New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has declared Matariki, Māori New Year, a public holiday, making it the first official day celebrating Māori in the world.
Matariki marks the beginning of the Pleiades cluster of stars, which rises in the winter and symbolizes the start of the Māori new year.
Ardern had promised to make Matariki a holiday as part of her campaign pledge for the 2020 election.
One year later, she has fulfilled the pledge and announced that Matariki will be celebrated on 24 Jun. 2022, giving businesses one year to prepare.
“This will be a day to acknowledge our nation’s unique, shared identity, and the importance of tikanga Māori,” she said.
The date of Matariki will change every year, shifting the same way as Easter, between June and July.
An advisory group was created to provide advice on future dates, how it should be celebrated and taught, according to Māori-Crown Relations Te Arawhiti Minister Kelvin Davis, local media 1 News reported.
Chair Rangiānehu Matamua, a professor specializing in Māori astronomy, said it was also important to recognize regional differences in how iwi (tribes) mark the start of the Matariki each year.
Matarki will be legislated in New Zealand’s Holidays Act later this year and is the country’s 12th public holiday since Waitangi Day was introduced nearly 50 years ago, according to the Guardian.