New Zealand: The "Innovation Nation" for Marine Technology

Boxfish Luna – Photo courtesy of Boxfish Research

Published Jun 21, 2021 1:42 PM by NZTE

The ocean has been a natural playground for generations of New Zealanders. With over a third of the population participating in boating each year, coupled with our undeniable love for the sea, New Zealanders are true marine enthusiasts. It’s a mindset that has contributed to New Zealand’s long legacy of innovation in the industry. New Zealanders were first in the world to pioneer the development of water jet propulsion, and they were the first to develop the technology to transform all-terrain vehicles into oceangoing speed boats, among many other innovations.

Photo courtesy of Hamilton Jet

Why Choose the Innovation Nation?

New Zealanders never settles for less, and our marine products and services are no exception. Our willingness to take innovation to the next level - encompassing everything from boat building and sail making to electronics and equipment hardware - has earned us global recognition. With our ongoing commitment to R&D, prototyping and testing, we continue to work tirelessly to turn our ideas into reality.

Our world-leading technology is the result of our marine industry, which is the largest and most specialized manufacturing industry in New Zealand. The sector extends beyond manufacturing, touching research and education, construction and tourism as well. New Zealand's marine industry currently totals $2 billion in sales and employs over 10,000 people, and it is expected to double in size over the next 10 to 15 years.

Innovative Kiwi companies like Hamilton Jet, Marine Flex, Sealegs and Stabicraft have been at the forefront of technological advancements in the marine industry for decades. In the 1950s, Sir William Hamilton of Hamilton Jet was a pioneer in waterjet propulsion. Paul Adams and Bruce Dickens of Stabicraft built the first rigid hulled aluminum chambered boat in 1987. Marine Flex is the industry leader in screw anchoring systems and elastic moorings, and Sealegs is known around the world for its patented amphibious vessels.

Sealegs Sport RIB – Photo courtesy of Sealegs

Stabicraft 2250 Ultra Centrecab – Photo courtesy of Stabicraft

A Different Class

Driven by the environment we patrol, New Zealand has an impeccable reputation for high-performance commercial inshore patrol, search and rescue, and security craft and technologies used by coast guards, navy, fire, and police in a range of coastal environments around the world. New Zealand's willingness to explore new frontiers in marine innovation, encompassing everything from boat building and sail making to electronics and equipment hardware, has earned New Zealand global recognition. Through our advanced marine technologies, we are always working to make people safer on and off the water.

Technology leaders like Vesper Marine and Navicom Dynamics use this environment to make boating safer. Vesper Marine has revolutionized the use of AIS and communications systems for a safer boating experience. Navicom Dynamics is a global leader in the precision positioning and orientation technologies and monitoring systems market. They are known for specialized piloting and navigation systems, customizable docking aids and bespoke GNSS technology applications for maritime navigation.

World-Leading Technology, User-Driven Design

You’re never more than about 80 miles from the sea on the island nation of New Zealand, whose boatbuilding legacy has spawned a new generation of technological advances. These advances are often practical solutions for today’s boaters and boat builders. Vetus Maxwell has designed reliable and attractive anchoring solutions for pleasure boats, superyachts and commercial vessels for over forty years. Bowmaster created state-of-the-art anchoring deployment solutions beginning in the early 1970s and has worked with some of the biggest boat builders in the business. For nearly 50 years, Manson Anchors has produced some of the most reliable and innovative anchors on the market.

Anchor Deployment Carriage – Photo courtesy of Bowmaster

Designed for the Extreme, Built for Safety

Whether it's for commercial or recreational markets, we pride ourselves on testing, refining and perfecting our marine products – which is why they are among the most reliable and durable in the world. They are designed and built to perform in the harsh conditions of the Southern Ocean, and if they work here, they will work anywhere. Everything is created by and for the world's most passionate marine enthusiasts, which is why we uphold the highest safety standards.

Take for example Propspeed. The industry leader in foul-release coatings, the Propspeed coating system is recognized globally as the best prevention for marine growth and fouling of propellers, running gear and other underwater metals. Tru Design specializes in the design, manufacture and marketing of high quality marine valves, skin fittings, hose nozzles and other products. McKay’s marine division, one of the world’s leading marine electrical companies, is the market leader in its segment and has added value to many complex and unique marine projects all around the world. Boxfish Research set out to build a better ROV and they did just that, producing one that is lightweight, easy to use, easy to deploy combined with unmatched image quality, maneuverability, range and depth.

Propspeed – Photo courtesy of Propspeed

This article is sponsored by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), the New Zealand government's international business development agency. For more information on New Zealand marine products, services and expertise, or to connect with us, discover more by clicking here.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.