New Zealand declares Matariki a public holiday

New Zealand on Thursday announced a new public holiday which will celebrate the country's Māori people.

It's called Matariki, a celebration of the Māori New Year marked by the appearance of a star cluster known as the Pleiades.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who had pledged to establish the public holiday during her reelection campaign, made the announcement on Thursday.

"This is not just about a public holiday, it is a teaching moment. A chance to learn about something that is uniquely Maori. A chance to learn our navigational history, and we will begin doing that from the year 2022. And I can share for the first time today, that the first celebration of Matariki, after much advice from our advisory committee, will be on the 24th of June, 2022."

Ardern made her announcement at Waitangi, where over 150 years ago, a treaty was signed between Māori chiefs and the British crown.

But that treaty has since been broken, as the Māori lost much of their land under British colonisation.

Thousands of Māori, who currently account for about 15% of New Zealand's population, protested Ardern's government in 2019 saying they hadn't done enough to acknowledge their civil and social rights.

On Wednesday, New Zealand's government also proposed a national syllabus on Māori history.

The course will cover the Māori's arrival to New Zealand, the country's immigration and colonisation, and the Treaty of Waitangi.