Radio Section, part 7: 1950–1955

By Chris Underwood

With demand for ever-improved communications at the dawn of the 1950s, the New Zealand Post Office’s Radio Section entered into a period of sustained growth and activity.

New multi-channel radio links were planned and built around the country – mostly Marconi 48-channel links of one or two hops. Microwave systems were studied and evaluated, and early planning to significantly increase the number of long distance telephone circuits available was undertaken.

More Land Mobile base stations were planned and built. Initial planning and gaining financial provision in the New Zealand Post Office engineering budget was organised by Radio Section staff, although actual construction of the stations was now largely undertaken by staff from district Radio Depots.

Construction of Himatangi Radio

Himatangi Radio
Himatangi Radio

To cater for increased demand for international communications, a major new high frequency transmitting station at Himatangi, 120km north of Wellington, was planned. In August 1951 a ceremony for laying a Foundation Stone for the transmitting hall was held. Work continued for the next 2 years in building this large station. Installation of the extensive antenna systems was also a major undertaking.

Snigging a 70ft pole into position at Himatangi
Snigging a 70ft pole into position at Himatangi
Preparing a 70ft pole for erection at Himatangi
Preparing a 70ft pole for erection at Himatangi
Erecting a 70ft pole at Himatangi
Erecting a 70ft pole at Himatangi
Quadrant antenna at Himatangi
Quadrant antenna at Himatangi
Erecting a tower at Himatangi
Erecting a tower at Himatangi
Erecting a tower at Himatangi
Erecting a tower at Himatangi
Rigging crew at Himatangi
Rigging crew at Himatangi
Tower and poles at Himatangi
Tower and poles at Himatangi
Antennas at Himatangi
Antennas at Himatangi

A main control console was constructed in the Wellington East Post Office 4th floor radio workshop for the new station.

Control console for Himatangi Radio under construction
Control console for Himatangi Radio under construction
Control console for Himatangi Radio under construction
Control console for Himatangi Radio under construction
Control console for Himatangi Radio under construction
Control console for Himatangi Radio under construction
Completed control console for Himatangi Radio
Completed control console for Himatangi Radio
 

Colonial Knob repeater and Land Mobile station

Colonial Knob repeater and land mobile station
Colonial Knob repeater and land mobile station

A new Marconi 48-channel link was installed to extend the control and signal circuits from Wellington to Himatangi. This necessitated the building of a new repeater station at Colonial Knob.

There was no room for two Rhombic antennas on the site, so high-gain Yagi antennas were also used. In the photo above the antenna arrays close to the building are pointing south to Wellington. What looks to be the end of a north facing Rhombic can be seen on the two poles in the foreground. (Having said that, although I regularly visited Colonial Knob in the mid 1960s, I don’t remember any Rhombic antennas there, but at the time I was focused on land mobile and likely didn’t pay any attention to aerials other than the LM dipoles.)

Himatangi went live in 1953, and considerably improved communications from NZ to other parts of the world.

More about Himatangi Radio

All photos courtesy Chris Underwood (except where noted).


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