Labour move to save public holidays gains wide support

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Labour MP Grant Robertson says Kiwis deserve to commemorate national days and get a day off. Photo / Supplied
Labour MP Grant Robertson says Kiwis deserve to commemorate national days and get a day off. Photo / Supplied

Today is the last public holiday for New Zealanders until late April - but even then you're missing out.

Aucklanders are today celebrating their annual Anniversary Day, with many enjoying the day off or working with the comfort of knowing that they are being paid extra for working on a public holiday.

But today is the last public holiday until Easter Monday, on April 25.

There will be no public holiday for Anzac Day, which falls on the same day as Easter Monday, and Waitangi Day is this Sunday.

There is huge debate over the issue, after the Labour Party announced it would be introducing a member's bill to ensure public holidays that fall on a weekend can be taken the following Monday.

Labour MP Grant Robertson yesterday said Kiwis deserved to not only commemorate national days of significance, but also to get a day off.

He had received many emails from people who supported the idea, but there were others who thought having two holidays would only diminish the meaning of Waitangi Day, for example. But there was no risk of that happening if the bill was successful, he said.

"Nothing will change under this proposal in terms of the commemoration.

"It's just that it also allows for people to have a break the following Monday."

Family First NZ is supporting the proposed move, saying it would give more time for families to be together.

National director Bob McCoskrie said it was not fair that workers - and therefore families - had missed out on holidays last year and will again this year.

"This ultimately impacts on family time when we stop as a nation and enjoy a public holiday. Public holidays are traditions. They create rituals for families based on celebrating together, reconnecting and making memories."

A Facebook page - dubbed Mondayise NZ - has called on the Government to make the move.

One post reads: "Crazy. Currently if our NZ national day Waitangi Day falls on a weekend, we don't get the day off! What's that about?"

Another said: "Let's tell the New Zealand Government through a Facebook community [that] we want our public holidays Mondayised!"

Others do not support the proposal.

RSA chief executive Stephen Clarke said the RSA did not support the idea of effectively having two Anzac days.

"No. The RSA policy is to retain the observance on the actual commemorative date," Dr Clarke said.

"I think most New Zealanders would like to see the observance of Anzac Day remain the same - as it has been for decades now."

BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said the business community could easily work around the idea of shifting public holidays to a Monday, as it would happen only every seven years.

But he said people were becoming too caught up in having a holiday and forgetting about the reason for having a commemorative day in the first place.

"The date of a holiday is the date of a holiday because of the event that happened on that day.

"That's why it's on that day. The whole purpose of the day is to commemorate what happened on that day ... it's not an excuse to go to the shopping mall."

- NZ Herald

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