Murray Siggelkow is a Ventia IP Communication Technician and celebrated 50 years

Few in the telecommunications industry can say they have seen it all. Ventia IP Communication Technician Murray Siggelkow is about as close as they come. He celebrated 50 years' service with Ventia on 1 February 2021.

A lot has changed throughout Murray's career. Radio antennas have largely given way to fibre optic cables, and the name of the business he works for has changed nine times.

"If you told me 40 years ago we would be fusing together bits of glass to send data and intelligence, I would have laughed at you," Murray said. 

Technological changes over the years have kept me on my toes. I think that is the thing I really enjoy, as well as travelling to see different sites and different problems.

A rich career

Murray started his career in 1971 at the New Zealand Electricity Department (NZED) in Palmerston North as a hydroelectric apprentice. At the end of the apprenticeship, he was given the opportunity to branch out into communications work. 

"I had always had an interest in radio, so I tried out and moved into NZED's communications section in Nelson," he said.

In the years that followed, he worked in Dunedin, Otago and Southland, mainly on radio communications and powerline carrier equipment for power sites. In 1978 he moved to Twizel with his family to work on the remote control of hydroelectric power stations. 

"That was the most satisfying experience. I was working with all new equipment and up-to-date technology that was being used to monitor and control the water flow at power stations remotely, via radio, from the control centre."

He moved back to Nelson in 1982 to become a Senior Communications Technician for NZED, and six years later became a Communications Supervisor working under the Electricorp banner when NZED was corporatised.

From Electricorp to Transfield Services to Broadspectrum and finally Ventia, the company he worked for evolved and changed names nine times. But Murray remained connected and found his place at every turn. 

"I only ever had to submit one CV, and that was right at the start when I applied. The company name just changed around me," Murray said.

For the past eight years, Murray and his team have been looking after the Transpower cable site in Fighting Bay, Marlborough.

The site is home to a high voltage direct current cable taking power across the Cook Strait, along with a 96-fibre cable. We look after the whole station, from mowing lawns to looking after optical SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) nodes and the electrical side of it.

Murray enjoyed some time off recently to celebrate his five-decade milestone, in the national park around the small alpine village of Saint Arnaud. Having returned recently, he has no plans to stop any time soon and will continue his work in the Nelson branch with offsider Tristan Palmer, passing on his knowledge to the next generation of communications technicians.