Awanui Radio

Awanui Radio was a Government (NZ Post & Telegraph Department) wireless telegraph station, located at Awanui, about 8km north of Kaitaia on the North Island of New Zealand. It was sometimes referred to as the Kaitaia or Doubtless Bay wireless station.

Opened: Awanui Radio officially opened on 18 December 1913, although this newspaper report indicates the station was already in operation on 27 March 1913.

Closed: 10 February 1930

The station was located at -35.083300, 173.241287, or what is now known as 132 Wireless Rd, approximately 4.5km NNW of Kaitaia.

NZA until 5 July 1912
VLA until 31 December 1928
ZLA until 10 February 1930 (closure)

Awanui Radio was virtually identical to Awarua Radio and the two stations officially opened on the same day.

They were each built on a 100-acre site selected by engineers from the contractor (Telefunken) and used a spark gap transmitter rated at 30kW input (15kW output in the aerial) and a massive umbrella aerial supported by a 394 ft tower.

These two high-power stations complemented the lower power (5kW input, 2.5kW output) Telefunken stations at Auckland, Wellington, the Chatham Islands, and on the Government steamship Tutanekai. A fifth low-power set was purchased as a spare. (There may also have been one installed at Rarotonga.)

(For more on the early days of Awarua and Awanui Radio, see When spark was king.)

Although Awanui Radio closed in 1930 (the end of the spark era), a new marine HF communications station, also known as Awanui Radio ZLA, was established on the same Wireless Road site in 1995 by Globe Wireless (since acquired by Inmarsat).

» Photos of the original Awanui station under construction

Awanui Radio VLA, circa 1919
Awanui Radio VLA, circa 1919. Photo: Northwood Brothers

The station callsign changed to ZLA in 1927, and the station closed on 10 February 1930 after only 17 years in operation.

The following photos are courtesy Mark Robinson ZL2TOD and came from his grandfather, photographer Fred Robinson. If you can provide any information about them, please get in touch.

A post card, apparently showing part of the spark wireless apparatus at Awanui, date unknown. The bank of spark gaps can be seen in the foreground, with Leyden jars behind them.
Reverse side of the above post card, the handwriting reads 'VLA Radio Awanui'
Reverse side of the above post card. The handwriting reads ‘VLA Radio Awanui’ and the printed information includes the German ‘Postkarte’ (Awanui Radio was built by the German company Telefunken).
Johnston's 'flash wiring' (see note below from the back of this photo)
It is not yet known whether this photo of Johnston’s ‘flash wiring’ (see note below from the back of this photo) was taken at Awanui.
The reverse side of the above photo
The reverse side of the above photo
Another photo from Fred Robinson, although it is not know for certain whether this was taken at Awanui
Another photo from Fred Robinson, although it is not known for certain whether this was taken at Awanui

» Awanui Radio through the years

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