Susan Ryder wakes up to daylight saving.
This is a whinge about daylight saving. Not daylight saving per se, I hasten to add, because I love the concept, but a whinge about the starting time. In a nutshell, it’s too early.
I can remember when daylight saving, as we know it, started. There was a trial period over the summer of 1974/5 when I was a marching girl … now there’s an image for you! Marching was a huge summer sport for girls, with competitions held every weekend in centres all around the country. It was loads of fun with the added bonus of visiting all the Wanganuis and Waipuks along the way. Try to contain yourselves, please.
There were three age-related grades: Midgets (under 13), Juniors (13-15) and Seniors (16+). We were still in the Midgets that summer, ie just kids. Lots of free time in between required routines meant keeping a close eye on watches. Whenever Wendy, a team member, was asked the time, she would always respond with “ten past two, daylight saving time” which drove me nuts.
“It’s just ten past two!” I would reply tersely. “You don’t have to say ‘daylight saving time’ Wendy. It’s just the time!”
She would shrug it off and do it all again the next time she was asked. She never understood why it irritated me so – and I could never understand why she didn’t realise that the phrase was redundant. Poor old Wendy; stupidity drove me crazy even then. :-)
But daylight saving didn’t start in 1974. A quick check with the Department of Internal Affairs shows that the idea was first mooted in this country in 1895 and raised again in 1909; the second occasion by Sir Thomas Sidney MP, who was in favour of putting clocks forward by an hour during summer to extract the additional daylight. His Member’s Bill was unsuccessful but he was persistent, reintroducing it annually until it was finally passed into law via the Summer Time Act of 1927. Sidney’s assertion that “there will be a saving in the consumption of artificial light” was prophetic. Given the current climate, it’s a wonder he hasn’t been dubbed the Father of the Green movement or some such wetness … but I digress.
There was a year or two of fluffing around with dates, resulting in the extension of a half-hour period to make the New Zealand Summer Time officially 12 hours in advance of GMT. This seasonal adjustment occurred until 1941 when the Summer Time period was extended by emergency regulations to cover the whole year, the change being made permanent in 1946 by the Standard Time Act.
Fast-forward to 1974 when the fun began all over again. Sensibly, the start date was late October when the weather started to warm up and the days lengthen. Stupidly, the end date was early March when the weather was still warm and the days long.
The fluffing around with dates has continued unabated ever since. The nadir occurred a few years ago when daylight saving started so bloody early that parts of the country were still under frost. Even the spring lambs refused to make an appearance and stayed put. And in spite of the seasons having changed over the last decade or so with regard to starting and finishing later, the daylight saving period was still ending prematurely in mid-March.
Peter Dunne and the bureaucrats leapt into action and, who’d have thought it, got it wrong again. Two years ago the government announced that it had extended the daylight saving period from 24 to 27 weeks. In translation, it now means that it sensibly ends in early April, but – stupidly – still starts, too early, in September.
Look, here’s the thing. At this time of year the mornings have just started to lighten when we’re unnecessarily plunged back into darkness for another month; while it’s still too cool to really exploit the longer evenings.
Wouldn’t the logical course of action see Labour Weekend as the obvious start date?
- It occurs at the end of October when the mornings are naturally lighter and the evening temperatures are better akin to outdoor activities (than September).
- The long holiday weekend would give everybody the extra day to deal with the ‘jet lag’.
- Everybody would know from one year to the next when daylight saving was due to start.
- It would bring us into line – near enough, anyway – with the timing of the Australian states that employ it.
Or would that make too much sense?
Unfortunately, when it comes to Peter Dunne and the bureaucrats, I suspect the answer is yes.
* * Read Susan Ryder’s column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *