Monday, December 17, 2012

A closer look at Cook Islands

More Intrigues in the Cook Islands

630 kHz 2.5 kW mediumwave at Matavera.

Continuing north on the east side of the island, I returned to the transmitter site of Radio Cook Islands.

The coordinates are as follows:
21 13 05.285 S 159 44 09.391 W
at an elevation of 12' according to my GPS on the smart phone. It's directly at the north-west corner of the Matavera school.

Again, absolutely no markings, other than "high voltage" signs in English and Cook Island Maori. Not a hint of any broadcast significance. The tower, itself, appears to be about 200' high, and has fading red/white painting. No obvious light on the top. Plenty of guy wires across the
school yard. PAL lists 2.5 kW. It doesn't get out that well even on the island. Not bad, but not super strong.

I didn't see any sign of studios, which I'm assuming are in Avarua town. This is a very poor island, so finances are always very tight here. The people, though, are absolutely very friendly, even though, they are quite difficult to understand. Heavily accented English, quite slurred, it would seem. They don't understand us very well either, so we usually have to repeat ourselves a time or two, before being understood! Towards the end of my circle journey, I drove on the mountain side of the airport to find the other antenna farm, located on the south-west side of the airport at the following

21 12 26.29 S 159 49 06.09 W
21 12 23.68 S 159 49 10.88 W - AIRPORT TRAFFIC RADIO TX HOUSE

The antennae are located on a 9 hole golf course. Besides dipoles, there also was a fan array, as well as a long-wire end fed antenna. I'm assuming this is the transmission site for the airport.
(Walt Salmaniw, Rarotonga, Cook Islands, DXplorer Dec 9)

We've been around the island perhaps 20 times, and for the first time, I noticed something very interesting directly south of the 630 transmitter tower at Matavera.

I don't know how I could have missed it, except that I was probably focused entirely on the MW tower. On the road, perhaps 100 m south, there's a very large tall dipole array which spans across the road with one wooden support (a good twice as tall as the power poles) on the water side, and the other across the road. The wire is still in place with the lead in in the center between the poles and the lead in (looks like coax) coming down and now tied to a guard rail. On top of that, right on the
water line in the same vicinity are two more tall poles, same height, and parallel to the beach, but without any wires strung between them.

Clearly, they were for shortwave, and judging from the height, something very official. I started to wonder whether these, perhaps were originally for SW transmitters as well, or another receiving station at that end of the island. I would sure like to hear from others who might have more information about this. I'm hoping to go out there tomorrow. The store that we wanted to see there was closed today, so we didn't get off.

Talking with the bus driver, there's precious little that is publicly funded these days. Even the bus service (a very important essential service) is privately owned. Apart from the airport, police, and schools, I can't see much evidence of any other public service (water and power, too, I suppose).

With all this happening back in the 80s, over halve the population left the Cook Islands for greener pastures in New Zealand, Australia, the other Pacific islands, and even North America. There are two or three times the number of Cook Islanders elsewhere, than at home. I earlier mentioned the large
court house where Guy had seen the burned remains of RCI, presumably the SW transmitter(s) years ago.

Both this very large court house, and equally opulent central police station a 100 or 200 meters down the road were constructed by the Chinese. A contentious issue, it seems here. Parliament is in session until today and that's all that's heard on RCI from the late morning to later in the afternoon, and I've heard mentions of "being paid off by the Chinese", or "the honourable member will have to check with his Chinese bosses" about this or that! In any case, time is quickly drawing to a close for our time here in Rarotonga. It's been an extremely relaxing trip!
73, Walt Salmaniw, Rarotonga.
(Walter Salmaniw-BC-CAN, on tour in Pacific Cook Isl, DXplorer Dec 14)
(BCDX/WWDX Top News 1095 12/16/12)