Morning Briefing Sept 8: A Matariki holiday - the arguments for and against

Labour began their election campaign with a bang yesterday as leader Jacinda Ardern pledged to honour Matariki with a public holiday if re-elected.

Matariki dawns at the Mātai Whetu at Hakikino. Source: Getty

She says an expert group will decide on the date of the new holiday with it falling either on a Monday or Friday during the mid-winter celebration. 

New Zealand currently has 11 public holidays, with Waitangi Day the last to be introduced in 1974. Ardern says Matariki will be a distinctly New Zealand holiday, with deputy leader Kelvin Davis adding it will help the tourism and hospitality sectors. 

While the Greens welcomed Labour’s decision to “celebrate a Māori holiday on Aotearoa whenua”, other political parties were less enthusiastic.

NZ First leader Winston Peters says "now is not the time" to introduce a new public holiday, while ACT’s David Seymour says Ardern is “in la la land proposing a new public holiday during a recession”.

National’s Paul Goldsmith also cited economic concerns, saying it’s “tone deaf” to announce such a policy “when the economy is shrinking and we are losing jobs”.

Labour says the Matariki holiday would be introduced from 2022 in order to give businesses time to prepare and recover from Covid-19.

ActionStation director Laura O’Connell Rapira – who launched a petition for the public holiday in May – told Stuff she’s “delighted” by Labour’s proposal but says there are still some concerns over Matariki being commercialised.

Noted Māori astronomer Professor Rangi Matamua says the move is significant but expressed similar concerns about the potential “bastardisation” of Matariki. He joins TVNZ’s Breakfast around 7.20am today to discuss the issue. 

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National's new 'War on P'

Meanwhile, National’s election campaign focused on tackling methamphetamine with the resurrection of their ‘War on P’.

However, this time their crackdown on the drug also includes proposed resources for supporting meth addicts and their communities.

Party leader Judith Collins unveiled the policy in Napier, which includes the wraparound treatment programme for addicts, as well as more funding for police and customs, more drug dogs at airports and ports, and extra resources for police to target organised crime networks.

Collins says the plan will restore "hope to people trapped in cycles of drug dependence and challenge those who peddle misery in our communities".

ACT’s David Seymour says he supports National’s policy, but it needs funding. He’s proposing to fund it through money and assets seized from gangs.

Quake insurer loses appeal

A couple has won a major legal victory against Southern Response, the government-owned insurer responsible for settling Christchurch quake claims.

Karl and Alison Dodds were awarded $178,000 last year after the High Court ruled the insurance firm misled them.

A Government appeal of that decision was quashed yesterday, potentially opening the agency up to 3000 similar cases.

Search resumes for seafarers 

An empty lifeboat has been found by authorities searching for seafarers missing after a livestock ship sank during a typhoon near Japan last week.

Authorities resumed looking for the 40 missing crew members, including two Kiwis, after a second typhoon suspended their search earlier.

The family of one of the missing New Zealanders yesterday criticised the Government for not doing enough to help, however Jacinda Ardern moved to assure family members they were doing “everything we can” to locate the missing crewmen. 

Meanwhile, the Veterinary Association says more transparency around New Zealand’s livestock exportation process is needed.

The Ministry for Primary Industries last week suspended live cattle exports following the ship’s sinking.

The Veterinary Association says there needs to be more understanding about what’s going on with such exports “in a much, much deeper and more detailed level”.

Four new Covid cases

New Zealand’s tally of confirmed Covid-19 cases grew by four yesterday with two of those in the community and linked to the Auckland cluster. They take the total number of active cases to 118.

Four people are currently being treated for the virus in hospital with one in intensive care. 

Other news of note this morning:

- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been taken out of an induced coma following his poisoning with a nerve agent.

- Officials believe a gender reveal party is the cause of one of several wildfires raging in California.

- Truckers are demanding a billion-dollar spend to fix New Zealand’s 'dilapidated' roads.

- Hawke’s Bay’s water costs could be in for a dramatic rise over the next decade, according to a million-dollar review.

- New Zealand buy now-pay later company, Laybuy, has had a successful debut on the Australian stock exchange.

- The crews of hundreds of yachts fear being stranded in the Pacific during cyclone season while their usual safe havens in New Zealand and Australia remain closed.

- MediaWorks has sold its TV operations to US-based Discovery – here, the Spinoff looks at what happens to Three now.

And the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid back almost $5 million for the renovations of their UK residence, Frogmore Cottage. 

And finally...

Antonio Mangioni. Source: Fair Go

Fair Go is famous for chasing down the ratbags and rip-offs of New Zealand. But sometimes they get the chance to celebrate the best in people, too.

And they got to do the latter when they revisited Te Kuiti man Antonio Mangioni on the show last night.

He and his now deceased mother, Sarah Ashby, were both in wheelchairs when a Waikato builder ripped them off to the tune of $4000 last year.

But after seeing Mangioni’s plight, a very generous Fair Go viewer offered to gift him the same amount of money.

Mangioni struggled for words when presented with the money before he decided to pay it forward

"New Zealand is a wonderful place to live,” he said. “Mum would be absolutely thrilled."