History of the North Otago Branch

The inaugural meeting of the North Otago Branch of the New Zealand Radio DX League was held in Oamaru on Saturday April 5th, 1952.

In opening the meeting the President of the League, Arthur Cushen said it was the first branch formed since the formation of the League in 1948 and brought the number of branches to three – Southland, Otago and North Otago.

Jack Fox extended congratulations on behalf of the Otago Branch and presented a cup for Competition between North Otago members. The newly elected president, Don Reed thanked the HQ staff and the Otago Branch for the hard work they had done in forming the new branch. He added that as the “baby brother”, North Otago would do its best and be an example to the rest of New Zealand.


North Otago Branch members on safari at Shag Valley

Mr. Des Lynn, the Dominion Secretary spoke on branch administration and organisation and appealed to members to assist the branch and its officers.

Officers were elected as follows: President – Mr W D Reed Vice-President – Mr L M Collett Sec-Treasurer – Mr D Devon Stationery Sec – Mr L M Collett Comp Judge – Mr W D Reed Log-keeper – Mr P J Grenfell

In the 1950’s the Broadcast Band was the main attraction for DXers. We remember with fondness when the 250 watters from the USA came through on clear channels. Keen members Jack Reddan, Don Devon and Peter Grenfell were in the habit of biking from Oamaru to Hilderthorpe to Don Reeds poultry farm to log 250 watters. It was interesting to note that they would arrive home in the early hours of the morning (sometimes in daylight) with much joy and appreciation of having heard “Yanks all over the band”. The parents of these teenagers were also very grateful to Don Reed opening up his home to such eager and enthusiastic boys.

From 1952 the branch held regular monthly meetings in members homes. It was in recess for a few years in the late 50’s but was reformed in September 1963. Mention should be made of Ito Tsukigawa who joined the League in October 1960. Ito had unbounding energy and enthusiasm and helped many new members starting off in the hobby. His generosity and help was an inspiration to the club over many years.

The Branch progressed over the years to the stage where they built in June 1966 their own listening post or “Graeme’s Shack” as it was called after its chief carpenter Graeme Hill.


The “Shack” on Caledonian Road

The shack was shifted from Caledonian Road right on the sea coast in July 1973 to Reservoir Rd, 400ft above sea level with views from Moeraki Lighthouse to the Otago Heads. On August 1st 1975 the “Shack” with its new painting and plastering just completed was demolished by the major storm which swept the South Island.

From the insurance monies the Shack was rebuilt and was used continuously and shared with the local NZART until June 1990 when it was dismantled and the aerials taken down. The Branch has since met at various places around Oamaru and at present members are meeting each month in various homes.

The Archives section of the NZRDXL was formed in early 1971 by the North Otago Branch to preserve early radio history in the form of QSLs, books, radios, magazines etc. The Branch continues to look after the archives and is still requiring permanent storage for the collection.

The AGMs of the NZRDXL were held in Oamaru from October 1972 to October 1992 with the exception of the 25th AGM held in Dunedin in 1973 and the 40th AGM held in Invercargill in 1988. These annual meetings were always eagerly anticipated by the North Otago members as so many friendships had developed over the years. Bryan Clark of Auckland has attended every meeting held in Oamaru so that we now consider him an honorary member of the Branch. We always look forward to his visits, his enthusiasm and his ability to share with everyone his DXing skills.


A North Otago Branch Promotional display. manned by Dave Lowrey

The Branch is very fortunate to be able to make use of the Ormandy family cottage at Waianakarua for DXcursions. Paul Ormandy has erected extensive Beverage aerials in all directions at the site which is becoming known all around the world for its high quality of DX. Paul is an inspiration to the club and is always willing to share his knowledge and experience with all members. Well known DXers Harry Weatherley, Bryan Clark and of course Mark Nicholls are often seen bleary-eyed at this location. Quite often the Branches hard-working secretary Basil Jamieson and local identity Alistair Sutherland are seen sneaking down for some exotic DX.

Looking back over the years it could be said that although we average about 10 to 15 members we are a close-knit club, always sharing DX information and communicating with each other when we have heard a new station or have new ideas.

It is in the friendships developed that makes the DX hobby such a wonderful pastime. Not only is it educationally fascinating but enthusiasm and determination can bring the rewards of exotic QSLs.


Alistair Sutherland, Paul ormandy, Peter Grenfell & Basil Jamieson sporting mugs won during an HCJB promotion.

As a Branch of the NZRDXL we feel that the League is in great heart and we pay tribute to the administration committees over the years who have encouraged and helped the Branch. The DX Times which month after month produces the latest DX tips and information plays a great part in this success. We pay tribute to past editors and to the present Editor Arthur de Maine.

Finally we mention Arthur and Ralda Cushen of Invercargill who have been so helpful to the Branch since its inception 42 years ago. Arthur and Ralda were frequent visitors to Oamaru, attending all the AGMs and we are very fortunate to have them both with us at this convention. Their enthusiasm over the years has been a major influence in the success of the League and of the North Otago Branch.

We are delighted to welcome all visitors to the convention. 73s, Peter Grenfell (written for the 1994 Convention magazine).


Dennis Rodway and Ted Sutton logging a stations, a regular occurence at Branch meetings

Basil Jamieson & Paul Ormandy wondering why Alistair Sutherland needs so many radios, there were another 300+ in the garage!!!