The Awanui Wireless Station was activated on 27 March 1913. The Post & Telegraph Department sent John L Davies to Sydney (presumably the Pennant Hills station which was very similar to Awanui) to participate in the Awanui tests during March and April.
Staff were housed in three buildings: the superintendent’s house, the operators’ quarters and the engineer’s house.
Bill Walker was the Assistant Engineer.
Service was provided to ships as well as point-to-point communication with Apia.
During the First World War, a military guard of 65 men under Captain Proctor of Whangarei was posted at the station, and a high barbed wire fence was erected around it.
1915: Auckland wireless station suspended operation, as the much higher-power Awanui station offered superior performance.
From Bill Walker’s audio interview recorded in 1962:
- Surrounding the tower was a counterpoise ring, connected by 60 wires
- The tower faces were 8 feet wide
- The tower height was 400 feet “near enough”
- 24 aerials led from “practically” the top of the tower about 1/4 mile to posts in the field surrounding the tower
- The main working, on 2000 metre wavelength, was to Samoa
- There were smaller aerials for other wavelengths: 600 metres (ships), 1200 metres (navy – not used much), 300 metres (“never used”)
- The aerial wires were phosphor-bronze, about the size of Number 8 fencing wire
- The high-tension room included helixes, repeaters (keying relays
- At full power, the transmitter used 30-35kW, which was necessary to reach Sydney during daytime (only half as much power was needed at night)
- For ships service, the transmitter typically used 10-12kW
1916: Assistant Engineer Bill Walker left for military service. His replacement was Mr B Winstanley from the Auckland Post & Telegraph workshop.
1917: In December, John L Davies, previously Officer in Charge at Awarua Wireless Station, became Officer in Charge at Awanui, replacing LW (Pat) Bourke, who became Superintendent of Telegraphs at Napier.
1918: John L Davies left in August to return to Apia with the Samoa Reinforcements. Assistant Engineer Bill Walker returned from war.
1919: John L Davies returned as Officer in Charge.