1968: Wahine storm strikes Himatangi

By George King

The inter-island ferry Wahine sinking in Wellington harbour, 10 April 1968
The inter-island ferry Wahine sinking in Wellington harbour, 10 April 1968. Photo: Evening Post

April 10, 1968 was a day to remember at Himatangi Radio Station. It was the day that the Wahine storm finally hit the transmitting building after causing such havoc in Wellington.

During that morning the continual increase in the wind velocity became a cause for concern among the staff as to what damage could be suffered by the station. Later in the morning we had the answer when the wind increased to the stage where sections of the transmitting hall roofing were ripped away and sent crashing into aerial feeder wires to the north of the building.

The accompanying very heavy rain caused water to enter the large ceiling cavity high above the Marconi Type HS-51 transmitter. The build-up of water in the ceiling demanded urgent action. Several large tarpaulins were obtained on loan from the Shannon Railway Station and erected as a temporary roof cover when it was safe to do so. The volume of water trapped in the ceiling was eventually drained out via deliberately punctured holes into containers clear of any transmitter equipment.

Following repairs to the broken aerial feeder lines, the affected services were restored to their normal transmitting equipment and a private contractor was engaged to replace the damaged sections of the station roofing.