In the Northern hemisphere Christmas in December is a midwinter holiday, bringing hope and the renewal of the light when life is dark and cold. In the Southern hemisphere the December timing makes no sense as we enjoy long hot days.

In Aotearoa New Zealand there is a long grind of months of winter from the Queen’s Birthday weekend at the start of June to Labour Day at the end of October.

Now, at last, we have a midwinter holiday to mark the transition from old year to new, based on the culture of the people indigenous to this country and on astronomy: Matariki public holiday passes into law.

Matariki brings a focus on remembering those who have died, celebrating the present, and looking ahead to the future and the coming season, though the stories told, traditions honoured ….

The celebration is underpinned by values of aroha (love), whakamaharatanga (remembrance), kotahitanga (unity), manaakitanga (caring), tohatoha (sharing), mana taiao (environmental awareness), hākari (feasting), wānanga (discussion), noho tahi (coming together), atawhaitanga (kindness), whakanui (celebrations) and tuakiritanga (identity).

The bill is only the fifth piece of legislation drafted in both te reo Māori and English.