New Plymouth Amateur Radio celebrates 90 years on air

Daniel Vandenberg, secretary of the New Plymouth Amateur Radio Club, is looking forward to the club's 90-year ...
Kris Boult

Daniel Vandenberg, secretary of the New Plymouth Amateur Radio Club, is looking forward to the club's 90-year celebrations this month.

Ninety years is a long time to ride a wave. An airwave that is.

This month a group of amateur radio operators in New Plymouth is getting set to celebrate 90 years of keeping in touch with each other and the community.

The New Plymouth Amateur Radio Club started in 1926 and has evolved to become a vital link in the community, especially in emergencies when it helps police, search and rescue and civil defence when required.

Club secretary Daniel Vandenberg said it was just one of the many roles the club provided.

"We have a group of fully trained operators who are able to help support emergency communications," Vandenberg said.

"We're one of the longest running service clubs in New Zealand."

There were many different aspects to the amateur radio hobby, he said. Some used it to for keeping in touch with others while some clubs have competitions as well.

The 90th anniversary was discovered by accident when Vandenberg was looking back through some of the club's history.

"This seemed like a pretty good reason to have a party.

"We've got a cake organised, you've got to have to have a cake."

The club is celebrating on September 23 from midday-10pm at the The Quality Hotel Plymouth International and will feature a Mobile Rally and a guest speaker.

"Anyone who takes part in the mobile rally will get instructions over ham radio on where to go and what to do," Vandenberg said.

"It will definitely be an interesting day."

 New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters (NZART) national president Stuart Watchman is coming up from Blenheim for the celebrations and will also speak at the birthday bash.

NZART began on August 16, 1926 in Auckland, and the Taranaki branch followed just five weeks later on September 20.

The club now has 47 members, including five females, one of whom, Ngaire Jury, recently received an award as one one of the most active women on radio. Vandenberg said  club numbers were on the increase, largely in part due to a new format the club has implemented.

"We've had a few young ones join up, we're trying to make the club more user friendly by having less meetings and more activities," Vandenberg said.

 - Stuff

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