1910 – 1919

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

1911: JK Logan, Superintendent of Lines at the P&T Department, retired. He was replaced on 10 January by Joseph Orchiston who was given the new position of Chief Telegraph Engineer, based at Wellington.

On 31 March, the government signed a contract with the Australasian Wireless Company 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 went on the air from the General Post Office on 26 Jul. The following month, construction began at a much better location on the Tinakori Hills.

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

In Wellington, radio listeners Arthur McClay and Guy Tinney notified authorities of a ship’s SOS which had not been received by Wellington Radio due to a storm having damaged its aerial. Radio listening was illegal at the time, but the young DXers were let off, and the law was changed so that people could apply for a licence to listen to radio.

1913: Awanui Radio was completed on 27 Mar, Chatham Islands Radio opened on 19 Sept, and Awarua Radio and Awanui Radio opened on 18 December. A total of 16 ship radio stations were registered in New Zealand.

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

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

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

1918: Of the 2255 permanent officers from the New Zealand Post & Telegraph Department who served in combatant or communications roles during the War, some 10 per cent (225) had died.

On 31 March, Joseph Orchiston, Chief Telegraph Engineer, retired. He had been with the department since starting as a cadet in 1874. His replacement was Timothy Buckley, Chief Electrician, who, reflecting changes in technology, was named Director of Telephones.

1919: Censorship of wireless messages ended on 3 February. In April, a new Post and Telegraph Act removed 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.