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John MacDonald: Christmas sales yes. Matariki sales no. Why?

Author
John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 Jun 2022, 1:19pm
(Photo / Getty Images)
(Photo / Getty Images)

John MacDonald: Christmas sales yes. Matariki sales no. Why?

Author
John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 Jun 2022, 1:19pm

Memo to Elton John: sorry is no longer the hardest word.

Because it seems we have apologies coming out of our ears at the moment. The latest one is from retailer Babycity.

It's saying sorry for promoting a Matariki sale. Matariki, of course, is the Maori New Year which we are celebrating with the public holiday tomorrow - the first time there’s ever been a Matariki holiday.

But Babycity is in hot water because it decided to have a sale and promoted it as its Matariki Sale. Not allowed - it seems.

There’s been a bit of commentary around this during the week with a clear message coming through that retailers and businesses shouldn’t be cashing in on Matariki.

It’s even been coming from the Government - via its Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (or MBIE).

But have you ever heard the Government or any of its agencies saying the same thing about Christmas, or Easter, or ANZAC Day? I haven’t. Sure, there are trading laws but I have never heard a government agency telling businesses they shouldn’t be trying to commercialise these significant days.

Although the horse has already bolted on that front, hasn’t it? I can’t imagine MBIE coming out and telling retailers not to commercialise Christmas.

But Matariki is brand new and there seems to be quite a bit of zealousness around the place, which maybe we should‘ve expected given it’s the first time we’ve had a public holiday to celebrate the Maori New Year.

There’s been the “Matariki is not for sale” campaign. Which really feels to me like some sort of Matariki-police thing going on.

And that’s why we’ve got Babycity today putting out this apology.

“We have received feedback from our lovely Babycity community that our decision to promote our sale under the name Matariki was in extremely poor taste. We sincerely apologise for being culturally insensitive and for any distress this may have caused. Please know that it was never our intention to offend or disrespect the sacred celebration of Matariki.”

Talk about over the top. Well, that’s what I think anyway. And I’m not saying that out of any disrespect towards the meaning and purpose of Matariki. I think it is brilliant that we are recognising and celebrating it in a way we never have before, as a country.

I’m saying it’s over the top because do we ever get retailers and other businesses getting the same sort of pressure about having Christmas sales, or Easter sales or ANZAC sales? No we don’t.

For example, Noel Leeming and Nood are a couple of places that have ANZAC sales. Sleepyhead and Farmers - they have Chinese New Year sales. Does anyone kick-up a fuss about that? Not that I’ve heard.

And if anyone did, do you think retailers would give in and issue heartfelt apologies like Babycity is doing today? Of course they wouldn’t.

And what about Briscoes' "Long Weekend Sale”. Talk about the Matariki sale you have when you’re not having a Matariki sale.

Which shows how ridiculous this has all become.