Our first resupply visit was in April 1950 by the frigate HMNZS Pukaki. There were the usual maintenance people on the ship and they included two PO radio technicians to give the radio station its annual going over. The Senior Technician was Reg Motion and it would have been he who took the photographs below I would think. I can recall there were discussions about the pending use of a radiosonde system for doing the twice daily upper air reports, to replace the rather primitive hydrogen balloon system that we were using, and how the proximity of the aerial system to the sonde launching site might lead to difficulties.
– Clyde Williams
(The captions on the following photos are from handwritten notes on each photo and appear to be part of assessing whether the aerial poles would be moved.)
I think the objective of the April 1950 assessment was to see if the wooden pole antenna ‘farm’ could be shifted east (towards the house); the prevailing winds were from the east for most of the year. This was relevant as the old rubber hydrogen balloons could rise at about 500 ft a minute as the load weight was minimal, and in all but ‘no flight’ winds would be well clear of the antennae during the early part of their ascent. The heavier weight of the new radiosonde equipment might possibly give rise to difficulties.
– Clyde Williams
Bill Porter (pictured in the first photo on this page) had to leave the island on the April supply trip. An X-ray taken before we left Auckland showed a dark area in one of his lungs and MOW(AD) wanted him to return for further examination. We learned later that he was cleared of any “nasties” and it was understood he was to return on the next supply trip. In the event that did not happen; I believe he was injured in a car accident. Our OinC also returned to New Zealand on the April trip; simply saying he was not going to stay any longer. The isolation did affect some people very negatively and he, much older than the rest of us, did find it a bit difficult at times. Vic Morgan became the OinC in addition to his job as the “met” man.
– Clyde Williams
On 27 December 1950, radio operators Tom Scott and Clyde Williams were replaced by Ned Early and Dave Mortenson.1
All the information garnered during a day at the office had to be transmitted to Wellington. This was done by way of daily radio schedules. Whoever was on duty when the scheduled time came would set the equipment up and call Wellington.
We had two Collins 1-kilowatt HF transmitters and a good antenna system. For reception there was a pair of SuperPro receivers. So communications was usually very good.
The Wellington end was the Post and Telegraph international exchange, and when contact was established you asked for whoever it was you wanted and you were patched through using the normal telephone system. We became quite familiar with the international operators as we talked to them several times a day. One in particular was our favourite, I never knew her real name as she was simply known as Blossom. She had a great personality and when she was on duty her cheerfulness was always a tonic.
All expedition members were allowed free phone calls to their families once a week and these were always used up. The only difficulty was getting people used to a simplex radio circuit, which means only one person can talk at a time. The time honoured system of saying “over” when you had finished talking was the only way. It made for rather stilted conversations but people caught on in the end.
– Peter Spinetto’s website [no longer available]
The following TV report, possibly from 2009, shows that a meteorologist’s work had changed little in 60 years:
Sailing to Raoul Island aboard Spirit of Adventure:
In this video can be seen the radio station, the meteorological balloon hut and the D7 crawler tractor running again:
2006: Department of Conservation workers rescued after volcanic eruption on Raoul Island
1 Information from Clyde Williams, September 2016