The pleasure of a long weekend should not be spoiled by the realisation that this is the last one until late October, but it is reason to complain. In a week or two, Queen's Birthday will be a distant memory and Labour Weekend will seem an eternity away. The entire winter will pass before we next get away for a three-day break, and if the first few days of this one have been a taste of what is to come, the winter will be a hard one.

So why not a midwinter break? That's the question we have asked in a feature today, which has suggested some good excuses for another national holiday.

Rugby is an obvious one. It is time we marked the significance of the national game with a dedicated day. Let's consult the winter weather records and choose a Monday that will be reliably wet, cold, overcast and grim. Too much rugby these days is played in the sun. Our heritage was built on matches in mud. The climax of rugby weekend should be a Monday afternoon slog in somewhere such as Greymouth with sleet sweeping the scene and the crowd in oilskins.

Ideally it would be an inter-island match like those of old, except we should borrow the Australian idea and make it island of origin. That would be something to look forward to.


If rugby is too frivolous for a day off, we could trawl our history for something significant that happened in July, August or September. July 14, 1984, was a memorable day, a snap election that set in train a sequence of events that opened the way for the country's rapid economic reform. If that experience remains too raw for celebration, so probably does any event associated with the introduction of MMP. Perhaps political history should be left alone.

We could safely commemorate war again. Some already say our Anzac Day should be August 8, the day Colonel William Malone's Wellington Battalion took Chunuk Bair, the highest point the Allies ever gained in the Gallipoli campaign. That brief achievement should mean much more to New Zealand than the day of the landing, when the Australians were the first ashore.

August 8 would be perfect, falling almost exactly midway between Queen's Birthday and Labour Day. And this year it is a Monday. Let's do it.

Chunuk Bair is worthy of commemoration for more than the achievement. Malone defied an order from his British commander to advance in daylight, refusing to send his men to the slaughter they had just witnessed of the Auckland and Canterbury battalions. It is was a fine example of quiet, courageous defiance for the sake of survival and success. It deserves a national day.