Dust off your barbecue and dig out new batteries for your smoke alarm – Sunday marks the start of Daylight Saving, signalling summer is on its way.
Clocks will go forward an hour at 2am, to become 3am.
The extra hour of sunlight is either welcomed with open arms as an assurance warmer weather is on the way, or the cause of headaches for shift workers, dairy farmers and parents of young children.
But where did it come from? How long has it been running? And why do we check our smoke alarms?
Why do we do it, and where did it come from?
Much like L&P, Pineapple Lumps and the humble pavlova, daylight saving is Kiwi in origin.
British-born New Zealand entomologist George Hudson is credited with the idea of modern-day daylight saving time.
In 1985, he proposed a two-hour time shift to the Royal Society of New Zealand so he would have more after-work hours of sunshine to go bug hunting in the summer.
At first, he was mocked. His idea was deemed confusing and unnecessary.
But over time, the concept was adopted by many countries around the world, including New Zealand in 1927.
It’s not universally observed – much of Europe and North America follows daylight saving, while most countries in Asia and Africa do not.
Turning time back (and forward)
New Zealand has tinkered with time twice, first introducing daylight saving in 1927 to give people more daylight for after-work activities.
The dates and times changed several times over the following years.
In 1941, New Zealand “summer time” (12 hours ahead of GMT), as it was known, was extended by emergency regulations to cover the whole year, before effectively being discontinued in 1946.
Daylight saving was trialled again in 1974 and introduced in 1975.
In 2006, following public debate and a petition presented to parliament, the period of daylight saving was extended to its current dates – from the last Sunday in September to the first Sunday in April.
The country uniformly turns its clocks forward or back at the same time, except for the Chatham Islands – a New Zealand territory about 800 kilometres east of the South Island.
There, they don’t play by the same rules.
They observe Chatham Island Standard Time, which is 45 minutes ahead of NZST, meaning Chatham Islanders put their clocks forward at 2.45am.
What about the cows?
It’s not just humans who are impacted by the changing time.
Dairy cattle, like us, are “creatures of habit”, Federated Farmers board member and former national dairy chairman Chris Lewis said.
Every day, cows plod to the milking shed at the same time, only to have daylight saving throw their body clocks slightly off-kilter, Lewis said.
While it can be a finicky couple of weeks for dairy farmers – who often need to rouse their sleeping cows – the cows typically adjust quite quickly, he said.
“I love getting the extra sunlight, and watching my kids play sport in the afternoons.
“You lump it, and move on,” he said.
Sounding the sirens and testing smoke alarms
As if adjusting to losing an hours’ sleep wasn’t hard enough, parts of the country have been advised not to be alarmed when tsunami sirens blare at noon on Sunday.
The region’s twice-yearly tsunami siren test is scheduled to run in parts of Northland, Auckland and Christchurch.
The test will be three sets of tones, each signalling a specific action people are advised to take in a real emergency.
Kiwis are also advised to check their emergency plans, survival kits and smoke alarms in line with daylight saving.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand wants people to check their smoke alarms’ expiration dates and batteries when our clocks go forward one hour on Sunday.
Auckland Emergency Management (AEM) principal science advisor Angela Doherty said daylight saving is an “easy to remember date, and serves as a good reminder for everyone to check their smoke alarm batteries”.
Equally, AEM is using the opportunity to fully test its tsunami sirens to ensure they’re working and remind communities what they sound like, Doherty said.