Public holidays in New Zealand

Holidays in New Zealand include publicly observed holidays and holiday periods from work or education.

National public holidays

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

Christmas and New Year are "Mondayised" holidays, so if these fall on a weekend that 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 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.[1]

All workers who work on a public holiday must be both paid time-and-a-half and 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.[2]

While shops may trade on most public holidays, there are special trading restrictions on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and before 1pm on ANZAC Day. On those days, generally only dairies, petrol stations, pharmacies, restaurants and cafes, 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.)

In tourist towns, such as Queenstown in the South Island, some exemptions are granted by the district council for selected shops to open on Good Friday. The reason is to keep up the level of service to the tourists, as many would not know the shops will be closed on that day. However, liquor sale is restricted for some of that day (not usually a problem because shops are usually closed on that day).

Statutory holidays

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

Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day are always commemorated on the exact date, as they commemorate specific historical events. The holidays however are Mondayised, when they occur on the weekend.

For example, if 1 January or 25 December is a Saturday or Sunday, then the following Monday is the statutory holiday for New Year's Day or Christmas Day. If 2 January or 26 December is a Saturday, then the Day after New Year's Day or Boxing Day is celebrated on the next Monday. If either of these days occurs on a Sunday, then the holiday occurs on the following Tuesday, as the Monday will have been used for New Year or Christmas.

This situation has been complicated by the most recent revision of the Holidays Act. The holiday is Mondayised only if the employee would not usually work on weekends. For example, an office worker who works only Monday to Friday would get to the Statutory holidays on the Monday (or Tuesday for days that fell on Sundays). But an employee who usually worked Saturdays would not get the Monday holiday as they did not work on the Saturday.

In 2013, Waitangi Day and Anzac Day were both 'Mondayised' (although this will not be the case when Anzac Day falls in the Easter Weekend).[3]

Date Holiday[4]
1 January1 New Year's Day
2 January2 Day after New Year's Day
6 February3 Waitangi Day
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday
The day after Easter Sunday Easter Monday
25 April3 Anzac Day
The first Monday in June Queen's Birthday
The fourth Monday in October Labour Day
25 December1 Christmas Day
26 December2 Boxing Day
(1) or the following Monday if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday
(2) or the following Monday if it falls on a Saturday, or the following Tuesday if it falls on a Sunday
(3) or the following Monday if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday from 2015 (Anzac Day) and 2016 (Waitangi Day)

Provincial anniversary days

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. These are only celebrated within each province, not nationwide. Exact dates of the various province's 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[5] Easter Tuesday[6]
Taranaki (New Plymouth) New Plymouth 31 March Second Monday in March — to avoid Easter
South Canterbury 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 11th 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 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

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. 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.

School holidays

Schools have a 4-term year, of about ten weeks each and usually with a two-week holiday between terms. 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 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.

Proposals for new holidays

From time to time, there have been proposals to make Matariki an official holiday. In 2006, Māori Language Commissioner Haami Piripi made such a proposal.[7] Following the death of Sir Edmund Hillary, the Green Party proposed a public holiday in his honour.[8] There is also support in some quarters for the old Dominion Day holiday to be revived as "New Zealand Day".[9]

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.


  1. "Mondayised Public Holidays". New Zealand Department of Labour. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  2. "Pay for alternative holiday". New Zealand Department of Labour. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  3. "Extra public holidays voted in". 3 News NZ. 17 April 2013.
  4. "Holidays Act 2003 No 129 (as at 30 September 2008), Public Act". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  5. "Southland Anniversary Day". Southland Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  6. "Mayors decide on Anniversary Day Date". Southland District Council. Southland District Council. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  7. Dominion Day debate needless | NZ Herald

External links

See also

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