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Weather prejudice blown away

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2014
Fine weather
Fairfax NZ

SUNNY SKIES: This could be a typical Wellington day, says a group which has gone to the trouble of crunching the numbers and believes the city's foul-weather reputation is unfair.

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A group of Wellingtonians wants the prevailing - and in its view deceptive - mythology of the city's weather as always bad corrected.

Keen outdoorsmen Martin Jenkins, Steve Maggs, Nick Sawicki and John Sherborne are on a mission to set the record straight, as their personal experience of the weather differs from its widespread reputation.

Sawicki said that, since becoming an avid walker around the suburbs in his retirement, he had noticed over the years how nice it was most of the time.

"I don't often need to take a raincoat, often a jacket is sufficient."

Sherborne, a civil servant, believes coverage of big storms was mostly to blame.

He finally became "fed up" after an argument with an Auckland friend over which city was sunniest.

"So I starting taking the weather stats out. Some of them were a bit gobsmacked when they first saw the actual numbers."

The group now hopes bringing this data to the public's attention might have the same effect nationwide.

In their spare time, the group members collated 30 years of data from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and took the data to former mayor and current regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde.

"When these guys came to me, I thought: hooray, somebody's finally doing something about it," Wilde said.

Wellington City had the fewest frost days of the five major towns and cities - a grand total of zero, Niwa data showed. It was also the second sunniest out of the five, after Christchurch and above Auckland.

"We're not the best and we're not the worst. We do have the highest wind speed, which we all know, together with New Plymouth.

"But for everything else - sunshine, temperature, rainfall - we're there in the middle of the pack."

Wilde and the rest of the group think a campaign to correct false weather perceptions could have positive effects for immigration, business and tourism.

"Wellington has, in recent years, got a really good reputation for outdoor recreation, and it's really important people understand the weather is not a barrier."

But Maggs, a designer and illustrator of Whitby, stressed their efforts to correct the prevailing reputation did not mean falsely painting Wellington's climate as perfect every day.

"We enjoy the wild weather as well. We see it as part of Wellington's character."

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- The Dominion Post

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