Ahipara mouth artist Kevin Griffiths might not have the use of his hands but it hasn't stopped him from doing the things he loves most.

Griffiths often heads down to Ninety Mile Beach to fish but found his standard wheelchair was always getting stuck in the sand.

Frustrated by its efforts, Griffiths teamed up with his fitter and turner brother Dave to build a six-wheel-drive, all-terrain electric wheelchair.

"We wanted it to be powerful enough to plough through sand so I could go fishing", he said.

Advertisement

"So, we [went] for a six-wheel-drive driven by high torque electric motors."

Ahipara mouth painting artist Kevin Griffiths developed this six-wheel-drive wheelchair with his brother.
Ahipara mouth painting artist Kevin Griffiths developed this six-wheel-drive wheelchair with his brother.

Now, Griffiths can venture almost anywhere he pleases, the wheelchair tackling a variety of surfaces from sand, beach rocks, mud and farmland with ease.

Disability advocate and Tiaho Trust chief executive Jonny Wilkinson said the invention is "non-disabling" for wheelchair users.

"I think that individuals aren't disabled, they have impairments but its the environment or attitudes that disables them," he told the Northern Advocate.

"So, if you're a wheelchair user and you're in an environment that a wheelchair can't get through it's a disabling environment.

"Something like that six-wheeled wheelchair is incredibly non-disabling and allows access to the wonderful outdoors that we have around Northland."

Griffiths broke his neck during a swimming accident at 13 and has been confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic since.

Painting with his mouth, Griffiths creates paintings of the countryside which surrounds him and sells them worldwide.

Advertisement

Selling for $28,000+GST, the brothers have sold 80 of their all-terrain wheelchairs in New Zealand and five in Australia, each being tailored specifically to the needs of its owner.

Named "6X6 Explorer", the wheelchair started off as an import from the United States but the Griffiths brothers felt it could be improved considerably.

A new Auto Sport seat with a four-point safety harness was installed, along with fold-up padded armrests and a low footrest area which makes for easy access.

The electric-powered wheelchair has a top speed of walking pace and has low gearing likened to a four-wheel-drive vehicle in low range.

The list of gadgets and gizmos don't stop there either, it can also be fitted with a 2500lb winch at the front and back to help conquer more difficult terrain.

But the wheelchair isn't only for those who have suffered spinal injuries, Griffiths said, as they appeal to any manner of people.

"We feel it is also very suitable for the elderly, such as those who have had a stroke, or farmers who are no longer able to ride a Quad Bike," he said.