Jim produces warm front on weather

Kiwis have a fascination with the weather

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 25/10/2012
Jim Hickey shows off an image in a new book of weather photographs taken by New Zealanders
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ
WINTER WONDERLAND: Jim Hickey shows off an image in a new book of weather photographs taken by New Zealanders. The picture shows Syme Hut on Fantham’s Peak. It was taken by New Plymouth’s Paul O’Dowd.

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Kiwis have a fascination with the weather - not just talking about it, but also taking photos of it, Taranaki weatherman Jim Hickey says.

People from all around the country send their weather pictures into Hickey to show on television when he presents the weather.

Several have been compiled into a new book called New Zealand Weather - Captured through the Lenses of New Zealanders.

Hickey said the book was the idea of New Plymouth photographer Rob Tucker.

"When he hit me with the idea about two years ago I started emailing him pictures," Hickey said.

Logistically, it has been a big exercise for Mr Tucker and his team, because they had to contact all the amateur photographers to get permission to use the pictures, Hickey said.

"I was quite thrilled that every single person agreed to have their picture in there."

Hickey wrote the foreword for the book and a glossary of terms so people could understand the weather terminology.

"And where necessary I thought I'd put some description. There are a disproportionate number of Taranaki pictures," he jokes. "There is a bit of creative licence."

People are hugely interested in the weather and talking about it is intuitive, he said.

"How you going? Not a bad sort of day?"

He has been accused of ruining quite a few weddings and hay crops over the years, but it is good-natured banter.

"If I ever go out for lunch in Auckland, which I do frequently, I make sure I know what's going on for the next couple of days so you have these instant one-off replies. People say, ‘You got it wrong last Thursday week, Jim' and I say, ‘But I got it right the next day'."

Hickey became interested in the weather growing up on a farm and then being involved in surf lifesaving. He reckons the New Zealand culture of spending at lot of time outside contributes to Kiwis' interest in the weather. And New Zealand is such a versatile climatic zone.

"We live in two small islands, uplifted high, right on the fringe of the roaring 40s, westerly wind belt and a wind tunnel in the middle called Cook Strait. And big mountains which create huge differential weather patterns between east and west. There's always something happening."

The New Zealand weather forecast is incredibly accurate, he says. It is right 85 per cent to 88 per cent of the time.

Of course, he is always being reminded of the other times when it is not.

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The book will be launched at Benny's Books, in Devon St on Friday, November 2, at 6pm

- Taranaki Daily News

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