar. A New Zealand Day needs to be all inclusive and make people who have chosen to make New Zealand home feel welcome and wanted.

Waitangi Day needs to stay as a commemorative sort of event, but it should not be viewed as our National Day. New Zealanders as much as non-New Zealanders living here need to understand the process a potential agreement to make such a  day exist would have to go through.

I have heard and indeed had ideas of my own that involve abolishing the Queens Birthday weekend holiday on the grounds that any historical context has been lost on New Zealanders who treat it solely as a long weekend. The 21 gun salutes that the Army would put on in Hagley Park, and the Navy in Auckland have long been stopped, though the reasons might not have been so much to do with public interest as complaints from adjacent properties.

However, if Queens Birthday were to be abolished, that only partially addresses the problem. The question then becomes what to replace it with. There are a couple of quite exciting options here – exciting because they have the potential to bring out what should be a New Zealand flavour to a New Zealand national day. The options are:

  • Celebrate Matariki, the Maori New Year. This has quite widespread appeal because it denotes the Maori New Year, but also because in June it happens close enough to Queens Birthday that Matariki could replace it.
  • New Zealand Dominion Day on 26 September. This is a few months later and is not very well known by New Zealanders. However there is a strong case if one stops to consider it, for being a potential Queens Birthday replacement.

We celebrate the Chinese New Year, which starts in a few days. It would therefore be not at all remiss to celebrate Matariki, the Maori New Year. It seems to be relatively well known to people and quite a few I know across the political spectrum think there is a case for a holiday or somehow using it to acknowledge an important event on the Maori calendar. A catch though would be getting people to agree on a date in June to set as a holiday for it, because Matariki lasts a couple of years.

With Dominion Day there is another good reason to upgrade the importance of this day. New Zealand often struggles with the act of behaving responsibly with fireworks. Whilst many want to see them restricted to public displays there are a number of people, myself included who think part of the problem is that because Guy Fawkes happens in November when the weather is drier and the day time longer and warmer, the risk of fire is higher. If our national fireworks day was moved back to September 26 when the weather is colder and wetter, it could be perhaps more safely had and not cause the Fire Service, Police and St John Ambulance so much stress.

3 thoughts on “The case for a New Zealand Day

  1. Rob, your reasoning that Queens Birthday is irrelevant now would also be a reason to change the flag. Many do not want a flag change.
    Many like having a Governor General as the queen’s representative
    Therefore, until we become a republic with a president the current flag and the celebration of the British Monarch is still relevant is it not.
    You can’t have it both ways.
    And, like it or not, Waitangi day IS our National day because that was when the founding document to make us ‘One People’ was signed. If people want to use it as an opportunity for forceful political comment then thats OK. You have no doubt, noticed that Both Parties to the Treaty make political comments on that day.
    At Waitangi that is where the Treaty House stands. You cannot really get around that being the place where any ‘Official’ celebration should take place.

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    • Actually I tweeted Peter Dunne who I have known for sometime has a view that Waitangi Day should be about the Treaty and that a New Zealand Day that recognizes all New Zealanders regardless of their background.

      I actually DO support a flag change, but the way this one was foisted onto New Zealanders without even determining whether or not they actually WANT a flag change means I will support retaining the flag for the time being. These are all issues that should be put on hold until the Queen dies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Rob, I too think it is time that we had a new flag unlike policy advocated by NZFirst. However I am still undecided whether I will vote for it or not. Don’t want to support Key’s project.

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