Another public holiday 'a luxury we can't really afford' - Luxon

National says Aotearoa "can't really afford" to add another public holiday as the country gets closer to celebrating Matariki in June, while Labour has hit out at the suggestion another national holiday should be removed.

Christopher Luxon, National Party leader.

National leader Christopher Luxon said that if the Government was going to be "serious about a cost of living crisis, you actually have to make some tough decisions".

National has been suggesting replacing another public holiday with Matariki.

"Love Matariki, love Labour day, love every public holiday we've got here in New Zealand, but we're choosing to make a decision to add $450 million worth of costs to small businesses who have to pass it onto customers with higher prices."

"So the consequences if they pay those costs, they have to charge them through with higher prices, which drives through more inflation which isn't what we want when we have a cost of living crisis.

"These are mum and dad café owners, they're not rich, wealthy, big end of town business people, that's what business is in New Zealand."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said from Singapore that she did not "believe that we need to get rid of another iconic public holiday in order for New Zealand to claim as our own, our first te ao Māori public holiday in Matariki".

"We know, having just had Easter, that public holidays represent many things for New Zealanders, time to be together, but also an opportunity for New Zealanders to engage in domestic tourism and hospitality, both of which will be welcome at this particular time."

ACT's David Seymour found in early 2021, the price tag of an extra holiday could amount to $450m for businesses.

“Now that the true cost of creating a 12th public holiday is clear, ACT believes the Government needs to identify another holiday to be removed from the calendar," he did at the time.

"It’s a shame, but as a nation we simply can’t afford to add more holidays."

ACT suggested in 2020 to abolish Labour Day when the Labour Party proposed Matariki as a public holiday.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood said it was estimated labour costs for employers would be about $395m per year in costs of employees who would be away from work, with another $41.6m of increased payments for employees who work the public holiday.

"MBIE estimates that the net financial impact of a new Friday public holiday is between a net positive (benefit) of $25.7m and a net negative (cost) of $133m depending on the assumptions made about the value of people’s leisure time," Wood said.

National's suggestion to replace another holiday with Matariki had been around since election 2020 - with the party's then-leader Judith Collins suggesting regional anniversary days or Labour Day to Stuff.

While National's Scott Simpson said in Parliament that "the prudent and proper thing would be, yeah, sure, create the Matariki public holiday, that's good and appropriate, but let's consider getting rid of one".

"I've got a good suggestion for being rid of one: let's get rid of Labour Day."

Luxon has been also suggesting Labour Day, this morning on RNZ saying when asked if National would cancel a public holiday should it be in Government.

“That’s what we’ve been saying since the bill came to Parliament, we’re very supportive of Matariki, why don’t we cancel Labour day?” Luxon said.

Wood called Luxon "out of touch with Kiwi families who need a break between Queens Birthday and Christmas".

"Luxon’s policy would see us drag further behind the international pack."

When asked what Matariki meant to him, Luxon said Matariki was a "really important, significant holiday".

"As lovely as it would be to have another holiday, it's a luxury we can't really afford."

Explainer: What is Matariki?