Nine inventions by talented New Zealanders

By Marilynn McLachlan

Kiwi AJ Hackett developed a strong, super-stretchy elastic bungy cord. Photo / Wayne Drought
Kiwi AJ Hackett developed a strong, super-stretchy elastic bungy cord. Photo / Wayne Drought

New Zealanders have long been associated with ingenuity and a can-do attitude. Here are nine inventions by talented Kiwis who enjoyed thinking outside the box.

Read more:
The 50 coolest Kiwis ever (+photos)

1. The eggbeater - Ernest Godward

Godward moved to New Zealand from England in 1886 and he began inventing things on the side while working at the Southland CycleWorks. In 1900 he invented and patented an egg beater that prepared eggs for a sponge cake in three and a half minutes - previously it had taken 15 minutes.

2. Commercial bungy jump - AJ Hackett

Inspired by the Vanuatu ritual of land diving, Kiwi AJ Hackett developed a strong, super-stretchy elastic bungy cord and proved its strength by illegally jumped off the Eiffel Tower in 1987. A year later he launched his own company, becoming the world's first commercial public bungy.

3. The Jetpack - Glenn Martin

Glenn Martin said he spent 30 years working on what the Federal Aviation Administration classifies as an experimental ultralight airplane. Martin unveiled it in America in 2008 and it can now fly for over 30 minutes, with speeds up to 74 km/hr. It was named one of Time magazine's 50 best inventions in 2010.

Visit the Martin Jetpack website here.

4. Referee's whistle - William Atack

The referee's whistle is a normal feature of sports games, but Cantabrian William Atack was the first sports referee in the world to use a whistle to stop a game. As a rugby referee, Atack found the use of the voice exhausting and found the whistle to be a great success. It was soon adopted all over the country and then world.

5. Jogging - Arthur Lydiard

Runner and athletics coach Arthur Lydiard is credited with inventing a new training technique based on endurance and periodisation, made famous by two of his protégés, Peter Snell and Murray Halberg, winning gold medals at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

6. Disposable syringes - Colin Murdoch

Pharmacist and veterinarian Colin Murdoch was also an inventor, with 46 patents to his name. Aware of the risks of infection of glass syringes, he designed and patented the disposable hypodermic syringe. Initially the Department of Health felt it was "too futuristic". It took a few years before it was adopted and used by millions around the world.

7. High speed amphibious vehicles - Alan Gibbs


Photo / Random House

The earliest amphibious vehicles date back to the 1700s, but it was businessman Alan Gibbs who launched the world's first road-legal, high-speed amphibian in 2003. The following year, Richard Branson drove one of Gibbs' vehicles to break the record for an amphibious crossing of the English Channel. His third design, the Quadski, went to market early last year.

8. Zorb - Akers brothers


Photo / Ben Fraser

Brothers David and Andrew Akers designed another adventurous invention - the Zorb. It is a giant orb made of plastic that spins its occupants downhill - sometimes up to 50km/hr. The brothers created ZORB Ltd, setting up an international franchise system making "Zorbing" a popular recreational activity around the world.

9. Flying machine - Richard Pearse

While the Wright brothers are often given credit for inventing the first plane, evidence suggests that farmer and inventor Richard Pearse flew a plane on 31st March 1903 for 140 metres before it crashed - some nine months before the Wright brothers. Relying on the small amount of materials available to him, he used bamboo and scrap metal to build his plane.

- nzherald.co.nz

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