1991: Awarua Radio closes

Awarua Radio ZLB closed on 30 August 1991 after almost 78 years of service to mariners.

Final night at ZLB. L-R: Bert McKechnie, Joe Collett, Ellie Ellenden, Ossie Osborne. Paul Dennison

Final night at ZLB. L-R: Bert McKechnie, Joe Collett, Ellie Ellenden, Ossie Osborne. Paul Dennison. Courtesy family of E Ellenden

Mike Evertzen, a radio operator who worked at ZLB during the station’s final decade, recalls:

I was the RO who keyed cw to the last ships at Awarua over HF before we handed over the Himitangi transmitters to ZLW. This was significant for me as there would have been an RO back in 1913 who made the very first HF contact with a ship from ZLB and it was poignant for me to be the last ZLB RO to use a morse key to a ship from ZLB.

I remember running the traffic list at 10am and queuing up 5 or 6 ships with traffic and then handing over the transmitters to Wellington to take the traffic off the ships. That was the last time morse was ever keyed across 4, 6, 8, 12, 16 & 22MHz from a ZLB morse key.

Lester Price, the Manager of ZLB when it was closed, did the final broadcast on 500kHz on the last night. It wasn’t recorded but it was a very short message advising that ZLB was closing, and finished with a well emphasised …-.- (VA).

Final night at ZLB. L-R: Bert McKechnie, Joe Collett, Ellie Ellenden

Final night at ZLB. L-R: Bert McKechnie, Joe Collett, Ellie Ellenden. Courtesy family of E Ellenden

Final night in the receiving office at Awarua Radio ZLB

Final night in the receiving office at Awarua Radio ZLB. Courtesy family of E Ellenden

Final night at ZLB, 1991. L-R : Maureen Collett, Thelma Pawley, Maree Osborne

Final night at ZLB, 1991. L-R : Maureen Collett, Thelma Pawley, Maree Osborne. Courtesy: Family of E Ellenden

Final night at ZLB, 1991. L-R : Thelma Pawley and Maree Osbourne. Rear :  Lester Price

Final night at ZLB, 1991. L-R : Thelma Pawley and Maree Osborne. Rear : Lester Price. Courtesy: Family of E Ellenden

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