Centenary 2022

Our History – Justices of the Peace and Early Radio

Celebrations are currently being held to mark 100 years of radio broadcasts in New Zealand. In November 1921 Professor Robert Jack pioneered transmissions in Dunedin. The Government of the day was nervous that in the wrong hands the new medium might be used against the public interest. Hence, all those wishing to receive or transmit had to obtain a licence, and this is where Justices of the Peace came in. Each application had to be accompanied by a Statutory Declaration commending the character of the applicant and promising (as voice took over from morse code) that any private information overheard would not be shared. It was the beginning of popular radio: a licence was issued to Radio Service Auckland with the callsign 1YA and first broadcasts began, live music and talks, four nights a week from a studio in Scot’s Hall, Symonds Street.

Researched and compiled by Ric Carlyon