NZ First leader Winston Peters says "now is not the time" to introduce a new public holiday, after coalition partner Labour announced a campaign pledge today to make Matariki a holiday starting in 2022.
Peters said this afternoon he was against another public holiday, "full stop", and that it could place "undue strain on employers".
"Now is not the time. When we are in the throes of huge financial challenges to start thinking about a holiday, I’m sorry – work is going to be our way out of it," Peters said.
"Working smarter and working more clever than we’ve done in the past, but it’s not leisure and holiday time."
When asked if he would accept renaming a current public holiday ‘Matariki’, Peters said he would "not waste my time on the Labour Party’s policy".
"If you want to change the name and call it Matariki fine, but it’s a public holiday. And one time in the future, when we rebuild our economy, maybe they can think about it.
"I disagree with an extra public holiday at this critical, stringently challenging economic time.
"Right now, work and sacrifice and collective efforts is what is required, not another holiday."
Today, Labour announced that if re-elected it would bring in Matariki as a public holiday from 2022.
The Green Party has been promising to make Matariki a public holiday to "honour our unique te ao Māori worldviews", co-leader Marama Davidson said.
"We’re really pleased to see Labour coming to the party and recognising the huge desire from across Aotearoa, including from the Greens, to make Matariki a public holiday," Davidson said today.