The holiday we are having today is unusual in more ways than one. It was, of course, not scheduled until after the Queen's death 17 days ago, but it is unusual also for not being universally welcomed.
One-off public holidays have been rare in New Zealand and this one is merited. But it did appear to be declared becaus the state has no other way for the public to observe a significant occasion.
The holiday comes a week after the royal funeral, too late perhaps to serve the popular need at its height — how useful a day off last Tuesday might have been for those who had watched the London ceremonies overnight — but too soon to have made plans for a long weekend.
Some have been heard to grumble that the last thing we needed after the disruptions to work and education over the past few years was another day off.
Perhaps their mood also had something to do with the fact the country has already been given one more public holiday this year, the newly instituted Matariki in late June. But the fact is, New Zealand is not over-endowed with national holidays. The problem is not their number, it is their timing.
September is in fact a good month for an annual holiday weekend, probably a few weeks earlier than today. An early September holiday would come at least two months after Matariki (a moveable feast that, depending on the Moon, can occur in early July) and nearly two months before Labour Day in late October.
September normally brings spring weather and a regular long weekend at the beginning of September would be a golden opportunity to shrug off the long, cold, bleak weeks of July-August.
But to institute a new public holiday we should probably give up one of those we have. Queen's Birthday is one possibility, especially now that we have Matariki a few weeks later. We knew the holiday was not the former Queen's actual birthday in any case and nor is it the new King's. We can dispense with it.
We could also do away with "anniversary" days held throughout most of the country late in January, especially now that Waitangi Day has been made a Monday holiday.
We hardly need two long weekends so soon after the summer vacation. Ngati Whatua has recently called for Auckland's anniversary holiday to be moved to mark the date their forebears agreed to the settlement — in September as it happened.
For all these reasons this seems an opportune time to reset our public holiday calendar to better reflect New Zealand today. Its Christian heritage provides Christmas and Easter, its Māori heritage Matariki, the Treaty is venerated on Waitangi Day and pioneering employment laws on Labour Day.
If we need a reason for a day off at this time every year, why not the Queen's anniversary? As years pass, memories of her reign will probably grow ever fonder.