Legislation establishing a one-off public holiday next Monday has passed under urgency in parliament.
All MPs from Labour, the Greens and National supported the Queen Elizabeth Memorial Day holiday on September 26. However, all 10 Act MPs and both Te Pāti Māori MPs voted against the bill.
Workplace relations minister Michael Wood said the public holiday would allow New Zealanders to reflect on the Queen’s legacy. “We anticipate many people will want the opportunity to pay their respects and this public holiday offers communities across the country the ability to come together and pay tribute at their own local events also,” he said.
“Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day will also coincide with the state memorial service, to be held in Wellington Cathedral. This will be televised and live-streamed. The decision to hold a one-off public holiday in the Queen’s honour is also in line with similar holidays in the UK and Australia.”
But Act leader David Seymour questioned whether it was possible to both believe that the Queen was “an outstanding leader” and be “opposed to what amounts to a political stunt”.
He added: “I would say that it’s totally possible to honour the Queen and oppose this holiday.” He said a one-off holiday for the death of a monarch was “unprecedented” and that it was too costly for New Zealand businesses.
In agreement was Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi, though for different reasons. “We must acknowledge the brutal genocidal and ongoing impact of colonialism, of the imperial project that was overseen by the house of Windsor and its forebears, here in Aotearoa and around the world,” he said. “We cannot support this holiday. This holiday is a torturous and an insulting reminder for us.”