1913: Chathams wireless station to open in August

New Zealand Herald, 20 June 1913, p8

GROWTH Of WIRELESS
STATION AT THE CHATHAM ISLANDS.
TO BE READY IN AUGUST.
SYSTEM’S LIMITATIONS.

[BY TELEGRAPH. – OWN CORRESPONDENT.]

Wellington, Thursday.

Structural work has been practically completed at the new wireless station at the Chatham Islands, but the motor generator, an essential portion of the apparatus, will only come to hand by the Makarini, which is due to arrive from London on July 13. It will be sent down to the Chathams by the first steamer after that date. About a month will then be required to complete the installation of the equipment, so that the station should be in a position to send and receive messages by about the end of August. Two wireless operators are to be stationed permanently at the Chathams, and there will be a standing arrangement under which the station will get into touch with New Zealand once every hour. The post office at the Chathams is to be connected with the wireless station by telephone, and residents will be permitted to connect up their houses by private telephone wires in much the same way as settlers do in many backblock districts in the Dominion.

With the completion of the Chathams station New Zealand will have four wireless installations on land. The high power stations at Awanui and the Bluff are still going through their official tests. The Chatham Islands station, like that at Wellington, is a low-power one. There is also a low-power station on the Government steamer Tutanekai, and it is intended eventually to similarly equip the Hinemoa, but the latter vessel has not yet been provided with the special engines required to generate power for the wireless apparatus.

Negotiations have been in progress between Nev Zealand and Australia for some time with a view to arriving at an understanding regarding the transmission of commercial messages by wireless, but it is considered doubtful whether any definite arrangements of the kind can be made. Although messages can frequently be transmitted by wireless over enormous distances with the utmost facility, it is very far from being as reliable a means of communication as the submarine cable. The station that can send messages at ordinary times over thousands of miles will on other occasions fail to transmit them over a fraction of that distance. Sometimes communications are interrupted in one direction though they can be freely maintained in other directions. This was exemplified the other day when the steamer Niwaru failed for some time to get into touch with Wellington.

So long as storms and atmospheric disturbances of various kinds continue to occur, “wireless,” as it is now understood, will be liable to interruption. Experts agree in insisting that ” wireless*’ is not to be judged by commercial standards. Like the lighthouse, the system is of supreme importance, but it is not at all likely to develop into a revenue-producing agency.