The NZ Police Teleprinter Network 1948 - 1976

Teleprinters were first introduced for NZ police use in 1948. They operated between Auckland, Hamilton Palmerston North, Wellington Christchurch and Dunedin. The service used leased post office lines and was only available at night (between 6pm and 6am) when commercial traffic was at a minimum. The first machine used in this service was the Creed Model 7, which was used by the Post Office in the national telegraph service

Because of low traffic volume the commissioner of the time decided that the service did not justify the costs, so in 1954 the police network was closed down.

When the printers were removed the internal wiring at the stations was retained - a wise move, since by June 1955 the newly appointed Controller- General of Police wanted to know why the service had been removed in view of the general trend elsewhere to introduce new networks. As part of a major upgrade of policing, the teleprinter networks were reintroduced in 1958.

When the circuits were reinstalled the police were given dedicated lines which provided 24 hour service. This time the benefits to police work of rapid text communicating became obvious, and the amount of traffic quickly increased.

The Creed model 54 became the standard teleprinter and was used on the police network between 1958 and 1976 when the Wanganui computer message switching system was introduced. The network eventually included most of the larger police stations in the country.

Teleprinter Operators using Creed 54 printers
in the Auckland message centre - March 1960 Evening Post Photo


Christchurch Teleprinter room 1972

Auckland Wellington and Christchurch were the main terminals, and messages were relayed from these centres to other stations in their areas.

For example, a message from Greymouth (in Christchurch's area) to Whangarei (in Auckland's area) would go from Greymouth to Christchurch, to Auckland, to Whangarei.

At Christchurch and Auckland the incoming message would be punched onto paper tape using a "reperforator" attachment on the teleprinter, and the tape would then be fed into a tape reader for onward transmission to the next station in the network.


Paper tape used for retransmission and storage of teleprinter messages


Teleprinter message on paper tape being fed into a tape
reader for onward transmission




In addition to the main police stations, there was a teleprinter link to the Motor Registration centre at Palmerston North, where all vehicle licensing record were held. Officers wanting a check on a vehicle registration number would call their station and request a "Telinfo" on the number. A teleprinter message would be sent to Palmerston North, where somone would check the manual records, and teleprint the vehcle type and owners name and address back to the requesting station. Depending on workload and line congestion this could take anything from half an hour to many hours.

Creed Tape Reader

In Auckland, a pneumatic document transport system called a Lamson Tube was installed in the Central Police station to help with the distribution of teleprinter messages around the station.  

History of Teleprinters in Police Service>>