Term three is the crunch term in New Zealand secondary schools. It’s where the bulk of senior courses are more or less ‘wrapped up’ and then the students have to sit mock-exams. It’s always a long term; a 10-week ordeal with no public holidays whatsoever that begins in the depths of winter. It’s really hard slog. I’m two days in to the term and I have a tiredness headache already. And when I think about everything I have to get through this term – ugh! So daunting (so I thought I’d procrastinate by writing a blog post, heh). No need to mention how much I did in the ‘holidays’ either, eh…
So, I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on how few public holidays New Zealanders actually get. We have 11 this year – New Years Day, the day after New Years Day, Waitangi Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Queen’s Birthday, Labour Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day - plus each province gets its Anniversary holiday. Oh, and often, one or two fall on weekends so we don’t really get ‘em. That seems to happen an awful lot… Did you know that China gets 16 public holidays every year? And I’m damn sure that both England and Argentina have more than we do, having lived in both of these countries at some point in my life.
I would like to see the introduction of a new public holiday for New Zealanders later in the year, preferably in the region of term three. Why? Because all working New Zealander deserve an added day’s break between Queen’s Birthday, in early June, and Labour Day, in late October. That’s a reeeeeaaaaaaally long time with no public holiday. And I can’t deny that it would suit me perfectly too, as a teacher.
I propose that we celebrate the birth of Sir Edmund Hillary on the 20th July. The 20th July usually falls in term three (except for this year, due to the Grrrrrugby World Cup). Sir Edmund Hillary is a kiwi that everyone loves, and it’s always nice to celebrate something that we love; see how people enjoy Christmas more than Waitangi Day? Yeah. As an atheist grinch who actually believes that Te Tiriti is a valuable document, despite the fundamental flaws in translation, I find this a little weird. Don’t get me wrong – I love the day off, but I dislike all the mindless obligation and consumerism that comes with it. Yeah, bah humbug. Anyway, to re-iterate, I vote for Sir Edmund Hillary’s birthday as our new day of public rest. He is a well-respected New Zealander (because climbing a huge mountain is, well…I can’t deny that isn’t a great feat – a test of the human spirit, fitness, endurance etc., but is it actually, er, useful? Nonetheless) and we all work so bloody hard that I think we could do with one more. I’m confident that most New Zealanders would agree with me on that one. After all, statistics show we work long hours, for low wages (and that’s a whole other blog post that I will no doubt write at some point).
Having said all this, I am open to suggestions. If someone proposed making Matariki an official public holiday I would welcome it with open arms, even though it falls in term two, I think. The day of Muldoon’s death? Go for it! The 5th August is perfect! I wouldn’t even mind if we had to make it something that we all pretended to respect (for example, Anzac Day with the old, “Lest we forget”; it’s all very well remembering how shitty and deadly war was but New Zealand governments - both National and Labour - keep sending troops into war zones…) because in the end, we all just need another holiday.