Mānawatia a Matariki! ✨


Matariki pluses and minuses


People in the northern hemisphere have had mid winter celebrations for centuries. There it comes conveniently at the end of one calendar year and the start of another.

Whenever it comes in the calendar, there’s something to be said for something to take our minds off the dark and cold, and a celebration that is uniquely ours.

The stars of course are universal, but Matariki is New Zealand’s – or should that be Aotearoa’s?

Fireworks in the middle of winter when it’s dark by five o’clock make a lot more sense than having them in November when the sun doesn’t set until several hours later, and the fire danger is much greater.

Passing quickly over the thought that fireworks might be cultural appropriation, the ODT opines that  they struck the wrong note with the advisory group guiding the Government on the new holiday.

Fireworks do not align with a core value of Matariki — mana taiao (environmental awareness) — as they pollute the night sky with light and noise and can litter the sea with debris.

It also seems odd, when stars are being celebrated, to be adding something artificial to the sky rather than observing what is already there. . .

So maybe no fireworks.

While many will enjoy any excuse for a day off, they all come at a  cost to business. Matariki is the 12th statutory holiday.

Add those 12 days to the minimum four weeks annual leave and that’s more than six working weeks when workers aren’t working.

It has been estimated that the public holiday could cost businesses up to $448 million.

An unintended consequence of having a holiday on a Friday, rather than a Monday, is that it will increase wage costs for those hospitality outlets which might usually close on Mondays and so not usually be up for paying penal rates. . . 

Good Friday is the only statutory holiday that always falls on a Friday. Others are either on the day they happen to fall, or Monday.

Holidays for any that fall on Saturday or Sunday are Mondayised.

No-one in the government appears of have thought about the impact on hospitality operations that are usually very busy on Fridays and quieter, or closed, on Mondays.

That could well be another sign we’ve got a government with little, if any, appreciation of business.

Whatever the pluses and minuses, we’ve got another holiday and it’s likely to stay, although moving it from Friday to Monday might be a possibility.

Ma’amalade sandwich Your Majesty?


And the longer version:

Platinum jubilee


Monarchist or republican, could anyone deny that Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years of service and dedication to her role have been remarkable?


O Holy Night


Kiri Te Kanawa At Christmas


When a Child is Born


Te Harinui


Christmas Truce – Joyeux Noel


Children tell the Christmas story


If I could give . . .


If you had the power to give the people you love anything at all for Christmas, what would you choose?

Great wealth and the choices it enables would be very tempting.

But if I could give absolutely anything, I hope I would have the wisdom to look beyond material presents to choose the gifts that money can’t buy, and which need neither bright wrappings nor fancy ribbons to make them special.

The first gift I’d give would be the strength and courage which enables us to find a silver lining in the darkest of clouds, to regard the glass as half-full rather than half-empty, to believe that the bad times will pass and that the good will get better.

With this would go the Pollyanna factor – the propensity to look towards a bright morning in the middle of the darkest night, to seek the first glimmerings of a rainbow while the storm is still raging, to spot the gold where others might see only dross and to find something positive not just in spire of but also because of the negatives.

This would be my first gift – that of hope.

Then would come the gift of lightness of spirit that reflects gladness and delight, a wholehearted pleasure in life and in living.

People with this gift know laughter is the only cure for grief.

They have an inner glow and they also have a depth of vision which enables them to uncover the extraordinary no matter how deeply it is buried under the ordinary,

The appreciate the greatness in small things and celebrate it.

This is what give a light in the eye and a song in the heart – it is the gift of joy.

The third gift would have to start with the tools people require to get on with themselves and each other; the ability to listen carefully, think critically and speak clearly – and in that order.

These are the basic communication skills which enable us to understand other people’s thoughts and feelings, and express our own.

Add to those tolerance, flexibility, an openness to other points of view, as well as the willingness to seek consensus when differences occur and to accept compromise when consensus is impossible.

If we mastered these as individuals it would flow on to better relationships in and between families, communities and countries.

It is the gift of peace.

The fourth gift is the biggest of all.

To work properly and be felt deeply it needs hope, joy and peace but is much greater than all of these.

It requires selflessness and sacrifice, humility and humour; the willingness to put others first, to laugh with them and at yourself.

Paradoxically, the more you seek it the less likely you are to find it and those who have the most of it are the ones who give the most to others.

It is the most powerful emotion of all, the one that motivates parents and inspires poets.

It is love.

Yes, these are the four things I would leave under the Christmas tree for my nearest and dearest if it was in my power to give them absolutely anything at all – hope, joy, peace and love.

There is a familiar ring to that and I have a funny feeling I am not the first to have thought of giving these gifts.

O Holy Night – O Helga Natt


Away In A Manger


Mary’s Boy Child,


Be merry in merino


Little Drummer Boy


Silent Night


Deck the Halls


Adeste Fidelis


Last year James left a comment on a carol I posted with the following recommendations:

. . .May I suggest for next year that Pavarotti is still the stand out version of “Adeste Fidelis” and that the best tenor’s version of Oh Holy Night is still Jussi Bjorling. Of all the Christmas songs “Deck the Halls” is best sung by Joan Sutherland. Most carols require simplicity and humility so you may be surprised at how well Rod Stewart sings Silent Night and Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band take The Little Drummer Boy really well. Mary’s Boy Child I just like Boney M, but as a rule the soundest singer for any and all would be Anne Murray from Canada. . . 

For the next week, I will follow his advice with a carol each day.

Farmer Christmas


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