New Zealand radio communications

Maritime Radio header

Welcome to, where you’ll find the stories of New Zealand radio communication stations that were originally operated by the Post & Telegraph Department, and later by the New Zealand Post Office and finally by the privatised company Telecom.

These stations provided not just communications with ships but also point-to-point services internationally and to isolated parts of the country.

Although several such stations once operated from around New Zealand, all point-to-point services have now been replaced by satellites and undersea cables. A single radio station, Taupo Maritime Radio ZLM, operated by Maritime NZ serves shipping and small craft from the middle of the North Island, although it is controlled from the capital, Wellington.

One former station, Auckland Radio ZLD, has been preserved by an enthusiastic group of “ham radio” operators, while the former transmitter building at Awarua Radio ZLB became a museum in early 2016. The other stations live on in memories only, and this website aims to enhance those memories in words, photos and recordings.

Some of the material covering Awarua Radio ZLB comes from a website created by the late Alan Gilchrist. When Alan decided that he could no longer maintain his website due to failing health, he kindly allowed me to republish his material here, where I trust it will be available for many years to come.

Alan’s information came largely from Alex Glennie, whose father was an operator and manager at ZLB, so thanks also to Alex for his cooperation and generous assistance with this project (and for the photos at the top of this page – that’s his dad, Charles Alan Glennie, pictured at the microphone).

Many other people have contributed (and continue to contribute) content for this site, which is greatly appreciated, and they are mentioned in the acknowledgments.

This site now includes significant material on the very impressive Himatangi and Makara stations which were operated by the New Zealand Post Office for long-range communication.

The small radio installations at lighthouses were also maintained by the NZPO technical staff and there are some interesting notes and photos showing life at these outposts.

And of course, coast stations would be very lonely places if there were no ships to talk to, so we have the beginnings of a section on ships’ radio rooms and radio officers.

Your feedback – and any contributions of information or photographs – are much appreciated. And of course, please let me know if you spot any errors or omissions.

– Neil Sanderson, Editor and Publisher


I was at ZLC in 1976, 1983 and 85-86 – In regard to the extension to ZLC in the early 80s –

The builder was Tom Brown. He was the local builder. – He built the extension to both the hostel and the radio station in the early 80s –

Toms partner was Polly Brown –

Andrew Peni( Raro) married Tom and Pollys daughter – Andrew was a good friend of Terry Kamana

Tom received the QSM in later years for running the local TV station.

He passed away in 2018

Some of these comments are a bit dated but a few names above I recall from my Radio Depot days including working at ZLW when Valves were still king and the VFET output transmitters just didn’t cut it. I did have a trip to Kiribati for mobile work much later and realized the work the radio operators had done and the sacrifices they made. Great to be a small part of that.

I have just come across this website as well. I’m Peter Banks and worked at Wellington Radio for several years in the 1970s until 1977 when I moved to Auckland.
We had a team of 4 or 5 at time doing maintenance work 5 days a week with call out duties if required after hours. I mainly maintained the Receiving section and each day had to check the clock against the pips from London at 11am. The weights we used then where washers to keep the clock accurate.
When I moved to Auckland I purchased a house in Pakuranga close to Howick where Auckland Radio was based. I also worked there in a few times and also took turns at callout if faults occurred.

Alex C Glennie


Sorry I do not agree. New South Wales did not govern New Zealand in radio regulatory matters.

The answer lies with the International Radio Telegraph Conference held in London in July 1912 which established international callsigns with prefixes allocated to different countries.

At this conference British colonies were allocated callsigns beginning with ‘V’, possibly because that letter could be associated with Queen Victoria. Australia was allocated the block VHA – VKZ and so changed its PO designation to VI for all its coast stations so that POP became VIP and POS became VIS. New Zealand was allocated the code block VLA – VMZ and its coast stations changed to the use of VL prefixes hence VLA – Awanui and VLB – Awarua.

You will see no mention of NSW governing New Zealand radio matters.


When I was researching HF P-P history for my book (see my post on the F/B page) I came across this traffic schedule, in the C&W archive, for the NZPO services in the mid 1950’s:
Services GMT Mod Ch Privacy Transmitter Ant Frequency
London 07–12 ISB 2 5 band 40kW (STC) Array 10235
London FSK 50kW (GE US)Array 10275
Oakland 02-05/15-17 ISB 1 5 band 4kW (STC) Rhombic 9900/15500
Sydney 20 – 12 ISB 1 5 band 4kW 10980
Sydney FSK 1kW 16005
Ships 21-22/00-02/06-08 DSB 1 Inversion

Adalberto Raul Olivera

Many years ago, summer of 1974, I was barely 14 years old, a very hot night I was doing radio in the band of 6 meters (50MHz) with an old RT-68 team from the gerra of Vietnam,
that night it was very good spread and my old team only had 18 watts approximately.
Suddenly I hear a call from a station that is identified as Radio Concurry, I ask him if he listens to me and he answers me in a very clear Spanish language telling me he listens to me loud and clear.
he asks me what a child does on the radio and I answer that I am a radio amateurs from Buenos Aires Argentina, the operator tells me that he is at a coastal radio station in New Zealand Australia,
It was a great joy for me because it was a very distant communication,
My postal address from my country asks me to go to Darcela, after spending almost a year and a half I get the mail with a card and a flag of the Coastal Radio Station.
 Today I am 58 years old and never again communicated with that radio station.
I only remember the card and the pennant which is still hanging in my transmission room.

Greetings from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Adalberto Raul Olivera (LU4DAJ)

Brian Gallagher

What a great interesting site,pure nostalgia which kindles many happy memories.I started my working life as a Post Office Radio tech and spent a good part of that time at ZLW before moving on to work at the then NZBC. In retrospect my time at ZLW was the best job I had,interesting rewarding work with the greatest ever bunch of people.Sad to see that a number of these have passed on.
Thanks for setting up this valuable site.
Would love to hear from those people that I knew and worked with.

As an ex operator at ZLW and ZLC i have really enjoyed finding this site and taking a trip down memory lane. Congrats and thanks to all have made this happen. I particularly enjoyed Clyde Williams articles. I only wish as a young man i had realised what this job would mean to me and taken a few more photos.

I was stationed at ZLC Chatham Islands Radio at the time. ZLB Awarua Radio picked up the Gothic’s (callsign MAUQ ?) on the 8 mHz lifeboat emergency radio frequency; the ZLB operator was the late Dave Dow.

For a while, not knowing that the bridge and radioroom, plus some passenger accommodation, was destroyed by fire, it was thought the Gothic might have headed for Chathams as the nearest point of land. She actually sailed to the mainland, either Lyttelton, or Wellington.

Hi Barry,
Good to see you O.T..,
yes, The New South Wales Govt administered The Dominion of New Zealand Coast Stations until 31 March, 1929. Thereafter the N.Z.Post and Telegraph Dept Had its own radio regulatory body. 73 om

Richard Davies

Came across this book last week. “Invaluable Service” by Desmond Ball, Cliff Lord and Meredith Thatcher. The front cover has a picture of Musick Pt station which is what caught my eye. It details the work of the Coast Radio Stations during WWII in signals interception – also ZLB in intercepting comms from the German Fleet in the Pacific in WWI. A bit technical so it can be a hard read, but worth persevering. Tried to include a photo of the front cover but its beyond my technical competence.

Leave a Reply