National leader Christopher Luxon said he would not get rid of any public holidays if he won the 2023 election, saying he could not "follow through on the commitment" of removing holidays.
Luxon has repeatedly said the Government should consider axing a public holiday to pay for the cost of Matariki, which National supports.
On RNZ this morning, Luxon said he supported Matariki becoming a public holiday, but it needed to come at the expense of an existing holiday so it did not add cost to business.
"It's a great idea - wonderful holiday, but which of the other holidays are you going to cancel, because it costs the economy $450 million," Luxon said, citing a figure from the holiday's regulatory impact statement which put the cost of the holiday to the economy at $477m to $448m.
When questioned whether he would cancel another holiday if he came into Government in 2023, Luxon said "that's what we've been saying since this bill's come to Parliament".
Luxon later suggested Labour Day would be axed to pay for Matariki, a joke National MPs have made before, given Labour Day's significance to the Labour movement and by extension, the Labour Party.
However, on Newstalk ZB, Luxon clarified that if he won the 2023 election he would not axe holidays, saying the Matariki change was "irreversible".
"Once this thing's passed, it ain't changing. I'm sorry I won't be able to follow through on the commitment of removing it, because once it's done it's going to be set in place," Luxon said.
"Once it passes, there's no turning it back."
The party's position is currently to support the idea of Matariki as a public holiday, but only if it substitutes another holiday for it. However, National has not committed to repealing another holiday to give effect to its substitution idea itself, once legislation giving effect to Matariki passes.
It's the second time in recent weeks Luxon has had to walk back comments.
Last week, Luxon said he was opposed to public transport subsidies, a remark he had to clarify only applied to trains like Te Huia, not the subsidies for public transport like trains.