Australia Vs. New Zeal Which Has More Public Holidays

by CiCi
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Public holidays play a significant role in the cultural and social fabric of nations around the world. They provide opportunities for communities to celebrate, commemorate historical events, and enjoy leisure time with family and friends. In the Australasian region, both Australia and New Zealand observe a number of public holidays throughout the year, each with its own unique significance and traditions. This article explores and compares the public holiday cultures of Australia and New Zealand, examining the number of holidays, their historical roots, and the ways in which they are celebrated.

A Brief History of Public Holidays in Australia and New Zealand

Before delving into the comparison, it is important to understand the historical context of public holidays in both Australia and New Zealand. Both countries have inherited their holiday traditions from European settlers, primarily from British influence due to colonization in the 18th and 19th centuries.


Australia’s early public holidays often revolved around important British events and Christian religious observances. Over time, as Australia developed its own identity, additional holidays were introduced to commemorate significant national events and cultural milestones. The process of formally declaring public holidays varies by state and territory in Australia, leading to some variation in the holidays observed across the country.


Similarly, New Zealand‘s public holidays also reflect its colonial past and subsequent development as an independent nation. The country observes holidays that mark historical events, Māori cultural celebrations, and days of national importance. The introduction of new holidays or changes to existing ones in New Zealand typically involve parliamentary legislation or government proclamation.

Comparison of Public Holidays

When comparing public holidays between Australia and New Zealand, several factors come into play. These include the number of holidays observed, their distribution throughout the year, cultural significance, and how they are celebrated by the respective populations.

Number of Public Holidays

One of the primary metrics for comparing public holidays is the total number observed in each country. Public holidays can be categorized into national holidays, regional holidays, and sometimes, cultural or religious observances.

Australia, being a federation of states and territories, exhibits some variability in the number of holidays observed across different regions. However, there are several common holidays observed nationwide, such as Australia Day, Anzac Day, Christmas Day, and Easter. In addition to these, each state and territory may observe additional holidays that are specific to their local history or culture. For example, Labour Day is observed on different dates in various states.

New Zealand, while also having a federal structure, has fewer public holidays compared to Australia. The country observes holidays such as Waitangi Day, Anzac Day, Christmas Day, and Easter, which are common across the nation. Some holidays, such as Queen’s Birthday and Labour Day, are observed on different dates depending on the region, similar to Australia.

In terms of total numbers, Australia generally has more public holidays compared to New Zealand. This is partly due to the larger number of states and territories in Australia, each with its own set of holidays in addition to the national holidays. New Zealand, on the other hand, has a more streamlined set of holidays that are observed nationwide with some regional variation.

Historical and Cultural Significance

The historical and cultural roots of public holidays provide insights into the values and identity of a nation. In both Australia and New Zealand, public holidays often commemorate historical events, honor significant figures, or celebrate cultural diversity.

Australia‘s public holidays reflect a blend of historical milestones, cultural celebrations, and religious observances. For example, Anzac Day commemorates the contribution of Australian and New Zealand soldiers in past conflicts, while Australia Day marks the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. These holidays often spark public debate and reflection on issues such as national identity and reconciliation with Indigenous Australians.

In New Zealand, public holidays also have deep historical significance. Waitangi Day, for instance, marks the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, a pivotal event in New Zealand’s history. Māori cultural traditions are integrated into many holidays, reflecting the country’s commitment to honoring its indigenous heritage alongside broader national celebrations.

Celebration and Observance

The way public holidays are celebrated varies between Australia and New Zealand, influenced by cultural practices, historical context, and regional traditions.

In Australia, public holidays such as Australia Day and Anzac Day are often marked by community events, parades, and ceremonies. Australia Day, in particular, is known for its festivities including barbecues, fireworks displays, and citizenship ceremonies. Anzac Day is more solemn, with dawn services held across the country to honor the memory of soldiers who served in wars.

New Zealanders also celebrate their public holidays with a mix of community activities and cultural events. Waitangi Day, for example, is observed with ceremonies at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and cultural performances that highlight Māori traditions. Christmas and Easter are widely celebrated with family gatherings, meals, and religious services, similar to practices in Australia.

Regional Variations

Both Australia and New Zealand exhibit regional variations in the observance of public holidays. In Australia, each state and territory has the authority to declare additional holidays or vary the dates of common holidays such as Labour Day and Queen’s Birthday. This leads to a diverse holiday calendar across the country, reflecting local history and customs.

In New Zealand, while some holidays are observed nationwide, others like Provincial Anniversary Days and regional anniversary holidays are specific to certain regions. These holidays often commemorate the founding of the province or historical events unique to that area.

Legislation and Public Opinion

The process of introducing, changing, or removing public holidays involves legislative action and public consultation in both countries. Governments consider factors such as historical significance, economic impact, and public sentiment when making decisions about holidays.

In Australia, debates about the appropriateness of Australia Day as a national holiday have sparked discussions about Indigenous rights and reconciliation. Calls to change the date of Australia Day to one that is less divisive continue to be a topic of public debate.

Similarly, in New Zealand, discussions about the observance of Waitangi Day and its significance to Māori culture are ongoing. Efforts to ensure the holiday is inclusive and respectful of indigenous perspectives are part of broader conversations about national identity and unity.


In conclusion, while both Australia and New Zealand share similarities in their public holiday calendars, there are distinct differences that reflect each country’s unique history, culture, and governance. Australia, with its larger number of states and territories, generally observes more public holidays compared to New Zealand. These holidays celebrate a diverse range of historical events, cultural traditions, and religious observances.

New Zealand, with its fewer but equally significant holidays, emphasizes its bicultural heritage through events like Waitangi Day and Māori cultural celebrations. Both countries continue to evolve their public holiday traditions in response to social changes, cultural diversity, and ongoing discussions about national identity.

Understanding the differences and similarities in public holidays between Australia and New Zealand provides insights into the values and priorities of each nation. Whether commemorating historical events, celebrating cultural diversity, or honoring religious traditions, public holidays serve as important markers in the shared narrative of these two countries in the Australasian region.


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