Public holidays in New Zealand

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Public holidays in New Zealand
Flag of New Zealand.svg
Also calledStatutory holidays, stat holidays
Observed byNew Zealanders
TypeNational, regional
FrequencyTwelve days a year (from 2022)[1]

Public holidays in New Zealand (also known as statutory holidays) consist of a variety of cultural, national, and religious holidays that are legislated in New Zealand. Workers can get a maximum of 12 public holidays (eleven national holidays plus one provincial holiday) and a minimum of 20 annual leave days a year.


Bank Holidays in New Zealand originated with a celebration of St Andrew's Day in 1857.[2] Nationwide public holidays began with the Bank Holidays Act 1873, which was based on the UK Bank Holidays Act 1871. Initially there was some resistance to it.[3]

Anniversary Days celebrated, from as early as 1843, the first arrivals of settlers in each province.[4] By 1846 the Wellington Anniversary Day was described as having the appearance of an English Fair.[5]

A "one off" national public holiday was declared by the Prime Minister for 26 September 2022 to allow people to pay their respects for the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch of New Zealand.[6] South Canterbury Anniversary Day, which was due to be observed on 26 September, was moved to be observed on Friday 11 November.[7]


In 2006, Māori Language Commissioner Haami Piripi proposed to make Matariki an official holiday.[8] After public discussion, in 2009 a bill was introduced to make Matariki a public holiday; however, the bill was voted down at its first reading.[9] Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on 7 September 2020 that her government would create a new public holiday to celebrate Matariki should the Labour Party win the 2020 general election.[10] Labour won the election, and in February 2021 Ardern announced that Matariki would become an annual public holiday with a variable date (June or July).[11] The Matariki Public Holiday Bill received royal assent on 11 April 2022.[12] The first Matariki public holiday was observed on 24 June 2022.[13]

National public holidays[edit]

In New Zealand there are two types of national public holidays: those that are "Mondayised" and those that are not.

Christmas Day and New Years' Day have always been Mondayised holidays, and from 2013 Waitangi Day and Anzac Day are also Mondayised.[14] If these days fall on a weekend that the employee does not normally work then the holiday is transferred to the following Monday or Tuesday; if the employee would normally work on the particular weekend then it remains a traditional holiday and the employee is entitled to that day off on pay. If they would normally work on both days, they are only entitled to the traditional holiday and the Mondayised holiday is treated as a normal work day. Other public holidays are only taken on the day they fall and only employees who would have otherwise worked that day are entitled to a paid day off.[15]

All workers who work on a public holiday must be paid time-and-a-half, and if it would otherwise be a normal working day for them, be given an alternative holiday (known as a day in lieu). Payment for the alternative holiday is equivalent relevant daily pay for the particular alternative day taken, had they have worked it.[16]

While shops may trade on most public holidays, there are special trading restrictions on Christmas Day, Good Friday, and before 1 pm on Anzac Day. On those days, generally only dairies, petrol stations, pharmacies, restaurants, cafés, and shops within an airport or train station may open. In recent years, there have been deliberate violations of these trading restrictions on Good Friday by garden centres (previously, garden centres were exempt from these restrictions).[citation needed]

Some areas were granted exemptions under the former Shop Trading Hours Act 1977, which allow them to trade on Christmas Day, Good Friday and before 1 pm on Anzac Day, subject to conditions and subject to any other law to the contrary (e.g. the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 prohibits alcohol sales on these days). These areas include Paihia, Picton, and Queenstown.[17]

List of statutory holidays[edit]

Statutory holidays are legislated by several Acts of Parliament, particularly the Holidays Act 2003.[1]

Waitangi Day and Anzac Day are always commemorated on the exact date, as they remember specific historical events. The statutory holidays, however, are Mondayised.

Date Holiday[1]
1 January[a] New Year's Day
2 January[b] Day after New Year's Day
6 February[a] Waitangi Day
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday
The day after Easter Sunday Easter Monday
25 April[a] Anzac Day
The first Monday in June King's Birthday
The closest Friday to the Tangaroa Lunar calendar period of the correct lunar calendar month.[18] Matariki
The fourth Monday in October Labour Day
25 December[a] Christmas Day
26 December[b] Boxing Day
  1. ^ a b c d Or the following Monday if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday.
  2. ^ a b Or the following Monday if it falls on a Saturday, or the following Tuesday if it falls on a Sunday.

Provincial anniversary days[edit]

In addition to the eleven national public holidays, section 44 of the Holidays Act 2003 specifies as public holidays the anniversary days of each province (or the day locally observed as that day) to celebrate the founding days or landing days of the first colonists of the various colonial provinces.[1]: Section 44  These are only celebrated within each province, not nationwide. Exact dates of the various provinces' anniversary days are not specifically stated in the act, and are instead determined by historical convention and local custom. The regions covered are set by provincial district (as they stood when abolished in 1876), plus Southland, the Chatham Islands, South Canterbury, and Northland. The actual observance days can vary even within each province and is due to local custom, convenience or the proximity of seasonal events or other holidays and may differ from the official observance day.

Provincial District includes Actual Day Observance Day
Wellington Province Wellington, Manawatu, Whanganui 22 January Monday nearest to the actual day
Auckland Province Waikato, King Country, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne/East Coast 29 January Monday nearest to the actual day
Northland Whangarei 29 January Monday nearest to the actual day
Nelson Nelson, Tasman, Buller and parts of North Canterbury 1 February Monday nearest to the actual day
Otago Province Dunedin, Queenstown 23 March Monday nearest to the actual day (this can vary if it would otherwise coincide with Easter Monday)
Southland Invercargill, Bluff, Milford Sound, Fiordland 25 March[19] Easter Tuesday[20]
Taranaki (New Plymouth) New Plymouth 31 March Second Monday in March – to avoid Easter
South Canterbury Timaru 25 September Fourth Monday in September — Dominion Day
Hawke's Bay Napier, Hastings 1 November Friday before Labour Day
Marlborough Blenheim, Picton 1 November First Monday after Labour Day
Canterbury Christchurch, Ashburton 11 November Christchurch Show Day (North Canterbury)
Christchurch Show Day (Central Canterbury)
Second Friday after the first Tuesday in November (Christchurch City) — to coincide with the Agricultural and Pastoral Show.
Chatham Islands Waitangi 30 November Monday nearest to the actual day
Westland Hokitika, Greymouth 1 December Monday nearest to the actual day (Greymouth)
Varies (outside Greymouth)

Annual leave and non-working days[edit]

In addition to the above holidays, from 1 April 2007 all workers must be given four weeks annual leave, often taken in the summer Christmas – New Year period.[21] In many industries there is a Christmas – New Year shutdown of business. With only three working days between Christmas and New Year, many workers take this time off, as they can have a ten-day summer break for only three days leave. Many retail outlets also hold sales at this time to stimulate business while others close down due to low demand for services. The days from 25 December to 15 January are not considered to be working days for official government purposes. The public counters of most government departments do open on weekdays during this period, though often only a limited service may be available.[citation needed]

School holidays[edit]

State schools have a 4-term year, of about ten weeks each and usually with a two-week holiday between terms.[22] Although standard term dates are set by the Ministry of Education each year, schools can vary these to account for local holidays and school closures due to weather. The first term commences in late January or early February. Occasionally, Easter holidays and/or Anzac Day may fall within these holidays. The holiday between terms two and three is generally known as the midwinter break[according to whom?] and occurs in July, while that between terms 3 and 4 occurs in late September, early October. Term four ends in mid December, generally a week or two before Christmas, though for many senior students this term ends after their final NCEA examination in late November or early December.[citation needed]

Proposals for new holidays[edit]

Following the death of Sir Edmund Hillary in 2008, the Green Party proposed a public holiday in his honour.[23] There is also support in some quarters for the old Dominion Day holiday to be revived as "New Zealand Day".[24]

Proposals for abolition of holidays[edit]

From the 1950s to the 1970s it was frequently suggested that the Provincial Anniversary holidays be abolished, as the Provinces ceased to exist in 1876.

Before Waitangi Day was made a national public holiday it was sometimes suggested that a Waitangi Day holiday should replace the anniversary days, and the Waitangi Day Act 1960 made provision for this. Waitangi Day was eventually made an additional holiday and the provincial holidays lived on, primarily because most regions had long established events on those weekends.

A small minority of people advocate the abolition of the Waitangi Day holiday, but it is regularly suggested that a less controversial day, such as Anzac Day (25 April) or Dominion Day (26 September), be made New Zealand's national day.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Holidays Act 2003 No 129 (as at 12 April 2022), Public Act". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  2. ^ "THE THISTLE ACT. NEW ZEALANDER". 2 December 1857. Retrieved 1 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "NEWS OF THE DAY. PRESS". 27 March 1875. Retrieved 1 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Public holidays". Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  5. ^ "WELLINGTON INDEPENDENT". 28 January 1846. Retrieved 1 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "Queen Elizabeth death: New Zealand gets public holiday to commemorate late monarch". Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  7. ^ MacDuff, Keiller (20 September 2022). "South Canterbury Anniversary Day to move after three councils vote in favour". Stuff. Retrieved 20 September 2022.
  8. ^ Front of the Box press release (23 June 2006). "Eye to Eye - Intermarriage is the answer". Scoop. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  9. ^ Katene, Rahui (20 August 2009). "Te Ra o Matariki Bill – Matariki Day Bill loses on first reading". Archived from the original on 22 August 2016.
  10. ^ Perry, Nick. "New Zealand government to honor Maori New Year if reelected". Associated Press. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  11. ^ Maxwell, Joel (4 February 2021). "New Matariki public holiday date to move around like Easter, date for 2022 to be announced". Stuff. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Te Pire mō te Hararei Tūmatanui o te Kāhui o Matariki/Te Kāhui o Matariki Public Holiday Bill". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  13. ^ McClure, Tess (23 June 2022). "Matariki: 'historic' moment as New Zealand celebrates first Indigenous public holiday". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  14. ^ "Extra public holidays voted in". 3 News NZ. 17 April 2013.
  15. ^ "Mondayised Public Holidays". New Zealand Department of Labour. Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  16. ^ "Pay for alternative holiday". New Zealand Department of Labour. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  17. ^ "Restricted shop trading days". Employment New Zealand. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Matariki Dates 2022 - 2052" (PDF). Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  19. ^ "Southland Anniversary Day". Southland Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on 31 March 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  20. ^ "Mayors decide on Anniversary Day Date". Southland District Council. Southland District Council. Archived from the original on 12 February 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  21. ^ Swarbrick, Nancy (5 September 2013). "Holidays - Paid holidays". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  22. ^ "School terms and holidays for state and integrated schools and kura". Ministry of Education. 2020. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  23. ^ Green Party press release (14 January 2008). "Annual Sir Edmund Hillary Day a fitting tribute". Scoop. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  24. ^ "Editorial: Dominion Day debate needless". The New Zealand Herald. 25 September 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2019.

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