Saturday, June 25, 2022

Point of Order: It’s Matariki (if you hadn’t noticed) but we are being urged to celebrate the occasion and not try to commercialise it

Fresh news – since our previous Buzz – comes from Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker. He has announced he will represent New Zealand at the second United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, which runs from 27 June to 1 July.

Other ministers presumably have gone home for the long weekend to celebrate the nation’s first authentically Māori public holiday, Matariki

Consistent with the Government’s enthusiasm for mobilising the media and commandeering the airwaves to broadcast Matariki-focused mass programming, we imagined they all would be pitching in with press statements to promote Matariki or instruct us about its cultural significance.

Not so. We found only a speech from the PM and one press statement in the names of the PM, Kelvin Davis and Kiri Allan.

Davis is Minister of Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti and the PM and Allan are Associate Ministers of Arts, Culture and Heritage.

The Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage is Carmel Sepuloni. We are left to conjecture on why she did not add her name to the statement.

Arden said

“Today we take another meaningful step forward in understanding what makes us unique as a country, and what holds us together as a nation.

“While many will already have Matariki traditions, I know others will be creating their own for the first time. That extends to Kiwis living abroad as over 20 New Zealand embassies host Matariki celebrations around the globe, giving the world a taste of our national identity.

“I thank all those iwi, hapū, whānau and mātauranga holders for giving their time, support and knowledge to ensure Matariki is shared, acknowledged and better understood – to allow us all to celebrate as a nation together.”

Celebrating doesn’t mean cashing in. Businesses which already are planning to make the most of Christmas – a deeply spiritual time for many Christians but the busiest time of the year for retailers – are being counselled against exploiting our new holiday:

Māori cultural advisers (who no doubt are doing a roaring trade keeping non-Maori on the straight and narrow), academics, and the Government are warning businesses to avoid commercialising the mid-winter holiday.

The New Zealand Herald reported that Skye Kimura, chief executive of Tātou, a Māori cultural marketing and communications agency, launched a campaign called ‘Matariki is not for sale’, as a challenge to business to treat the holiday with respect and not as a sales opportunity.

A major government ministry is pitching in with similar advice.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has also raised concerns about the commercialisation of Matariki.

In a Matariki advisory document prepared by Professor Rangi Matamua, MBIE said it was concerned commercialisation could take away from the core values of the holiday.

The values of Matariki outlined in the document are aroha (love and respect), whakamaumaharatanga (remembrance), and kotahitanga (unity).

If they are not already available, we look forward to similar advisory documents being prepared to influence corporate behaviour at Christmas and Easter and to urge greater respect for the religiosity of those occasions.

We further note that Matariki comes at an economic cost, the magnitude of which has been estimated by MBIE.

According to MBIE, each public holiday costs New Zealand employers about $41.6 million, including the cost of paying their staff time-and-a-half and providing a day in lieu.

Some employers, particularly those in the hospitality sector, choose to offset the extra expense through a 15% public holiday surcharge

And we learn this from Newsroom:

Employers are not the only ones counting the cost of the first new public holiday in nearly 50 years

Next week, New Zealanders will celebrate Matariki as a public holiday for the first time, but official estimates say it will cost some workers $7 million in lost income.

That’s on top of the $436m cost to public and private sector employers in paying for lost productivity and time-and-a-half for those rostered to work the holiday. Human resources consultants and small business owners such as ACT MP Chris Baillie are warning this is an added burden on struggling SMEs.

Because the holiday will always be on a Friday – a busy day for hospitality and retail businesses – the cost will be higher. The usual Monday public holidays have less impact because many restaurants, in particular, are closed on Mondays.

As this item was being completed an email arrived from our favourite liquor provider. It invited us to…

Celebrate Matariki with our best Pinot Noir deals

Skye Kimura, we imagine, will see red. We would rather sample it and make a small contribution to the retailer’s cash flow.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton


DeeM said...

Considering the way Maori were frequently knocking ten bells out of each other pre 1840, it does make you wonder whether the reason for Matariki given by all our Maori cultural advisors - love and respect, remembrance and unity - were actually practised much at all prior to our current Woke Age.
I suspect not. This is just another fairytale narrative spinning the line that Maori were far more deeply in tune with the spiritual and cultural until the bad Brit turned up and ruined everything.
The reality is too shocking to contemplate and would shatter Maori aspirations for co-governance and a superior position in all things.

The trouble is, lies have a habit of getting out. Yet more propaganda from our government of disinformation.

robert Arthur said...

All the Matariki promotion on TV is blatant indirect support for the current maori advancemnt agenda. I wndwe who paid for all the promotional psuedo advertisements.

RayS said...

The celestial event Maori call Matariki. is / was observed by many cultures around the world. To claim the event for Maori is mischievous and insulting to others who practice belief but dont lay claim.

Anonymous said...

Joel Polack a trader here in 1835-1839 said that Maori knew one star as Matariki, he explained to them the constellation and the names of the other stars. Samuel said when he visited in 1814 that Maori were very superstitous rather than spiritual and had not left New Zealand as they had no world view.