1910 – 1919

1910: In July, wireless becomes compulsory on large New Zealand ships. Contracts let for New Zealand’s two high-power stations and four low-power stations (Wellington added to the list).

1911: On 31 March, the government signs a contract with the Australasian Wireless Company (AWC) of New South Wales for the supply of Telefunken wireless equipment at a cost of £23,730, choosing Telefunken over rival bidders Marconi and Lepel. The Marconi proposal, in addition to being more expensive, required 200hp to operate between Australia and New Zealand whereas Telefunken required only 70hp, which meant lower operating costs as well.1

Wellington Radio goes on the air from the General Post Office on 26 Jul. The following month, construction begins at a much better location on the Tinakori Hills.

1912: In June, wireless is installed on the Government’s ship Tutanekai. In August, Sydney Radio goes on the air from Pennant Hills. On 14 October, Wellington Radio NZW is officially opened. On 24 October, Auckland Radio goes on the air from the Chief Post Office.

1913: Awanui Radio is completed on 27 Mar, Chatham Islands Radio opens on 19 Sept, and Awarua Radio and Awanui Radio open on 18 Dec. A total of 16 ship radio stations are registered in New Zealand.

1914: On 3 Aug the Post & Telegraph Department begins censoring mail and telecommunications; representatives of the Censor’s Office are placed at cable and coast radio stations. In late August, P&T wireless staff with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force restore Apia Radio, which had been sabotaged by its German staff. On 23 Sep, P&T staff at Fanning Island restore cable service with Suva following a German attack. On 6 Nov they restore the Fanning-Vancouver connection.

1915: On 19 March, T Buckley of the NZ Post & Telegraph Department writes a letter of enquiry to the De Forest Radio Telephone & Telegraph Company in the USA. On 29 April, FM Williamson of De Forest replies with information about, and photographs of, De Forest radio equipment.

1916: In April, 62 P&T men reach Basra as part of the First Australian and New Zealand Wireless Signal Squadron. The Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant Harry Clark dies of jaundice on 8 Jul.

1918: Of the 2,255 permanent officers from the New Zealand Post & Telegraph Department who served in combatant or communications roles during the War, some 10 per cent (225) have died.

1919: Censorship of wireless messages ends on 3 Feb. In April, a new Post and Telegraph Act removes the Department from the jurisdiction of the Public Service Act of 1912, giving the Department greater freedom in managing its staff.

» 1920 – 1929


1 Wilson, A.C. (1994). Wire and wireless: A history of telecommunications in New Zealand 1890-1987, (p 95), Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.