In 1911, schoolboy Arthur McClay waited until after dark to use his wireless telegraphy receiving set to listen to morse code messages between ships and the country’s first marine coast radio station. Back then, it was illegal for members of the public to own receiving or transmission sets.
In reminiscences he recorded on cassette in 1983, aged 85, McClay recalls how he was introduced to the new technology by electrician Brian Robinson, who he had spied hauling a reception aerial up a tree. Guy Tinney, a morse code landline telegraphist for the General Post Office moved in next door, and the trio became pioneer wireless telegraphy listeners in Wellington. McClay also talks about his role in the early 1920s at 2YK, the forerunner of Wellington public radio broadcast station 2YA.
An exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of marine coast radio stations runs until July 31 at the Auckland Art Gallery. It features radios made by Weta Workshop following Radio New Zealand’s Sounds Like Us competition.
Jo Birks, Special Collections
McClay, Arthur James Herbert, 1897-1984. Papers and taped reminiscences [sound recording]. 1911-1983.
MSS & Archives A-274, Special Collections, University of Auckland Library.