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Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Zealand's clocks go forward

Just in case you are phoning New Zealand next week

Even New Zealanders don't know about it.

The paper doesn't consider it news, and neither, as far as I can tell, does television.

So it is up to me to tell New Zealand and the world.

New Zealand daylight saving commences on Sunday 30 September, when at 2 a.m. the clocks go forward one hour.

Did you know that New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to officially adopt a nationally observed standard time? New Zealand Mean Time, adopted on 2 November 1868, was set at 11 hours 30 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Greenwich Mean Time was established by British Railways in the 1840s but was not made Great Britain's standard time until 1880.

Origins of Daylight Saving in New Zealand

Cartoon of T.K Sidey from New Zealand Free Lance, 30 September 1911. Courtesy of and astronomer George Hudson was the earliest known advocate of daylight saving in New Zealand. Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society in 1895 advocating for seasonal time adjustment. However society members ridiculed his idea. It was not until 1909 that the issue was next raised, by Parliamentarian Hon Sir Thomas Sidey who argued for putting clocks forward by one hour during summer so that there would be an additional hour of daylight in the evenings.

In that year he introduced a Member’s Bill to put this idea into effect. The Bill was rejected, but Sidey was persistent, reintroducing it every year for the next 20 years. It almost became law in 1915 and again in 1926 when it was passed by the House of Representatives, but was rejected by the Legislative Council (which was New Zealand’s upper house of Parliament until 1951).

During the second reading of his Summer Time Bill in 1926, Sidey argued that:
the extra hour of daylight after working-hours during the summer months is of especial value to indoor workers and the community as a whole as it gives one additional hour for recreation of all kinds, whether playing games or working in garden plots…one cannot overlook the economic advantages that will also accrue. There will be a saving in the consumption of artificial light.

Much of the debate in the House of Representatives centered on the impact on people in rural areas
and women in particular.

Opponents of the Bill commented that:
[Summer Time] will bring no happiness to the women of New Zealand who live in the backblocks. [the Bill] does not make the case for now requiring the wife of the working-man to get up an hour earlier in order to get her husband away to his work.

In 1927 Sidey was successful. The passing of the Summer Time Act that year authorised the advancement of clocks by one hour between 6 November 1927 and 4 March 1928. The Act was only operative for one year, and when the Summer Time Act 1928 was passed extending the period of summer time from 14 October 1928 to 17 March 1929, the period of advancement was changed to just half an hour. This made New Zealand Summer Time 12 hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time.

The Summer Time Act 1929 enacted the provision of a 30-minute time advance from the second Sunday in October to the third Sunday in March the following year. In 1933 the period was extended from the first Sunday in September to the last Sunday in April of the following year. This continued until 1941, when the period of Summer Time was extended by emergency regulations to cover the whole year. This change was made permanent in 1946 by the Standard Time Act.

Cartoon of T.K Sidey from New Zealand Free Lance, 30 September 1911. Courtesy of

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