ON THE CALENDAR TODAY
New Zealand is a country that entertains interests of Christians, patriots and native communities. Its public holidays, however, mainly satisfy the needs of the first two groups. There are 11 public holidays proclaimed in the country: New Year’s Day, Day After New Year’s Day, Waitangi Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, ANZAC Day, Queen’s Birthday, Labour Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and one local natal holiday for each old province. Generally the law requires from employers to pay their workers one and a half regular salary or grant them a paid day off. That is why most public institutions and private offices close for the day. The regulations concerning all New Zealand holidays are included in the Holidays Act 2003 and its amendment. Provincial anniversaries are exceptional, because they are proclaimed by the local officials.
Public holidays in New Zealand are divided between these “Mondayised” and the ones that are not. New Year’s Day and Christmas have been Mondayised for the longest period, and ANZAC Day and Waitangi Day joined them on January 1, 2014. This means that if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the employees who would normally not work on that day are granted a paid day off on Monday. A somewhat different case is with Day After New Year’s Day and Boxing Day, since those two fall right after their more popular predecessors. If they come on a Saturday, they are moved to Monday, but if they are observed on a Sunday, the free day comes on Tuesday. Some provincial anniversaries might be Mondayised, depending on the district policy. These holidays are somewhat controversial, because the celebrated provinces had been established by the colonists and have not existed since 1876. Some people insisted on replacing these dates with Waitangi Day, but it has been introduced by the Waitangi Day Act 1960 without abolishing the provincial anniversaries.
While New Zealand workers can make use of 11 annual public holidays and a minimum of four-week vacation, the students (and, as a consequence, their teachers) have the year divided into four terms with respective school breaks. Moreover, some educational institutions honor Easter Tuesday, which can, for example, incidentally fall on the Otago Anniversary. When it comes to provincial holidays, there are twelve that occur yearly, but their dates vary. There are five Anniversaries that fall on a Monday closest to a particular date: Wellington (January 22), Auckland (January 29), Nelson (February 1), Otago (March 23) and Chatham Islands (November 30). Southland Anniversary always takes place during Easter Tuesday, and Taranaki on the second Monday in March in order to omit Easter holidays. South Canterbury celebrates on the fourth Monday of September which coincides with Dominion Day. Hawke’s Bay and Malborough Anniversaries fall in relation to Labour Day, and Canterbury with Westland celebrate on different dates throughout their regions.
The main objective of the public holiday policy in New Zealand is to give the country’s employees an opportunity to relax or have extra pay for their hard work. Since the break between Christmas and the New Years is not free, many New Zealanders create themselves a ten-day vacation by burning their annual leave. It is a popular summer option. There are a few controversies connected to some holidays, e.g. a suggestion to revoke Queen’s Birthday and introduce a more home-related occasion or the protest against commerce restrictions on ANZAC Day. Nevertheless, public holidays in New Zealand are always good opportunities to relax and spend some time away from job obligations.