Daylight saving to be extended three weeks

New Zealanders will soon be able to enjoy more summer days.

The Government has decided to extend daylight saving another three weeks, to a 27-week period.

Clocks will go forward an hour a week earlier than usual -- on the last Sunday in September -- and will go back an hour on the first Sunday of April, instead of the third Sunday in March.

Cabinet's move follows a petition, launched by United Future leader Peter Dunne and Nelson city councillor Mark Holmes, calling for an extension to daylight saving. That petition was signed by around 42,000 people.

Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker said he had received correspondence from many people supporting an extension.

In the past daylight saving has been opposed by farmers because of the impact it had on their operations but Mr Barker also said he had received a letter from Federated Farmers saying it supported changes to daylight saving.

Since 1990, New Zealand has had 24 weeks of daylight saving in addition to the half hour of standard daylight savings since 1941, Mr Barker said.

He said the earlier start would avoid a clash with the start of the fourth school term which had caused disruptions for schools and families in the past.

The United States moved to start daylight saving earlier this year in a bid to save electricity, extending its daylight saving period to about 34 weeks.

Mr Barker said the Government would monitor the effect of New Zealand's extended period of daylight saving on parts of the economy, including the energy sector, to see if there were long term sustainable benefits.

A United States study of Australia released last month found prolonged daylight saving time saw electricity use cut in the evenings although this was more than offset by increased usage in the mornings.

However, Mr Barker said daylight saving had the potential to help with energy savings.

He said his officials would monitor research around the world to see what benefits other countries were finding from changes to daylight saving.

The Department of Internal Affairs would work with computer companies and industries updating operating systems to incorporate the time changes before the start of daylight saving.

"For New Zealand this year, summer will start one week early, will finish weeks later and I think it's up to the weatherman to determine how good it is," Mr Barker said.

Daylight saving will start at 2am on September 30 and end at 3am on April 6, 2008.

- NZPA

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