OPINION: Daylight saving starts on Sunday.
Many people will be attending evening barbecues, taking brisk after-work walks, jogging or generally doing a spot of after-hours communing with nature.
No you won’t. Not if the weather’s true to its usual form for this time of year. And it’s worse the further south you go.
A few years ago, I was in Bluff the week we put our clocks forward. There, I experienced a bout of driving rain so cold, I counted myself lucky to still vaguely feel my face. Not exactly conducive to throwing a prawn on the barbie.
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But it’s not just a problem for those in the deep south.
Since 2007, we seem to have added to this problem by extending daylight saving by three weeks.
It’s like a boy, who thinks he liked the first three pieces of cake so much that, if he had another, he’d feel even better.
Instead, his digestive system grinds to a halt; a situation only relieved by a liberal dose of syrup of figs.
A not very scientific poll of friends, relatives and workmates, suggests many find the changeover a tad wearying; feeling a bit out of sorts for at least the first week after the change, and the change back.
Others feel the stationary jet-lag for longer.
In 2018, the European Union’s very scientific poll concluded that a majority of continentals were sick of the changeover; warranting ending the ridiculous process.
EU researchers also cited increased accident rates and, “a small but perceptible increase in deaths,” due to increased rates of strokes, heart-attacks and accidents.
A small increase, it’s true. But if you’d asked them in advance, that small but perceptible group of ex-Europeans would probably have put in a strong word to keep time as God intended.
I’m betting there’s a small but perceptible group of ex-Kiwis who’d agree with them.
European daylight saving was scheduled to end in 2021, but due to Covid and miles of Eurocratic red tape, it’s been put on the back-burner, perhaps permanently.
But there’s no reason why we can’t beat them to it, or at least ditch the extra three weeks.
The improvement conferred by the extension is marginal at best.
It makes for cold, dark morning starts for dairy farmers, builders and factory workers, who don’t have the option of strolling into the office at 8.30am.
That problem is countrywide, but becomes more marked the further south you go.
In high summer, the time shift starts to become mildly annoying for Christchurch early risers and bed goers, like me, but it’s horrendous for those south of the Waitaki.
Another factor northerners don’t consider is the long southern summer twilights. When the sun goes down in Auckland, it’s like God draws a blind – Bam! It’s dark; end of story.
In the summery south, the almighty slowly turns the dimmer knob. Twilight lasts for ages.
Six years ago, Invercargill’s council rightly got into trouble for shelling out a fortune on new Christmas lights. They needn’t have bothered.
Most littlies won’t get to see them on, barring popping some No Doz into their vanilla rice.
Trying to get kids to sleep when the sun is still about is an ordeal which would make the pope swear, especially around the longest day, which, by some sick cosmic joke, occurs just before Christmas.
“It’s not dark yet! I’m waiting for Santa.”
In contrast to Invercargill, Auckland’s longest day ends an hour earlier. That’s a very civilised hour – almost perfect, in fact, for Aucklanders to take gentle slumber – free of the need for blackout curtains or eyeshades.
Because of the huge north/south population imbalance, the tyranny of the majority dictates that nothing will change.
A 2008 government survey showed that a majority of Kiwis were in favour of keeping daylight saving as is.
Even before daylight saving was adopted in 1974, we were already a half an hour ahead of where we should be.
In the dark days of World War II, a half hour’s daylight saving, introduced in the 1920s for summer, was made all year round.
This was supposed to be temporary, but wasn’t.
It can’t have done much to save power (which was its alleged benefit).
So the summer sun is not at its zenith (highest point) here until about 1.30pm, rather than at noon.
This is out of whack by international standards.
It’s not as bad as China and India, which have only one time zone for their vast landmasses. However, neither government is silly enough to subject their people to half-yearly bouts of time jiggery-pokery.
I accept that binning time tampering completely is probably a non-starter, but the three-week extension makes no sense. We just don’t have the weather to warrant summer when it’s not summery – much as we’d like it to be.
Let’s stop this failed attempt at climatic wish fulfilment and shave off the first three weeks of daylight saving. That way, at least for a wee while, farmers, builders, industrial workers (North and South), the dog and I can have a glimmer of sunlight in the morning.