Wellington Radio ZLW

Wellington Radio ZLW opened on 26 July 1911 as New Zealand’s first wireless telegraph station. It closed after 82 years on 30 September 1993.

In 1909 an Australasian Telegraph Conference was held in Melbourne and this led to a New Zealand Government decision to establish marine radio coast stations in the capital, Wellington, and at Auckland (ZLD) and the Chatham Islands (ZLC).

The first station, a 2.5 kilowatt ‘spark’ transmitter, opened on 26 July 1911 and operated from a tower at the General Post Office in Wellington.

Only three months later, in October 2011, the station was transferred to 301 metre high Mount Etako (also known as Mt Wakefield or Tinakori Hill and since 2009 officially known as Te Ahumairangi Hill) where it provided a wireless telegraph service to ships within a 600 mile radius.

Opening ceremony at the radiotelegraph station on Mt Etako (Tinakori Hill) in Wellington, 1912

Opening ceremony at the radiotelegraph station on Mt Etako (Tinakori Hill) in Wellington, 1912. Photo: Sydney Charles Smith

Wellington Radio ZLW on Tinakori Hill in 1957.

Wellington Radio ZLW on Tinakori Hill in 1957. Evening Post photo

In addition, two high-power stations with a range of 1250 miles were opened in 1913, one at Awanui (ZLA) in the north and the other at Awarua (ZLB) near Bluff.

All of these coast radio stations have now closed.

ZLW Wellington Radio - 30 September 1993

ZLW Wellington Radio – 30 September 1993

Peter Baird at the controls of ZLW Wellington Radio - 30 September 1993

Peter Baird at the controls of ZLW Wellington Radio – 30 September 1993

Audio documentary about ZLW

In July 2011, the Spectrum programme, hosted by Jack Perkins on Radio New Zealand, marked the 100th anniversary of the first transmission from Wellington Radio ZLW:

More ZLW resources

ZLW Remembered, created by former ZLW technician Jamie Pye

Photos of ZLW staff at work

Listen to final transmissions from Wellington Radio ZLW and watch an interview with former operator Peter Baird.

ยป 20th Anniversary of the Closure of Wellington Radio ZLW