Dunedin North MP David Clark makes the case for
"Mondayising" Waitangi and Anzac days. Dr Clark's Holidays
(Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and Anzac Day) Amendment
Bill has its first reading in Parliament tomorrow.
ANZAC and Waitangi are of growing importance to our identity
as New Zealanders and our sense of history. They deserve to
have the full recognition that our other holidays get.
But there is a glitch that happens twice every seven years -
when Waitangi or Anzac falls on a weekend. We miss out on the
holiday we get other years. It happened last year. And it
rankled. People got only nine public holidays instead of the
My member's Bill, now before Parliament, fixes the glitch. It
aims to make sure hard-working New Zealanders get the public
holidays they deserve. The vote on its first reading happens
Waitangi and Anzac will still be celebrated on February 6 and
April 25 respectively. What is new is that Kiwi workers will
get a day off the following Monday to spend with friends and
And Kiwis deserve these holidays. The cost is negligible.
Government officials suggest there may even be a net benefit
to the economy once the benefits of rested workers and
boosted domestic tourism are taken into account.
We know rested workers are more productive than tired,
overstressed ones. It is one reason holidays should never be
viewed as simply a cost for businesses.
We also know that workers in wealthier countries tend to work
fewer hours in paid employment than those in low-income
For example, the average New Zealander works an hour or two
longer every week in paid employment than an Australian
worker. But they do not get paid as much.
The two extra days off every seven years that my Bill creates
will not fix the problem of our long hours on its own - but
it is a step in the right direction.
A number of other factors, including wage structures and
access to capital, explain Australia's economic success - but
that is a topic for another occasion. Suffice to say, higher
wages and more leisure time also allow for more unpaid
contributions to the community.
Despite our lower wages, one of my favourite things about
Otago is that it is still a place people work to live rather
than living to work.
Well spent leisure time is valuable to communities. The
social capital that is derived from friendships, networks and
unpaid work is difficult to measure, yet people can easily
sense when a community has it - and when it does not.
In Otago, we have hobbies and get involved in communities in
a way which is being lost further north. This quality of
community is an important part of what makes the South a
great place to live. We are good at it, but we could always
By Mondayising Waitangi and Anzac, my Bill will achieve a
little more time for people to be involved in their
For that reason alone, I think it is worth doing.
Across the Ditch, seven out of eight Australian states
already "Mondayise" both their national day and Anzac Day
when they fall on a weekend. That is what my Bill will
achieve for New Zealanders too.
Australian observers report a growing attendance at Anzac
dawn services. It makes sense.
People are more likely to get up for dawn services on a
Sunday morning when they know they can have a lie-in and time
with the family on the Monday that follows.
I expect the same will happen here.
If my Bill progresses expeditiously, Waitangi and Anzac may
have the same recognition as other holidays by year's end. It
looks likely to happen; my Labour colleagues, the Green
Party, New Zealand First, the Maori Party, United Future and
the Mana Party have all pledged their support. I thank them
Unfortunately, the importance of time with family, friends
and wider community seems lost on the National Party. I am
baffled at reports that the Government intends to oppose my
Mondayising Bill. Even employers' groups and right-wing
bloggers that usually support them think my Bill makes sense.
The public of New Zealand are overwhelmingly in favour of it.
Only National and Act are opposed.
They seem increasingly out of touch.