A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David C
Date: 2017 Jan 9, 00:28 -0800
Here is the text of an email that I have just received. It is a relief to know that I was listening for the seven pips at the correct time. It does make me wonder if, in this age of NTP, public radio time pips are a historical oddity, not to be taken too seriously.
Hi and thank you for your enquiry,
My name is xxxxx yyyyyy, and I am the scientist at Callaghan Innovation's Measurement Standards Laboratory responsible for maintaining and disseminating New Zealand's time standard - aka NZ's Time Lord - and you are correct, there were only 6 'pips' instead of 7 at 1pm on 1 January 2017 (December 31 23:59:60 UTC).
Unfortunately, although the atomic clocks on which NZ time is based correctly processed the leap second on January 1, there was a fault with the system that generates and sends the 'pips' to Radio New Zealand - despite its operating correctly during testing in December when it produced 7 lovely 'pips' (offline, of course).
Although it was disappointing not to hear the '7 pips' indicating a leap second on January 1, and despite being in a remote area with very limited connectivity, I can assure you that I - and my colleagues who went in to resolve the issue - made the utmost effort to ensure that the 'pips' on Radio NZ were back 'on time' as soon as possible.
Leap seconds occur every 18 months or so due to the difference between the rate of earth's rotation and the 'Atomic Time' on which NZ's (and world) time is based. Since 1972 when they were introduced leap seconds (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_second) have only occurred on Jun 30 or Dec 31 (UTC). So, assuming there is still a Radio NZ broadcasting 'pips' then - and that the leap second hasn't been abolished, you'll hopefully get to hear the unusual sound of an extra 'pip' eventually.