The Awarua Communications Museum officially opened its doors to the public on 27 January 2016. At a well-attended function His Worship the Mayor of Invercargill, Tim Shadbolt addressed attendees then formally cut a ribbon to declare the museum open.
Two senior museum members then cut a cake that highlighted the origins of the museum's location, the heritage site of Awarua Radio Station, ZLB halfway between Invercargill and Bluff. The cake was decorated with an image of bowler-hatted gentlemen gathered at the foot of Awarua's 400-foot tall spark-transmitter mast at the station's opening in 1913.
The cake-cutters were Marie Osborne and John Jones who both had long associations with Awarua Radio. Marie's family had lived locally to Awarua and her husband Henry Osborne had worked as a Radio Technician on the site since 1945. John Jones is the last remaining member from 'The Cape Expedition' a cover name for the secret wartime role of deploying coastwatchers to the sub-Antarctic islands. John served as radio operator on the Auckland Islands communicating with Awarua Radio. At the conclusion of his coastwatcher service he worked at Awarua Radio where he played another key wartime role as a Direction Finding operator.
The Awarua Communications Museum records New Zealand and regional communications heritage, including telegraph, telephone, radio and cable technologies and history. It places a strong emphasis on its educational role, including having hands-on exhibits for children to work with early morse and telephone equipment. The museum's 30-seat picture palace 'The Regal' has a Victorian-era flavour and its collection of heritage film allows the museum to provide tailored presentations to organised groups. The museum website provides further depth of knowledge for educators through its detailed records of New Zealand's communications heritage.
Awarua Communications museum is open to the public on Sundays between 11AM and 3PM, or to groups by appointment.
The Southland Times -, 27 January 2016