Andern to declare Maori New Year national holiday if re-elected

Sydney, Australia, Sep 7 (efe-epa).- New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that she would declare the Maori New Year a national public holiday for her country from 2022 if she is re-elected in the upcoming elections on Oct. 17.

“As New Zealanders we are proud of who we are, what we stand for, and the way we weave together different worlds and cultures to create our unique national identity,” the leader said in a statement.

If the Maori New Year, called Matariki, is declared a national holiday, it will be the first celebration of this people to be chosen as such since Waitangi Day, which celebrates an agreement between the United Kingdom and the Maori in the 19th century and was included in 1974 in the New Zealand public celebrations calendar.

Matariki, which takes place during the southern winter around June or July, marks the beginning of the lunar year for the Maori and the celebrations last three days.

The Maori call the famous open star cluster Pleiades also known as the Seven Sisters, Matariki, which means the “eyes of god” or “tiny eyes”.

The Seven Sisters are of great significance in many cultures such as the indigenous peoples of Latin American, the Greek and the Oriental, and are also mentioned in the Bible or Don Quixote, among other books.

According to Maori mythology, the origin of Mataraki began when the sky father Rangunui and the earth mother Papatuanuku separated from their children.

One of its offspring, the god of the winds, Tawhirimatea, gouged out the parents’ eyes and threw them into the sky, creating the star cluster, according to a version of the myth in Aotearoa, the name given to New Zealand by the native peoples of this oceanic country.

Ardern stressed that her government, if re-elected, will continue to raise the status of Maori culture and recalled that her party has promoted the compulsory teaching of its history in schools.

New Zealand celebrates Waitangi Day on Feb. 6, commemorating the signing of the treaty in 1840 between the Maori, who currently represent 17 percent of the more than 4.9 million New Zealanders, with the British Crown.

This treaty became the backbone of relations between the Government and this indigenous people.

Ardern became in 2017, at 37, the youngest prime minister in the history of her country after agreeing to a government alliance with the Green and New Zealand First parties and this year is a favorite in the elections in which her Labor Party could be elected to rule alone. EFE-EPA


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