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Aotearoa On The Air: 100 Years Of Radio

New Zealand's first radio broadcast took place on 17 November 1921 when Professor Robert Jack made the first radio broadcast in New Zealand from Otago University’s physics department. For a week in November, RNZ is going to be celebrating radio in this country - the milestones, what it means to us today, and the unforgettable moments and memories.

There will be special programming across RNZ National and RNZ Concert from Saturday 13 – Sunday 21 November, and content available online. Listeners can be involved too, by submitting their own radio memories to

RNZ CEO and Editor-in-Chief Paul Thompson says that even with the advent of new platforms, radio continues to be a vital source of information and entertainment for many.

“Radio is an incredibly powerful tool for storytelling, and while our Aotearoa on the air programming will look back at some of the significant moments in the history of radio, we can also reflect on the role of radio now and in the future. I believe that radio is going from strength to strength, and at RNZ our integration with digital platforms has enabled us to connect with more New Zealanders than ever," Thompson said.

RNZ National’s Saturday Morning host Kim Hill will be MC for a special event by the National Library and Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision on the day of the centenary. Voices in the Air will be recorded and broadcast on RNZ National as a Smart Talk at 7pm on 21 November.

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Aotearoa on the Air: 100 years of radio
13-21 November
and on RNZ National and RNZ Concert

Voices in the Air

To celebrate the centenary of New Zealand’s first radio broadcasts on 17 November 1921, join sound history researcher Sarah Johnston in listening to the sounds of 100 years ago.

On the evening of 17 November 1921, an experimental radio broadcast was made by Otago University Physics Professor Robert Jack.

To mark the centenary of the birth of New Zealand radio, researcher Sarah Johnston presents recordings from the Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision archives, and memories of those early broadcasts as well as her current research into New Zealand’s World War II radio Mobile Units. These were recorded on discs in Egypt, Italy and the Pacific between 1940-1945 and broadcast on radio back home.

The event will be MC’d by Kim Hill from RNZ and recorded for broadcast as a Smart Talk at 7pm on 21 November on RNZ National.

Brought to you by National Library of New Zealand, Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision, and broadcast by RNZ.

Visit the National Library website.

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