A bill to give workers extra days off when Anzac Day and Waitangi Day fall on weekends has passed its first reading in parliament despite government opposition.
Amid applause from Labour's benches, MP David Clark's member's bill to "Mondayise" the public holidays went through on a vote of 61 to 60 on Wednesday.
It was the first time the government has lost a vote on a bill, and National MP said they didn't like the legislation because of the cost it would impose on businesses.
They also argued that Anzac Day and Waitangi Day marked important events which should be remembered on their anniversary dates, not by having a holiday the following Monday.
Labour leader David Shearer says it won't undermine the significance of those days because they will still be marked on February 6 and April 25.
The bill's supporters said workers shouldn't be deprived of the holidays when those dates fell on weekends.
"This doesn't have a huge cost around it. It's about New Zealanders basically getting the holidays that they deserve in any given year," Labour leader David Shearer said.
Other public holidays are "Mondayised" and Labour members said there were no good reasons why Anzac Day and Waitangi Day should be different.
The Department of Labour has estimated the annual cost to the economy when one holiday falls on a weekend is $203.6 million, and if two fell on weekends in the same year it would cost $407.2m.
Labour MPs say those costs are hugely exaggerated, and pointed out that in Australia, when Anzac Day falls on a weekend, the following Monday is a holiday.
The first time one of the holidays will fall on a weekend is 2015 and they won't both fall on a weekend in the same year until 2021.
Labour, the Greens, NZ First, the Maori Party, the Mana Party and United Future supported the bill.
National and ACT opposed it.
The bill has been sent to a select committee for public submissions.