1940: PM was a radio fan

Historical Notes – Internal Affairs Files
(From Internal Affairs File, courtesy of Jane Mathews)

From a series of memos recording correspondence regarding invitations to the Dedication Ceremony of the “Musick Memorial Radio Centre”, suggestions for invited guests include Geoff Fairfield and Roy Thornton, the Auckland City and Birkenhead Park head gardeners, but these do not appear on the official guest lists on the day.

Most guests appear to be engineering, meteorological and army officials. Late invitations were to Sir Ernest and Lady Davis, Mayor and Mayoress of Auckland. The official guests – 40 in all – departed by bus from the Railway Station Hotel in Beach Road (Prime Minister Peter Fraser’s residence when he was in Auckland).

It appears that some of the files held in the Internal Affairs register were, for their time, top secret. There is a combination of Auckland’s first airport and telecommunications from Australia and the USA, as well as meteorological history embedded in the explanation of assisting planes to receive communications as they land in the harbour.

The file has numerous reference to the high security presence, and there were permanent guards in attendance.

New Zealand PM Michael Joseph Savage

Michael Joseph Savage

An interesting letter to Peter Fraser after Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage’s death in 1940 highlights Savage’s interest in technology and especially radio and television.

Marsden (of the Marsden Science funding process) suggested to Fraser that one way to memorialize Savage would be to set up a communication research centre. There is a suggestion that the Musick Point building may even have been on the drawing boards before the death of Captain Musick.

Marsden’s suggestion is outlined in the following quote from his memo to the minister in March 1940, referring to Savage:

“…his outlook on radio, as a means of keeping the public reliably informed of State Affairs well might be commemorated by a Research Institute whose work it was to keep up-to-date information on radio, Television etc…”