The following days are observed as public holidays throughout New Zealand: New Year's Day, Second day of January, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Sovereign's birthday, Labour Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.
The custom of holding public holidays on a Monday, if it so happened that they fell on a Saturday, apparently began in New South Wales and South Australia. According to a statement made in 1907 by Sir J. G. Ward, New Zealand was then prepared to approve the adoption of this practice.
Christmas and New Year Holidays
The Public Holidays Act of 1955 states that when Christmas Day and New Year's Day fall on a Friday, the observance as a holiday of Boxing Day and the second day of January is transferred to the following Monday, and when Christmas Day and New Year's Day fall on a Saturday and Sunday their observance as a holiday, together with that of Boxing Day and the second day of January, is transferred to the following Monday and Tuesday.
Anzac Day is observed as a holiday only on 25 April and its observance is not transferred to any other day.
Under the Sovereign's Birthday Observance Act of 1952, the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second is observed as a public holiday not on her birthday, which is 21 April, but on the first Monday in June.
Labour Day is observed on the fourth Monday in October.
Provincial Anniversary Days
Provincial Anniversary Days are on the following dates: Auckland, 29 January; Canterbury, 16 December; Hawke's Bay, 1 November; Marlborough, 1 November; Nelson, 1 February; Otago and Southland, 23 March; Taranaki, 31 March; Wellington, 22 January; and Westland, 1 December.
But the holidays for these days are usually observed on the following Monday where this day falls on Friday or later, or on the preceding Monday where it falls on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. In some places the holiday is taken on a local show day; in others it has been transferred to the day before or after Easter regardless of the date of the anniversary. Thus the significance of the day has been lost.
According to the Waitangi Day Act of 1960, 6 February is to be observed as a national day of commemoration and thanksgiving for the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Waitangi Day may be observed in any locality as a public holiday provided it is a substitute for any other – for example, a provincial anniversary day. At present, with the exception of Northland, it is not observed throughout New Zealand as a public holiday.
by John Sidney Gully, M.A., DIP.N.Z.L.S., Assistant Chief Librarian, General Assembly Library, Wellington.