How Radio Hauraki Really Got Its Name

Painting the name on the Tiri II © John Monks

Jan Earwaker

I remember it well – that Friday night in 1965. I had been working late and my (then) fiancé Chris Parkinson, and our good friend Derek Lowe, had been chatting over dinner at the well-known Auckland restaurant, El Matador. They arrived to pick me up, both very excited with a decision which they had come to – “We have decided to start a Pirate Station – what do you think?” they asked. I was definitely all for it as a great many hours had been spent talking about such an idea in the little office I worked in at Mascot-Viking Recording Studios. Actors, Radio Announcers and Technicians alike had thrown ideas around about how we could get the music played on air that we wanted to hear instead of the dull music and presentation which had been served up by government controlled radio stations for years.

We headed off to Derek’s flat in Mt. Eden where we chatted into the wee small hours re-hashing some of the ideas which had previously been discussed. We finally settled on one – to sail a Chinese Junk into a position just outside of the territorial waters of New Zealand – here we would set up the boat with a transmitter and studio and take New Zealand by storm. Radio the way it should sound – exciting, enthusiastic and playing the music we wanted to hear!

Top of the Dial on the Tiri II © John Monks

It all sounded so easy. I kept the coffee coming as Derek and Chris went over the finer details. Derek had a nautical map so this was laid out and we pin-pointed the closest ‘legal’ position. That found, we looked at one another – “What should we call it?” Various ideas came to mind, then someone said – “Well it’s in the Hauraki Gulf so why not Radio Hauraki”. It sounded perfect – it was perfect. Like naming a baby – we all agreed on the name – and the Radio Hauraki baby had been conceived.

Of course the concept of the Chinese Junk didn’t go ahead – and lots changed in that we merged with David Gapes and Dennis O’Callahan who were also working along similar lines and who already had a boat – the Tiri. But the name stuck and after all these years it is still Radio Hauraki. A bit like all parents, we watch over the station’s evolution – sometimes a bit confused at decisions made but in the main, proud to see Radio Hauraki still there after almost 50 years.

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