Matariki public holiday 'to cost hundreds of millions'

The Green Party wants Matariki or the Maori New Year to be recognised as a national holiday.

Making the Maori New Year a holiday would cost millions, opponents say. Source: 1 NEWS

Party co-leader Metiria Turei has told ONE News that New Zealanders work 15% more than the OECD average and therefore deserve another day off. She says it's also about "recognising pre-colonial Māori legitimacy".

However opponents claim the move would cost the country millions.

"I'd like to see it as a public holiday, it's a great time for fireworks - much better than November," Ms Turei says.

Matariki or Pleiades is a cluster of nine stars that are only visible for one month about now.

They are 400 light years away from Earth and about 65 million years old.

It's when Maori have traditionally celebrated the start of a New Year. Morris Te Whiti Love, of Te Wharewaka O Poneke and Te Atiawa, said he's been looking to the stars ever since he was a young boy.

"If you have a look at Aotearoa it's probably a better time to say this is the start of the year, the days start to grow.

Mr Love says he agrees with the Greens, that time out to reflect on where we're at as a nation is a must.

But Business New Zealand's chief executive Phil O'Reilly has doubts.

"Well it's great that we're having the right debate about celebrating New Zealand events but I'm not sure either the cost or the public support for a public holiday would be the right thing right now," Mr O'Reilly says.

The Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment released figures to ONE News estimating a day off would cost the country $200 million. Ms Turei admits she had not done any costing of the policy but said that business can afford it.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says turning Matariki into a public holiday might be worth exploring but Government Minister Hekia Parata says that not every celebration in our nation's life needs it.

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