Copper Rod

Author: Trevor ScottHeader Photo from the archives, pre 1971Date: March 2024

Did you know that lighthouses are often struck by lightning? To prevent damage caused by these strikes, lighthouses are equipped with metal poles called lightning rods. These rods are attached to a thick copper wire that runs from the top of the lighthouse down to the ground. When lightning strikes the tower, it enters through the lightning rod and travels down the wire into the ground, minimizing potential damage.

Trevor Scott, who was the lighthouse keeper on Tiritiri Matangi from 1958-1960 and 1966-1969, shared that he remembers seeing the spare left over copper rods used to hang up curtains in the lighthouse keepers house.

Trevor Scott has writtenCopper RodUsed for lightning conductor on Tiritiri Lighthouse. This runs under ground from the base of the tower northwards east of the Norfolk pin to the bottom of the gully where a plate of copper is attached and buried in the swamp. In 1958 this and other pieces were under the maracarpa. Also the old house that was on the eastern cliff side had used the left over as curtain rods. 

Trevor Scott holding the copper rod that he has gifted to the Tiritiri Matangi MuseumPhoto credit: Talia Hochwimmer

The Tiritiri Matangi Lighthouse pre 1971, from the archives

The Tiritiri Matangi Lighthouse todayPhoto credit: Geoff Beals