My family history interests led me to write and publish several books.
In August 1996 I published Himatangi Radio Station 1953-1995, a
book about a communications station I had worked at when I had been employed
by the NZ Post Office. The station was built at a time when high frequency
radio circuits were used to communicate around the globe - no Internet
browsing in those days! Data circuits were hand or machine Morse Code at about
20 words per minute and shipping telegraph or Pacific Island telex circuits
were at 50 baud (bits per second). Weather facsimile pictures had a resolution
of 60 lines per inch and were sent at two lines per second. The station closed
in 1995, its role having been overtaken by satellite and high capacity
under-sea cable circuits.
A third book, this one about my father's years as a soldier with the 2nd NZEF Medical Corps during WW II was completed in May 1997. It is based on my father's personal diaries in which he recorded much of the social life of soldiers in the North African desert and in the mountains of Italy. He told of the many rugby games, 'plonk' (red wine) sessions, and of going AWOL (absent without leave) in the desert to locate his brother. In Italy he helped farmers bring in their harvest, was given a job guarding a brothel, sang with washer-women in tiny mountain villages, and composed scripts for impromptu concerts. The Johnson Line: Percy's Army Years has 170 pages and over 220 photographs.
Wanting a bit of a change from my own family, I worked on a history for my brother-in-law and his relatives. That book, Copeland Gold, tells of two Copeland generations who worked the goldfields of the Nokomai valley in Northern Southland, of a step-brother who settled in Oamaru and of cousins who settled in Canterbury. While the Southlanders won their share of heavy nuggets, they also knew a love of the land. Copelands helped turn the country's rough, rabbit-infested bogs into fine farmland. They mustered the hill country, fenced remote boundary lines and raised large families. Copeland Gold is Southland's gold. The gold of its riverbeds, of its hills and plains and of its towns and people.