Public Holidays should be mandatory



I’ve always believed that public holidays should be mandatory.

It’s not that I really care about the Queen today as we celebrate her birthday, which isn’t her birthday, it’s that I care deeply about the need for us all to put down tools as citizens on specific days and all of us venture out into our amazing public spaces and be friendly with one another.

The importance of our civility in public towards one another, the importance of being tolerant of each other while sharing the same space and the importance to actually stop working and enjoy doing nothing but spend time with our family, friends and whanau would do more to building that sense of nationhood that we are always jealously eyeing Australia up for than any other thing.

The maternity section of a public hospital is amazing. This special place where life is birthed is shared by many different cultures, religions and ethnicities. Whenever I go there I sense the respect everyone gives to the space and to each other.

We need more of that in NZ.

As citizens, we have earned the right to have days off, and we need to hold onto this right and understand it is the universal application that is so important. It’s the need to share our beaches and out door spaces together on these days that builds bonds between families and groups of people who would never otherwise meet in their busy 9-5, 5-9 plus the odd late shift lives.

For those public servants forced to work while the rest of us play, the media should be full of ‘spare a thought for’ type stories so that our public servants who must continue to staff essential services while the rest of us relax are given the respect and admiration they deserve for their selfless functions.

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I would even go as far as demanding a new holiday – New Zealand Volunteers day. The idea being that there is one day a year we all universally have off to help volunteer in society all on the same day. It could be a mass planting, or cleaning up, or helping reach out to the elderly or migrant communities or anyone whose a bit different so we can all feel included. Or a thousand different other things.

That sense of self identity and nationhood that we always whine about not being present during Waitangi Day takes effort and can’t simply be left up to the ‘free market’. The space where that national identity can take shape has to be universally applied in the form of mandatory public holidays and not left to be traded in by unscrupulous employers who if given half a chance would make ‘Hi Ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go’ the new National anthem.

The thousands of different interactions generated by us all respectfully sharing the same space together on set days would do more for our understanding of each other than a million cartoons by Al Nisbet ever could.

What is the point of being a citizen in a democracy if we can’t enjoy the leisure of spending time outside in this glorious country? Are we really all wage slaves? Is that what a modern democracy has been denigrated too?

I have a dream to work every hour of the day by a boss who is screwing me over isn’t particularly inspirational is it?

So take today off. Share it with your family and loved ones outside where others are doing the same. If you can’t take the day off because you work in one of our emergency services – my respects to you.

Happy Queens Birthday-who-wasn’t-really-born-on-this-day Day New Zealand. You deserve a day off.


  1. NZ is a covert fascist police state, predicated on consumption of the planet we live on.

    References to democracy are inappropriate. NZ may have got close to democracy around the time of the Second World War (quite a bit before my time, so I can only for an opinion from hearsay), but the elites soon stamped it out and for the past several decades only bought-and-paid-for liars, opportunists and puppets of corporations and money-lenders have ever been in power.

    It’s all a faux democracy. And the managers and beneficiaries of this faux democracy maintain their stranglehold via political donations which are used for advertising, and via control of the ‘public’ media.

    There is one thing the elites cannot stand, and that is a well-informed general populace that can think things out and elect people who will tackle the gross inequality which characterises current arrangements; hence the dumbing-down that is being practised in the ‘education system’.

    Obedient slaves to the system, that is what the elite require. And consumers. So, rather than spending time developing skills, developing family relationshipsdeveloping real community, or becoming informed about their REAL state of the real state of the planet, a huge sector of the NZ populace will spend their holiday shopping for crap they don’t need.

  2. “It’s not that I really care about the Queen today as we celebrate her birthday”…

    Then go to work. She is the only reason we have this Public Holiday. and if your beliefs are strongly against the Queen, you wouldn’t bludge the day off now would you? you would go to work in protest.

    Thanks Queen for giving me this day off! wow that was easy.

    • Did we read the same piece? – or did ideological blinkers kick in?

      That said – I think we have way to few public holidays and need to add more.

      I’d like to see us celebrate Parihaka – as at least a 3 day celebration. Round the 5th of Nov.

      Waitangi ‘day’ always struck me as silly – Why the hell only one day – the process was quick – it took about a week – We should take a week off ever year to reflect.

      A “NEW ZEALAND WARS” day – as ANZAC does not cover our own internal wars.

      A”Musket Wars” day – that I expect may cause problems.

      “Maui” days – 4 holidays:

      “Maui the hero” day

      “Snaring the Sun” Day

      “The Fish of Maui” Day


      “Stealing Fire” Day

      Other events we should celebrate

      “Nuclear free” Day

      “Dominion” Day

      “Dawn Raid” Day – Nah can’t – they still happening.

      “Migrant” Day

      “Refuge” Day

      The list could go on…

    • She is the only reason we have this Public Holiday.

      No, the reason why we have this holiday is because a few people think we should bow and scrape before them. The monarchy happens to be the top of the list.

  3. That sounds like a great idea Martyn, volunteers day. Working together on a project with money not being the goal always ends up building a sense of community, purpose and belonging.

  4. A few years ago didn’t a bill go before the House to recognise Matariki as an official public holiday and it was voted down? Didn’t the business community whinge about the costs to the economy and John Key supported that stance? Why should our public holidays be so Eurocentric? Judging by the response from the recent cartoon controversy, I bet many would be up in arms if such a holiday was official.

    It’s good to see ideas to help improve our dull grey little lives as well as some nation building; unlike a government, agenda and supporters that likely will result in more misery and diminished sovereignty.

    Also spare a thought for the un/under-employed, some will have you believe they are on a permanent holiday on their own free will. Nonsense. Casual and unsecured employment – being treated like some tool to be put to work when needed and then tossed in a shed – people are not inanimate objects and require sufficient cash to survive. Doesn’t the government consider the negative impacts of this problem on say youth? Struggling on, what about when that black dog of depression strikes? Not a good outlook for our future.

    We are clearly governed by cold, unimaginative, mentally/morally-unemployed characters. Plans, some welfare and fairest can increase productivity not constant exploitation and exhaustion.

  5. Well said article.
    @”Afewknowthetruth – hit the nail on the head perfectly.
    To add my 2cents worth, the turning point for NZers lives came in 80’s.. upon “Economic Restructuring”..(preparing/opening NZ up to “Globalism”)
    Before that , the notable difference to families was-
    1) One breadwinner per family was enough
    2) Weekends were free time.
    Since those days ….well it’s obvious…= less time for families + more financial stress= more social problems, and more importantly..People too busy to think.
    The key words are -TOO BUSY TO THINK ..(to notice how certain strategies were being implemented by stealth, gradually, that would change life in NZ for the majority, for the worse)..
    This has not only been happening to NZ. Other countries are experiencing exactly the same trends. “Globalisation”..a worldwide Strategy…by a handful of people, the world’s Elite. Aiming for Global control. And they have no regard for human wellbeing. That’s why life in NZ (and in other countries) has gotten worse. And our politicians are playing their game. Haven’t you noticed how John Key et al do not actually care about people?

  6. Yes, Martyn, I agree! Queen’s Birthday is a holiday I could and would rather do without, but another type of holiday instead would probably make sense.

    Public holidays should be a true day off to allow all to engage in recreational activities, possibly more social interaction, in festivities, whatever, as this represents a chance to have people “bond” and exchange themselves with each other.

    The modern 24/7 shift working, long hours shopping, over individualised, almost “anti-collective” and even anti social kind of society we have now is one, where people struggle to find any social identity that they can share with each other.

    It is an experience to do things together, maybe just as a small or not so small family, even just as a couple or as a small group of gathering friends or relatives, also in larger crowds, playing or watching sports events, or going to a fair of sorts, or concerts or other public performances.

    This seems to be getting lost more and more, apart from those highly commercialised, often hyped up events. And so many do simply spend their free times on public holidays and weekends “shopping”, browsing Trade Me for bargains, driving around looking at flats or houses, and at cars, perhaps in the odd case do some DIY job at home.

    Social interaction seems to get more difficult for many, and catching a bus these days is a revelation of this, as almost every person sits there, holding a smart phone, mobile phone or tablet in front of them, texting, writing, messaging, reading and looking past each other’s views. Others have i-pods and other gadgets stuck into their ears and pockets.

    Nobody talks, or even dares to look another person into the face.

    What a change from the society I once grew up in, it is worlds apart, and it is sad and depressing.

    Time to give all, except perhaps a sceleton of emergency staff, time off again, at least a few days a year, so shop assistants, forecourt staff, restaurant and fast food workers, factory and sundry shift workers that work all kinds of days and hours, all get a day off at the same time.

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