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The Nelson Photo News



"Number Please!"

Those who have been acquainted with manual telephone exchanges know there can be frustrating delays - especially when the operators are frantically busy. But there is also the compensation of hearing a, usually, cheery "number please."

Manual exchanges have gradually given way to the more sophisticated automatic exchanges but there is still one fairly large manual exchange operating in the Nelson telephone district. And that is at Motueka. It caters for 2106 subscribers and in a busy period handles about 1000 local calls an hour. Tolls handled at the exchange range between 700 to over 1000 a month.

Television has influenced many aspects of modern life and so, it seems, it has affected telephone traffic. During popular programmes, exchange staff have a relatively easy task. But bring on a dull movie, or the like, and the wires run hot.

The Motueka exchange opened on July 19, 1907, and catered for 23 subscribers but with a limited time service. Fifty years ago, in July, 1921, the exchange began its 24 hour service.

The time will come when the manual will be replaced by the automatic and the passing will be another section of inevitable history.

Post office Motueka N.Z.


Little wonder that callers sometimes ask the operators what their numbers (private) are. This happy crew of exchange girls comprises Susan Reeve (nearest camera), Margaret Atkins (centre) and Shirley Bisiey


The old Motueka Post Office which burned down in 1938 and was replaced by the present building in 1943. The fire which destroyed the Post Office started in the Post Office Hotel on the other side of the street. Several other buildings in the vicinity were also burned



No time to look at the camera right now. Some of the staff at the Motueka telephone exchange hard at work. There are 22 members of the exchange staff who work shifts


Joanne Edgar and Joceiyn Newport spare a moment for the camera. Brian Lunn was busy at the time


"Just for you, "says Brian Lunn


Stan Goodman, senior exchange supervisor, has been with the Post Office for 42½ years and all but two of them, when he was at Tadmor, have been at Motueka


The new Postmaster at Motueka is Mr Ted Cahill who, with his wife and two of their children, came from Alexandra, Central Otago. A keen golfer, he has joined the Motueka club.