When Sam Hema was at university he wrote a paper about why Matariki should be a public holiday.
His reasons included there being no Māori-driven public holiday derived from a Māori perspective and because it was something "unique to Aotearoa".
That was 10 years ago and today, with renewed calls to make Matariki - the Māori New Year a national public holiday, Hema is still supportive of such a move.
Hema is no stranger to celebrating Matariki. The Māori engagement consultant, who has recently moved from Rotorua to Te Puke, has been organising events for many years to educate people about Matariki, which is the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades.
"I remember wanting to highlight something unique to Aotearoa," Hema said.
"I would support anything that highlighted that."
This year, Hema had planned to hold a Matariki celebration with food, music, art in Te Puke in June, along with a one-day youth workshop with Maimoa Music but due to Covid-19 restrictions, both events had to be cancelled.
Matariki is the cluster of stars used by Māori voyagers to help them navigate across the Pacific. The reappearance of the cluster signals the beginning of the Māori New Year, usually visible between May and June but not all iwi celebrate at the same time.
A petition on campaign website OurActionStation has been started by Laura O'Connell-Rapira calling on the House of Representatives to 'Make Matariki a public holiday'. As of Friday afternoon, the petition had reached 7766 of 8000 signatures.
Hema didn't think there could be a specific date chosen to celebrate Matariki each year because "it happens at different times" but would love to see the importance of Matariki being highlighted and celebrated throughout the country, with Government support to ensure resources were available to also help educate Kiwis.
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He said Matariki was a significant time for Māori and being unique to Aotearoa it was worth celebrating.
Earlier this week Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more public holidays for Kiwis to experience New Zealand was among topics the Government was looking into as a way to encourage domestic tourism.
Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey said he would "fully support" Matariki becoming a national public holiday.
He said as an MP based in the "heart of tourism and hospitality" in Rotorua, he supported Matariki as a public holiday and as a Māori MP he "loved the thought" of something so important to Māori culture being celebrated.
"Matariki is still very new in terms of knowledge and what people know about it," Coffey said.
He said celebrating Matariki as a public holiday would better educate Kiwis of its significance and allow Kiwis to claim a day of their own.