Choose when to take stat holidays?


A Hindu group is calling for Diwali to be made a public holiday:

Universal Society of Hinduism president Rajan Zed, who is based in the US, said that the government needs to revisit its public holiday policies as the country’s demography has changed.*

He said it’s unfair for the Hindu community to be at work or school on their most popular festival and making it a public holiday would be a “a step in the positive direction”.

Zed said that awareness about other religions created by such holidays like Diwali would strengthen cohesion and unity in the country.

Would it, or would it, like most other statutory holidays, become just another day off with little or no interest in the reason behind it for most of us?

This year’s Diwali falls on Saturday, 14 November. In 2022, Diwali falls on Monday, 24 October.

October 24th will be Labour Day which is a national holiday anyway.

Easter’s changing dates already cause problems with planning, adding another movable celebration would cause more confusion.

Adding another holiday for one culture will add to calls for special days for other cultures to be recognised.

Labour made an election promise to make Matariki a public holiday.

That was popular and I wouldn’t object to it but I am in the camp which favours it replacing one of the 11 existing statutory holiday rather than adding a 12th although which it would replace is debatable.

Act leader David Seymour has an alternative idea:

Act says there’s a way to give workers the public holidays they want – without burdening employers with extra costs.

The party is calling for an overhaul to the current holiday laws. . . 

Leader David Seymour says national holidays like Anzac Day and Waitangi Day should be mandated – but other holidays like Easter and Labour Day don’t need to be.

He told Tim Dower making holidays flexible is better than creating more holidays.

“If you keep putting costs onto employment, you’ve got to apply some cause and effect thinking, because people who run businesses and employ people, they’re going to absorb that cost.”

Seymour says that the best option is to introduce some flexibility, with people able to trade out particular days.

Schools couldn’t have pupils taking days off at anytime to suit holidaying parents; having staff away at odd times could put pressure on other workers and some businesses find it easier to have all staff off at the same time.

People planning reunions, other celebrations and events often choose long weekends to maximise the chance of people being able to attend. With no set dates for holidays, numbers attending might be reduced.

However, people who have jobs in businesses or services that operate on holidays already have some choice over when they take their statutory days.

Flexibility over holiday dates could lead to a reduction in costs for employers too. If workers could choose which day to take a holiday it would do away with the current requirement to pay time and a half and give another day off to anyone who works on a statutory holiday.

It would allow people to choose dates that suited them, reduce traffic to and from holiday spots, and could even out some of the peaks and troughs for accommodation and activity providers in holiday hot spots by spreading visitor numbers over longer periods.

Flexibility over when statutory holidays are taken could work and it’s definitely better than adding another one.

Not paid to think?


When I read opinion pieces like this I wonder if the writer is paid to think:

. . .We get today off simply because it is “the day after New Year’s Day”. At least they could make up a name for “the day after Christmas Day”, aka Boxing Day. Don’t stop there. Why not the day before, as well?

Of course, some businesses will complain because money. Cry me a river. Public holidays are universally loved and drive spending in hospitality, tourism and in the regions. More importantly, they’re a day free (or well paid) of work. 

Public holidays might drive some spending in hospitality, tourism and the regions but not always.

We drove from Wanaka to Otahuti and back last Thursday, the second of the New Year public holidays.

We planned to stop for coffee at Five Rivers. The cafe was closed.

We were going to have lunch in Winton. Everything was closed.

We headed north to Lumsden. One cafe was closed, one had queues out the door and the third had a single worker who told us nothing on the lunch menu was available because she couldn’t cook and serve.

Why weren’t more staff on and more cafes open on a public holiday when there were so many travellers? Almost certainly because the extra costs of wages for people who work on a public holiday aren’t covered by the income.

Only sycophantic corporate slaves would argue against days off.

People who have to fund the extra costs of running essential businesses and services on public holidays would also argue against more days off.

This includes hospitals and other health providers, public transport, and rest homes. Then there’s providers of other businesses and services who have to be on call including medical and veterinary clinics and some trades and there’s 24 hour seven day a week businesses that can’t shut down for a holiday, like farms.

New Zealand has a measly 11 public holidays a year. If we were to live in Colombia or Iran, we would have 27! Luxembourg has 11, but also paid special leave for anniversaries, weddings or moving house. Another few days won’t sink the banks. . . 

We have 11 public holidays and four weeks annual leave – that’s five and 1/5 working weeks of paid time off.

A business with 10 workers is effectively paying someone to not work every week of the year.

And a business that is closed is making no money while still incurring fixed costs – mortgage, rates, insurance.

I once made the mistake of quipping to my boss I wasn’t paid to think.

He didn’t see the joke and made it very clear I was.

When I first read the piece on more days off I wondered if the writer had his tongue in his cheek. I don’t think he did and if he’s being paid to think he’s short-changing his employer.

Does new national day have to be another holiday?


Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says the government acknowledges the need for a national day to commemorate the land wars.

“The time to recognise our own conflict, our own war, our own fallen, because there is no doubt at Rangiriri ordinary people lost their lives fighting for principle in just the same way as New Zealand soldiers who lost their lives fighting on battlefields on the other side of the world,” Mr English said.

I agree with the need to commemorate the wars which are poorly understood by many.

It wasn’t until I studied New Zealand history at university that the muddled impression I’d got from school was corrected.

But if a new national day is going to necessitate a day off, does it have to be another holiday?

We already have 11 statutory holidays, with penalty rates and days off in lieu for anyone who works on any of these.

Those come on top of four weeks annual leave which adds up to a total of day more than six weeks of paid leave.

If you employ 5 people, that’s 30 weeks or more than half a year, with a staff member off which is a big cost for a small business.

I’m not suggesting we cut holidays but rather than just adding another day, let’s look at all the stat days, when they occur, why and whether any could go in favour of the new day off.

With New Year’s day and January 2nd, Wellington, Auckland,  Nelson, Otago, Southland and Taranaki  Anniversary days, Waitangi Day, Easter and Anzac Day  most people have five or six days off in the first four months of the year on top of annual leave, at least some of which is usually taken at that time.

Then there’s at least five or six weeks until Queen’s Birthday at the start of June and more than four months until Labour weekend in October for all but South Canterbury which has Anniversary Day in late September.

Hawkes Bay and Marlborough’s Anniversary Days fall in late October but are sometimes marked in early November.

Canterbury has Anniversary Day in early November and Westland’s and Chatham Islands’ Anniversary Days are at the end of November, though sometimes marked in early December.

The rest of us have no break for the couple of months from Labour weekend to Christmas.

Replacing all the different Anniversary days would be the easiest if someone was willing to deal with the uproar in Canterbury where theirs coincides with show and cup week.

Queen’s Birthday isn’t actually the Queen’s birthday and it could be replaced. Given how few people know what Labour Day signifies it is another option to give way to the new national day.

A new national day to commemorate an important part of our history is a good idea, but rather than simply adding a 12th statutory holiday,  let’s use it as an opportunity to look at existing statutory holidays and work out a better distribution of long weekends.







What about privacy?


Reporters from 3 News visited some of the people with Chinese-sounding names used by Labour to attack offshore buyers :

Of the 10 homes visited:

  • Three were owned by NZ citizens
  • One by a couple applying for permanent residency
  • One was a renter who didn’t know her landlord
  • One woman didn’t speak English
  • The rest – no one answered.

My grasp of stats isn’t great but I don’t think any reliable conclusions on Labour’s assertions can be garnered from this small sample.

Regardless of that, what about the privacy of the data and the people identified from it?

If I was one of the people on the list I’d be laying a complaint with the privacy commissioner.

I might also be talking to whichever is the appropriate body for dealing with complaints about the media behaviour.


Things to do in Oamaru


A few years ago friends came to stay a couple of nights on their way to Wanaka.

They ended up forgoing the trip to Central Otago in favour of staying longer with us.

It was one of those golden summers when days at the river a few kilometres from home were far more attractive than coping with holidaying hordes in more populous spots.

Not every summer is like that but the last few days have been good for holiday makers. We’ve had enough heat to enjoy the beaches or rivers but not too much to make other attractions too much of an effort.

When our friends visited, nearly three decades ago, Oamaru wasn’t regarded as a holiday destination.

That’s changed.

Lonely Planet, which had just two pages on the town five years ago now gives it nine and has dubbed Oamaru the coolest town in New Zealand.

An Explore Waitaki App will help you discover the district’s charms, find what’s where and how to get there.

I have yet to download it so don’t know if it will take you to places the locals go to cool off when the weather cooperates.

Rivers change and Gemmels Crossing where I spent many summer days as a child is no longer so good for swimming.

But there are still good swimming holes further up the Kakanui River near Clifton Falls and the Waitaki River also has some great picnic and swimming spots.

For those who prefer beaches, there’s Campbells Bay, All Day Bay and Moeraki.

Oamaru and the Waitaki District  hinterland have lots of other attractions.

Oamaru Today is very good at highlighting things to see and do and I’m planning to write posts about the area over the next few days.

You’re welcome to add your own ideas for holiday makers in North Otago of further afield.




Schools key to shifting summer holidays


The Listener has joined the call for the summer holidays to be shifted to February when the weather is more likely to be better.

The slow start to warmer weather isn’t new.

My father was a carpenter at the freezing works. When they shut down over the Christmas-New Year period he was required to stay at work to do maintenance which wasn’t possible when the chains were operating.

We didn’t mind. He took a couple of weeks off at the end of January when the weather was almost always better than it had been in the preceding weeks.

It was almost always better still when we returned to school in February and while there are no guarantees with the weather that is still more likely to be the case.

This is what’s driving the growing chorus to have Christmas and Boxing Day as days off on their own and move the summer holidays at least a month later.

Any business could do that now  and some individuals do choose to take only the statutory days off for Christmas and New Year and have holidays later.

The northern hemisphere does that because it’s the middle of winter and their summer holidays are usually taken in August, the same stage of the season as February would be here.

What keeps most people and businesses here sticking to the late December-early January shut-down is school holidays. Workers with children want at least some of their holidays to coincide with their children’s.

The key to shifting summer holidays then lies with schools. If the education year can be adjusted to start in March, and finish in January the main summer holiday period would shift to February too.

It wouldn’t make much difference on farms because all summer is busy but it would increase the chances the rest of the country would get holiday weather when they’re on holiday rather than in the following weeks when they’re back at work.

In Praise of Holidays:


Quote of the day:

Everyone has their own perspective of course, but I can’t help but think that sometimes we worry about stuff that doesn’t really matter. We spend too much time anxious and don’t give ourselves enough space to think, innovate and create. We create burdens and anxieties that we don’t need, cant change and that actually don’t matter. Perhaps we need to chill out, relax, take time to think, and back ourselves. Holidays are a good thing! Connor English (not yet on-line).



It’s 7am*.

It’s Sunday.

Tomorrow’s a holiday.

It’s Queen’s Birthday (but not actually the Queen’s birthday) and monarchist or not, almost any excuse for a long weekend is a good one.


I am.

* It’s 8.44pm as I type this but the wonders of time-delayed posts mean it will be 7am when it’s published. I hope it’s much later than that when you read it.

Open and closed


Today isn’t Otago Anniversary Day – that’s a couple of days away on the 23rd.

That is the date on which the John Wickliffe arrived in Port Chalmers with the first settlers.

But our provincial holiday is a nominated day which means people can choose to take it today, the closest Monday to the actual date, or any other day they see fit.

Some businesses observe today, some prefer to tack an extra day’s holiday on to Easter and some take it on another day.

That means confusion reigns today. Government agencies, council offices, banks, shops and other businesses with which we might want to interact will be open and some will be closed today, the Tuesday after Easter and whichever other day they choose.

Had the captain of the John Wickliffe been able to foresee the confusion the date of his ship’s arrival would cause, he might have chosen a better one – but which would that be?

Where have all the people gone?


Wanaka’s permanent population is about 5,000 but it usually builds up to about 20,000 over New Year.

Locals and regular visitors know to stock up on supplies before then to avoid queues in the supermarket which can stretch the length of the aisles.

This summer I’ve never seen more than four or five people in a queue. The introduction of 6 self-checkouts will have helped but the rest of the supermarket hasn’t been as crowded as in past years either.

On New Year’s Eve we wandered into town at about 10.30 expecting to find the normal hordes and found a fraction of the number we’d seen in previous years.

There are still plenty of visitors but shops and businesses report they’re not here in the numbers they’ve come to expect at what is normally the peak holiday period.

Does that mean people have gone somewhere else, or is it a sign of recession and they’re staying at home?

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