By Chris Underwood
Radio Section expansion
By the early 1980s Radio Section was growing too big for the Wellington East Post Office building and several sections moved to Britannic House.
It was here that early planning work for Trunked Dispatch Radio and Cellular Telephone networks was undertaken. Purchasing of new Microwave systems, test equipment and other items for Radio stock was undertaken here as well.
At about the same time a number of radio technicians joined the new Engineering Associates group. These changes started to break up the traditional close ties between the different groups and caused some loss of cohesion.
By the mid 1980s Radio Depots had been established from one end of the country to the other.
Radio Depots were established at Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Taupo, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Wellington, Blenheim, Nelson, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill.
The Nelson Radio Depot was the last to be built in the late 1970s early 1980s. It was purpose-built, unlike most depots which were often housed in old Post Office buildings or rented accommodation.
In all, fourteen Radio Depots were established with a total technical staff, including those at WEPO, Warkworth SES and the HF stations at Himatangi, Makara and Awarua of around 434 Radio Technicians in the mid 1980s.
The staff at Radio Depots, except at the very smallest ones, were normally split into three sections:
1. Trunkline Section focused on microwave, multi-access and country sets, i.e. systems carrying telephone circuits.
2. Land Mobile Section focused on land mobile base stations.
3. General Section looked after everything else, such as installing radios into PSG vehicles, RT mobiles into NZPO Engineering line trucks, vans and other vehicles. This section also repaired faulty lines branch probe amplifiers and maintained, installed and repaired PA systems at line depots. Later. this section also installed and maintained security video cameras and recorders installed in Post Offices.
In 1986 the NZPO was broken up, with the engineering branch becoming Telecom with the exception of the Radio Inspection group which became the Radio Frequency Service (RFS). Telecom was eventually privatised and broken up.
All photos courtesy Chris Underwood
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