CONVENTION AT TIWAI by Southland’s Mad March Hare
The New Zealand Radio DX League Convention for 1978 was held at the Southland Branch listening post on the Tiwai peninsula some 20 miles from Invercargill. The ‘shack’ is a three bedroom concrete block house built in the early 1950’s. From the inception of the NZAS aluminium smelter seven years ago the land has not been farmed and the house was vaccant until the Branch obtained the use of it for DX purposes three and one half years ago. The house is situated on peat swamp and the area is ideal for erecting of long wires. Beverage antennas have been erected as follows; 1500 feet to ENE, 4000 feet to NE, 1400 feet to E, 1200 feet to ESE, 1000 feet to SE, 1200 feet to S, 2200 feet to SW and 1000 feet to NW. These give good coverage of all areas and are all terminated through a resistor at the far end. The lead-ins are brought into the house to a central panel and are patched to whichever room is being used as a listening post. Being some six miles from the nearest power source the location is very noise free and battery powered receivers are used to best advantage.
With accommodation being at a premium, only ten could sleep in the house, three caravans were used for sleeping and the attached awnings were turned into action stations. Those living in the house were responsible for cooking their own meals on a roster system and the groups in the caravans looked after themselves. Ernie Moore from Brisbane and Ray Crawford spent the week prior to Convention on the site doing the odd jobs required to ensure all attending would be well catered for. The majority of conventionites arrived at the site on Thursday in time for the evening DX. The balance arriving on Friday in time for the official opening in the early afternoon by Southland Branch President, Steven Greenyer. Afternoon tea, supplied by the Southland Branch Patron, Mr. Owen Crawford and Mrs. Crawford, was served after the welcome speeches were made and the usual bags of goodies were distributed.The Branch Patron was on hand to supervise activities and a ‘get to know you‘ period was observed by most DXers and many old acquaintances were renewed. Tea and evening DX followed with reception conditions favouring Latin America being most evident.
Differing patterns of reception were noted on each of the nights of Convention.
Evening entertainment on Friday consisted of a DX oriented quiz with each member contributing a question, mad or otherwise. The final outcome of the quiz was a win to Bryan Clark by margin of % of a point.
After breakfast on Saturday, those wishing a tour of Invercargill and the
aluminium smelter were taken by local members. The highlight was a look at the
Vintage Radio museum belonging to Arthur Williams. This consists of over 70 radios from the pre 1930’s to recent times and numerous bits and pieces pertaining to radio. Back at Tiwai and the evening DX session over, members were entertained with a mini auction. As usual the higher priced items turned out to be much sought after pennants and car stickers. A raffle had been run and this was drawn at this time by one of the smelter Security Officers who had come down to see that everything was in order. Following on was a darts competition held in congenial conditions in the shearing shed. After many elimination games, repechages and general confusion, Jim Benzoni took first prize. Just before midnight everyone turned to 820 kilohertz to hear 4ZA-E testing. This was aired straight after the close of normal transmission of 4ZA and run for 20 minutes. The other ‘special’ that had been arranged for the weekend was from 1XX on 1240 with 100 watts and located at Murapara. All eagerly tuned in and tried various configurations of aerials to try to hear this sought after New Zealand station. Unfortunately nothing was heard and the interference from
the Australians on the frequency was very strong.
All woke on Sunday greeted by a good frost and cold noses. A luncheon was held
at the Avenal Hotel where conventionites were Joined by the wives of local branch members and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Lankshear. The League President, J. Sutton Burtenshaw welcomed everyone to the luncheon and invited all to ‘tuck in’. Near the conclusion, Mrs. Netta Branks announced that the League Patron, A. Mervyn Branks, would donate a trophy for the verification from the best Convention logging. It was unfortunate that Merv was indisposed in hospital at the time. After lunch all returned to Tiwai and were joined by Peter Lankshear, (Peter from BCNZ arranged the 4ZA-E special), and spent several hours at the site talking ‘shop’ and listening-in with those in action at the dials. No official entertainment was arranged for Sunday evening butmost remained in the house for a very enjoyable chin-wag.
Monday morning came all too soon and the closing ceremony was presided over by Convention Quartermaster, Paul Aronsen. Awards were made for outstanding feats over the weekend and the major ones were presented to Bryan Clark, most logs on broadcast (10); Jim Benzoni, most logs on shortwave (9); Ernie Moore, best log on shortwave, (Grenada 15105); John Allchin, best log on broadcast (4ZA-E) . A sawn-off oar for stirring was presented to Paul Aronsen by Ernie Moore on behalf of all present. It is still not sure if this was for his cock-house duties or not. By mid-morning, with caravans and all gear packed up, convenionites said their sad farewells and departed for home leaving the branch building once more in solitude.
The DX conditions, as for other conventions, were not as good as expected and
very typically the Monday night (first night after Convention) proved good reception from Mountain Standard Time areas. Three Canadian stations were logged and numerous other calls were heard. A feature of the weekend was the tact that no DXer stayed up all night, most having retired to bed by 1.00am and getting up again around 6.00am.This would be the first Convention in memory that no one has been at the dials in the wee small hours.
Those in attendance at Tiwai over the weekend:
Ernie Moore, Brisbane, Qld. Jim Benzoni, Hamilton. Ray Crawford, Invercargill. Bruce Cavanagh, Invercargill. Arthur Williams, Invercargill. Charlie Chester, Invercargill. John Lonie, Invercargill. John Mainland, Wellington.
Arthur Cushen, Invercargill. John Allchin, Auckland. Paul Aronsen, Invercargill. Ash Nallawalla, Dunedin, Leo Miezenbeek, Invercargill. Sutton Burtenshaw, Invercargill. Paul Ormandy, Oamaru. Mark Nicholls, Auckland, Harry Searle, Invercargill. Eric McIntosh, Invercargill. Bryan Clark, Wellington. Steve Greeney, Invercargill. Eddie Mackaskill, Invercargill. Gerald Harper, Oamaru, was found a bed in the house and visitors to Convention included, Ross Renton, Balclutha; Lindsay Robinson, Invercargill; Owen Crawford, Patron Southland Branch, Invercargill; Peter Lankshear, BCNZ, Invercargill.