New radio repeater for Ruahine Ranges will help save lives

In an effort to help with Search and Rescue (SAR) responses and Department of Conservation (DOC) management of the Ruahine Forest Park, a new DOC radio repeater has recently been installed on the Ngamoko Range near the high point known as Tunupo.

It was recognised that radio communications, particularly in the Oroua and Pohangina catchments, were largely non-existent. This posed risks for Police and Land Search and Rescue when responding to search and rescue events, particularly when the weather prevents flying in portable radio repeaters.

Over the last 18 months DOC, NZ Police and local iwi Ngāti Hauiti have worked together on a joint project to address this, resulting in the repeater being installed in February this year.

The repeater is solar powered.

“This will greatly improve our SAR responses and will undoubtedly help save lives” says Sergeant Bill Nicholson, Central District Police SAR Coordinator.

“Tests have indicated excellent coverage along the range and well into the Tararua, lower Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu and Rangitikei districts.”

Local Iwi Ngāti Hauiti were consulted in the process, supported the proposal and had input to the siting of the repeater. Representatives from Ngāti Hauiti,  accompanied by DOC Officer Richard Taiaroa, blessed the site prior to construction of the repeater.

“This project demonstrated how easy it can be for all stakeholders to co-operate, in the provision of communication systems that assist in Search and Rescue responses,“ says Neville Lomax, Chair of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Hauiti, the iwi with manawhenua status in this area.

“DOC is pleased to be able to work with others to help ensure a safer community by the increased capabilities of SAR radio coverage,” says Manawatu DOC Operations Manager John Rasmussen.

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