I was blessed to be part of the early history of Radio Hauraki
The station was built aboard a boat in Auckland New Zealand in 1965/66. The first broadcast was from from the vessel Tiri in the Colville Channel between Great Barrier Island and Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand.
The idea was formulated by four young New Zealander’s, David Gapes, Denis O’Callahan, Derek Lowe and Chris Parkinson. These four people, the eldest only 27 at the time challenged the NZ Government and the NZ Broadcasting Corporation which held a total monopoly.
Obviously the NZ Broadcasting Corporation held very little appeal to the young New Zealander’s. Despite many attempts to secure a private broadcasting licence, they all failed, therefore Radio Hauraki decided to broadcast offshore.
The first test transmissions began in earnest on 1 December 1966. The very first song played was “Born Free” Matt Munro’s big hit and that became the theme song for this famous station. The first announcer was Bob Leahy who went on to become one of the countries most well loved and most professional voices heard for years on New Zealand Radio.
Over the next few years, many incidents at sea plus legal challenges tested the resolve of those involved. January 1968 the Tiri hit rocks on Great Barrier Island. A replacement vessel was found, the ( Tiri II), unfortunately also ran aground.
Finally in March 1970 the Broadcasting Authority awarded licences for the first time and Radio Hauraki conducted its final broadcast from sea on 1 June 1970. The theme song ‘Born Free’ terminated the transmission. The rest is history.