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With daylight saving time starting up again in New Zealand on Sunday, I thought I would post an excerpt from my book, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy. It’s the first six paragraphs of the chapter on New Zealand, ‘The long road to daylight saving across the ditch’. . . .
“Just as people in Europe and North America talk about “across the pond” to mean the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, “across the ditch” refers to the other side of the Tasman Sea which separates Australia and New Zealand. The country or dominion of New Zealand was the first to officially adopt standard time, in 1868, and was at the forefront of daylight saving with George Vernon Hudson the first person known to advocate it, in 1895. Legislating for it would take longer. Politician Thomas Kay Sidey pursued with daylight saving bills for nearly two decades before New Zealand finally put its clocks forward in summer.
Benjamin Franklin of the United States is credited with sparking the idea of daylight saving and William Willett of the United Kingdom is regarded as the father of the scheme, but New Zealand postal clerk, entomologist and astronomer George Hudson was the first to propose it. On 15 October 1895, he presented a paper, “On seasonal time-adjustment in countries south of lat. 30°”, to the Wellington Philosophical Society. He suggested a two hour change in clock time between 1 October and 1 March. Standard time in New Zealand was then GMT+11:30, half an hour earlier than now.
Many of the benefits Hudson described of advancing the clocks were broadly similar to those used later by Willett and others, as were some of the concerns he addressed. He pointed out that “the early-morning daylight would be utilised, and a long period of daylight leisure would be made available in the evening for cricket, gardening, cycling, or any other outdoor pursuit desired”. Instead of getting up around 7 a.m. and retiring at 11 p.m., his idea was that people would rise at the equivalent of 5 a.m. and go to bed at about 9 p.m., saving two hours of artificial light. But the proposal was met with similar negativity and ridicule often experienced later by Willett. Society members called the idea unscientific and impracticable and the paper wasn’t published in the society’s journal.
Encouraged by positive comments from Christchurch though, where 1,000 copies of his paper were printed and circulated in 1896, Hudson followed this paper with an update, “On seasonal time”, which he delivered to the society on 18 October 1898. He reiterated the main thrust of his argument and then expanded on the benefits of daylight saving and addressed the potential problems.
He felt it was easier to alter the clocks, and to do this in the middle of the night, rather than to expect people to change their hours in the summer months as the measure would involve different work and meal times, adjusting transport timetables and changing business opening hours. Hudson was aware of employees’ concerns that shopkeepers and others might make them work longer, but he said there was legislation already dealing with working hours. He knew that milkmen and people in certain other occupations would have to get up even earlier by clock time but that they were a small minority. He thought the disadvantage to electricity and gas companies would be more than offset by community savings on power. And he knew that theatres and concert halls would suffer as many people would remain outdoors.
But he was sure that the benefits of better health and happiness brought about by extra time spent outside by working people and school children would outweigh any of the alleged drawbacks of turning the clock hands forward in the summer months. He didn’t use the term daylight saving but used “seasonal time” which is perhaps a more accurate description. Unlike Willett, Hudson didn’t seem to pursue with his interest in seasonal time and nor did anyone else in New Zealand as far as we know, including in parliament.” (Or not until a little later.)
 George Hudson, “On seasonal time”, Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand, vol. 31, 1898, pp. 577-583, Royal Society of New Zealand, National Library of New Zealand, at http://rsnz.natlib.govt.nz/volume/rsnz_31/rsnz_31_00_008570.html
The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy can be obtained from Amazon, Kobo Books, Apple iTunes or Google.
NZ: as per US
Australia: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=kpmbDgAAQBAJ&dq and click on Angus & Robertson
Or check out other articles and excerpts on daylight saving time at the Daylight saving time book category on this site.