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150th Anniversary of NZ Standard Time

Up until 150 years ago, each New Zealand region had its own, different time zone. It wasn’t until the arrival of the telegraph and the steam train network that the need arose for accurate regional and national timekeeping.

In 1866, the first cable across Cook Strait was laid and regions between Napier and Bluff became connected by telegraph. Variations in operating hours at the relaying and receiving offices along the line initially hinder the smooth transmission of messages. So, in 1868 the Telegraph Department proclaimed that all offices had to adopt Wellington time.

This move lead to a parliamentary decree establishing a single time for the whole country – the first implementation of standard time in the world, which came into effect on November 2, 1868.

Today, the Measurement Standards Laboratory (MSL) at Callaghan Innovation is responsible for maintaining Official New Zealand Time. 

To commemorate the 150th anniversary, MSL is partnering with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the National Library to deliver a free public event at the National Library in Wellington.

Join historian Gerard Morris as he takes you through the history of the adoption of New Zealand Standard Time. Also hear from Dr Bruce Warrington, Chief Metrologist and CEO of the National Measurement Institute, Australia, who will detail the science behind standard time and the technological innovations such as GPS it enables.

This is an open event for anyone with an interest in time, its history, and significance in today's society and the future, to attend this event.

Places are limited so register your attendance today.


Gerard Morris is a faculty member at Ara Institute in Christchurch and teaches Cultural Studies. He has been a researcher for 40 years and is a member of the Professional Historians Association of New Zealand Aotearoa. His 2012 Masters’ Thesis is titled ‘Time and the Making of New Zealand’.

Dr Bruce Warrington, Chief Metrologist and CEO of the National Measurement Institute, Australia, a counterpart to and partner of NZ’s Measurement Standards Laboratory. A graduate of the University of Otago, he completed a PhD at Oxford University in atomic physics research and worked with CSIRO in Sydney on the development of atomic clocks.