Hauraki the Boat That Rocked

Staff Writer

It’s a part of radio’s history and one of New Zealand’s original iconic brands: Radio Hauraki.

It’s the real story of New Zealand's Boat That Rocked.

Radio Hauraki started back in 1966 after a bunch of determined young guys defied the government and launched a pirate radio station aboard a ship moored in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf.

Operating for 4 years in International waters they endured storms, shipwrecks, financial pressures, being hassled by the government and even personal tragedy. It was NZ’s first pirate radio station. And this Sunday Pirates Of The Airwaves screens from 8.30pm on TVOne across NZ. No doubt it will surface on the interwebs as well.

You can see a preview of the show below.


The TRN owned brand Hauraki, sure has an amazing history and heritage with many big names OnAir and Bands passing through her doors. 

I caught up with Hauraki’s Content Director David Ridler

Blair RT: So back in 1966 Hauraki was just on a boat. How many markets does Haruaki cover in NZ now?

David: "Hauraki now broadcasts to 16 markets around New Zealand, and plenty of listeners around the world via iheartradio etc which is cool."

Blair RT: Auckland being the Biggest?

David: "Yes Auckland is still the biggest market for Hauraki, but that’s a function of population size really, with Auckland completely dwarfing the other major centres these days."


Blair RT: Hauraki back years ago was a real Classic Rock brand… how do you describe the sound now?

David:  "Hauraki has actually been through quite a few sounds/formats through its 48 year history, but the most dominant in recent memory for people was the ‘Classic Rock That Rocks’ tag. We’ve steadily moved into what I now call a ‘melodic modern alternative’ sound. It’s a lot more than just rock music now, we’re covering elements of indie/alternative and electronic acts too – reflecting what most of our audience have known for a while.. that they enjoy more than just one genre of music."

Blair RT: When did you make the change?

David: "Mike McClung started that process when the station was ‘blown up’ and re-started in January 2013, and he and I have continued that evolution this year."

Blair RT: Have the guys On-Air been catching up with some of the original Hauraki team?

David: "We’ve had a couple of visits in the last few weeks from some of the original Hauraki founders like David Gapes and Ian Magan. It’s humbling and inspiring in equal measures!"

"Here we are now with our comfy offices and digital broadcast desks and NexGen doing so much of the work for us, when back then they had to work ridiculous hours and in very trying conditions to get each broadcast to air. Not to mention what they had to go through just to get to sea in the first place. Legend is a word bandied around too often – but the original Hauraki crew were complete legends and changed the game for radio broadcasting in New Zealand. As I say, humbling and inspiring to meet them."

Blair RT: What's ahead for Hauraki?

David:  "We feel like we’re starting to hit our straps now after a comprehensive change of format and talent line-up over the last 18 months, and we feel like we’re starting to pick up some real momentum. The trick now is to get the message out to as many people as possible and continue to engage and excite them with the radio we’re delivering – which we feel is pretty unique in the NZ market right now. In some ways we do feel like we’re returning to the original spirit of Hauraki by playing a mix of music no one else plays and going against the mainstream tide a bit. But we’re not going to get back on a boat just yet!"


Blair RT: Finally, early this week RadioToday covered Hauraki's Breakfast show with Matt, Jeremy and Laura  partying for 24 hours straight how did they pull up?

David:  "Haha yeah, No Sleep Til Breakfast.. now there’s a little idea that spiralled! Let’s just say at 5am when I was bundling the team into a taxi after the final house party I was not confident we were going to have a show by 6am! But Matt, Jeremy and Laura got some coffee and water into them and held it together pretty sensationally all things considered. If you listen to the audio though you can certainly tell they’d been partying – Matt’s voice alone spoke volumes. Good times!?


Pirates Of The Airwaves screens from 8.30pm this Sunday on TVOne across NZ. You can preview the show below.



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