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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



On 31 October 1868 a notice in the New Zealand Gazette announced that New Zealand mean time was to be set at 11 ½ hours ahead of Greenwich time.

At the turn of the century the Hon. Sir Thomas Sidey advocated the extension of summer time daylight hours by putting the clocks forward an hour from September to the following March. He said that this would give greater use of daylight during the summer months, an extra hour in the evening for recreational purposes, and a saving of artificial light. To put his idea into effect he introduced a Bill into the House of Representatives in 1909 and reintroduced it every year until 1929. The Bill nearly became law in 1915 when it passed the House of Representatives after an all-night sitting, but was rejected by the Legislative Council. Again, in 1926, a Bill was passed by the House of Representatives only to be rejected by the Legislative Council. In 1927, however, the passing of the Summer Time Act authorised the advancement of clocks one hour between 6 November 1927 and 4 March 1928. But this Act was operative for one year only, and when the 1928 Act was passed extending the period of summer time from 14 October 1928 to 17 March 1929, the period of advancement was half an hour. This made New Zealand time 12 hours in advance of Greenwich time, and from then onwards the period of clock advancement has been 30 minutes.

The Summer Time Act of 1929 permanently enacted the provision of 30 minutes advance in time from the second Sunday in October to the third Sunday in March of the following year. This was amended by the Summer Time Amendment Act of 1933 which extended the period of summer time from the first Sunday in September to the last Sunday in the following April. The national emergency caused by war confirmed the advantages of Sidey's Summer Time Act when the Daylight Saving Emergency Regulations were brought into force in 1941 and each succeeding year until the Standard Time Act was passed in 1945. The regulations provided for summer time throughout the year, and the confirming Act made New Zealand's standard time 12 hours in advance of Greenwich mean time from 1 January 1946.

The time throughout New Zealand is controlled by the New Zealand Time Service, whose signal clock is being corrected continually by astronomical observations and overseas radio time signals. Time signals, which are of six dots at second intervals, the last being the exact minute, are broadcast regularly throughout the day over the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation's network. The correct time is sent daily at 9 a.m. to the General Post Office and Railways Department for transmission to all telegraph offices in New Zealand and railway stations in the North Island. Further, the clock on the Government Buildings in Wellington is checked daily at 9 a.m. and is usually correct to within 15 seconds.

by John Sidney Gully, M.A., DIP.N.Z.L.S., Assistant Chief Librarian, General Assembly Library, Wellington.


John Sidney Gully, M.A., DIP.N.Z.L.S., Assistant Chief Librarian, General Assembly Library, Wellington.