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

Statutory holidays are legislated by the Holidays Act 2003. [1]

Date Holiday [1] Trading restriction
1 January [lower-alpha 1] New Year's Day No
2 January [lower-alpha 2] Day after New Year's DayNo
6 February [lower-alpha 1] Waitangi Day No
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday Yes
The day after Easter Sunday Easter Monday No
25 April [lower-alpha 1] Anzac Day Yes (until 1pm)
The first Monday in June King's Birthday No
The closest Friday to the Tangaroa Lunar calendar period of the correct lunar calendar month. [14] Matariki No
The fourth Monday in October Labour Day No
25 December [lower-alpha 1] Christmas Day Yes
26 December [lower-alpha 2] Boxing Day No
  1. 1 2 3 4 Or the following Monday if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday.
  2. 1 2 Or the following Monday if it falls on a Saturday, or the following Tuesday if it falls on a Sunday.


The holidays that do not always fall on Monday or Friday are "Mondayised".

If the holiday fall on a weekend, and an employee does not work on the weekends, then the holiday is transferred to the following Monday or Tuesday. If the employee works on the weekends, then the holiday is taken on that day. [15]

Christmas Day and New Years' Day have always been Mondayised holidays, and from 2013 Waitangi Day and Anzac Day are also Mondayised. [16]

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


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. [17]

Restricted trading days

There are special trading restrictions on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday (not a public holiday) 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. All other shops including supermarkets must close.

Some shops open each year despite of the law and are fined. [18]

Certain areas have exemptions allowing them to trade one or more of the restricted days. These areas include Parnell Road in Parnell, Auckland, Paihia, Picton, and Queenstown. [19] The Shop Trading Hours Commission decided where exemptions were to apply but it was shut down in 1990, leaving the existing exemptions in place but no longer having a mechanism for other places to apply. In 2016, regional councils were given the power to set Easter Sunday trading rules in their area. [20] Around 44 councils, covering around one-third of the population, have set policy allowing trading on Easter Sunday. [21]

Shops that can open on the restricted days are still subject to conditions and subject to any other law to the contrary. For example, alcohol can only be sold to with a meal or to people staying on the premises overnight. [22]

Provincial anniversary days

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 DistrictincludesActual DayObservance Day
Wellington Province Wellington, Manawatu, Whanganui 22 JanuaryMonday nearest to the actual day
Auckland Province Waikato, King Country, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne/East Coast 29 JanuaryMonday nearest to the actual day
Northland Whangarei 29 JanuaryMonday nearest to the actual day
Nelson Nelson, Tasman, Buller and parts of North Canterbury1 FebruaryMonday nearest to the actual day
Otago Province Dunedin, Queenstown 23 MarchMonday nearest to the actual day (this can vary if it would otherwise coincide with Easter Monday)
Southland Invercargill, Bluff, Milford Sound, Fiordland 25 March [23] Easter Tuesday [24]
Taranaki (New Plymouth) New Plymouth 31 MarchSecond Monday in March – to avoid Easter
South Canterbury Timaru 25 SeptemberFourth Monday in September — Dominion Day
Hawke's Bay Napier, Hastings 1 NovemberFriday before Labour Day
Marlborough Blenheim, Picton 1 NovemberFirst Monday after Labour Day
Canterbury Christchurch, Ashburton 11 NovemberChristchurch 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 NovemberMonday nearest to the actual day
Westland Hokitika, Greymouth 1 DecemberMonday nearest to the actual day (Greymouth)
Varies (outside Greymouth)

Annual leave and non-working days

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. [25] 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

State schools have a 4-term year, of about ten weeks each and usually with a two-week holiday between terms. [26] 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 ]

One-off public holidays

On 26 September 2022, New Zealand observed a one-off public holiday to commemorate the death of the late monarch: Queen Elizabeth II. [27] [28]

Proposals for new holidays

Following the death of Sir Edmund Hillary in 2008, the Green Party proposed a public holiday in his honour. [29] There is also support in some quarters for the old Dominion Day holiday to be revived as "New Zealand Day". [30]

Proposals for abolition of holidays

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

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