Do not change your clocks: NZ Daylight Saving shift fails due to ‘algorithm error’

Prime minister promises inquiry after so-called #clockup sees New Zealand time today unexpectedly remain exactly 24 hours after it was yesterday

Daylight saving was first introduced in New Zealand in 1927, and while the innovation has faced its detractors over the years, its implementation has gone without a hitch. That all changed in the early hours of this morning, however. The time in New Zealand at 3am was expected to shift to 2am. But it just kept ticking.

“An hour extra tonight – whether you are working or sleeping,” promised Newstalk ZB yesterday. But whether you were working, sleeping, or walking alone in the rain, that extra hour was not forthcoming, after what is being blamed on a “computer error” saw the time roll beyond 3am, rather than “falling back”, as the popular aide memoire has it.

Officials moved quickly to dismiss online speculation that the church had hacked the national time system, a theory fuelled by lobbying from several leading clergy to amend the New Zealand Daylight Time Order 2007 in an effort to forestall a clash with the faith’s celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

Time law

Instead, the error apparently resulted from an algorithm flaw. Procedures put in place during an overhaul of the official time system in 1998, ahead of the Millennium Bug scare, required that the computer code be re-entered every decade.

That was overlooked in 2008 for classified reasons, but when the work was completed earlier this year, a user error saw “April” misspelled as “Arpil”.

In an emailed statement, Haora Karaka of the New Zealand Office for Births, Deaths and Time, said: “Procedures put in place during an overhaul of the official time system in 1998, ahead of the Millennium Bug scare, required that the computer code was re-entered every decade.

“That was overlooked in 2008 for classified reasons, but when the work was completed earlier this year, a user error saw ‘April’ misspelled as ‘Arpil’,” she said in an emailed statement.

Jacinda Ardern said the government would take immediate action to address what several bloggers are already describing as the Labour government’s darkest hour. At least one social media user took to Twitter. “Messing with the time on a day when kiwis can’t even buy booze shows Socialist Cindy’s contempt for freedoms. #clockup” said @LibtardNZ on Twitter.

The prime minister said a working group would be convened to look into the mistake. “Lessons need to be learned,” said Ardern, who is pregnant.

Ardern said the working group would be tasked with a broad-ranging probe, but expressly ruled out shifting the time more than one hour in either direction. The group is expected to report back to Cabinet with its recommendations by mid-August. The return to Daylight Saving time, should it be required, takes place at 2am/3am on September 1.

The controversy emerges as Facebook comes under fire over its own use of internet algorithms.

“Ordinary New Zealanders expect better,” said leader of the opposition Simon Bridges.

“Ed Sheeran,” he added, for the purposes of search engine optimisation.

“Joseph Parker boxing Cardiff.”

Barack Obama was unavailable for comment.

Comments have been closed on this article, which was published on April 1


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