Is Kiwi Ingenuity a Thing of the Past


OK, apologies for the blogfade. My father in law has gone to rest 3 months after being told he had 3 days to 2 weeks left after a second long battle with cancer. I’ve had lots of things I wanted to blog about, but haven’t had the time or state of mind. But I’m back with bells on.

Lots of things coming up, so please keep an eye out. What’s coming up?

I want to talk some more about health technology and ask why we aren’t using it in our hospitals to the degree that we should even though it can save time, money and most of all, lives.

I also want to explore in depth the Number 8 Fencing Wire way of life in New Zealand and whether it still exists. I want to explore why, when we have so many brilliant minds in New Zealand, it doesn’t result in increased GDP and why the little guy stays little.

I discussed this with a colleague a few days ago and he postulated that we are still celebrating Ernest Rutherford, the Hamilton Jet, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, AJ Hackett and Number 8 fencing wire and some guy who rode an Indian motorcycle faster than it was designed to go and that they are all in the past. He seemed to think we weren’t so smart any more.

So I asked him, what about the Rex, 3D Printing, the Martin Jet Pack or Mark Rocket’s Rocket? He hadn’t heard of any of those and I suspect very few Kiwi’s have.

I have long bemoaned that New Zealand doesn’t take advantage of a fairly unique mindset that makes up many Kiwis. There are so many opportunities, so many capable people, but we seem to be unable to capitalise on them. Yes there are grants, there are incubators, there are clusters, but most good ideas either go by the wayside or fly overseas where investors recognise an opportunity when they see one.

So I’m going to do some digging and some talking and maybe even have the opportunity to help a few people on the way. New Zealand has the potential to be an innovation and center of excellence capital of the world. Whether it is a gadget that stops the paint tin falling off a ladder or nanotechnology, we are great problem solvers.

More people, businesses and government need to recognize and harness our ability and we need to do it differently if we want to get a different result. Our smarts are everywhere but they are disorganized and rudderless. I say we wake up and smell the coffee.

Let’s go Kiwis! Come along for the ride. Don’t just listen, come and join the conversation. Have you got some good ideas? What’s holding you back?

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2 thoughts on “Is Kiwi Ingenuity a Thing of the Past

  1. One thing I do know is that people like to help other people. Kiwis have a tradition of helping each other out. Back in the day if you were going to erect a fence or build a deck, your neighbors would be there with a hammer to help.

    The same often applies in business and the first thing is to ask for help, but who to ask? If you want to build a good fence, ask someone who’s done it before. A person who has built a good deck could help you build a good fence, but would you ask an accountant for help?

    Obsession is a good point. I think Derek Handley mentioned something similar in the latest Idealogue Magazine, if I remember correctly a measure of passion and obsession together with an open mind is a good place to start. The guys at The Hyperfactory kept going when others doubted. They worked the long hours and now many people will say they were lucky. I say the harder they worked the luckier they got.

    Most people don’t have that doggedness, but so many people have the good ideas. We need to find ways to connect them to people who know how or know who. LinkedIn is a good place to look, but most people will not respond well to overtures from strangers.

    Working on a strategy:)

  2. I don’t think there is any doubt that Kiwis still punch above their weight in the world, at least in the arenas of sport and mechanical ingenuity.

    From what I’ve read about them, Rex and the Martin Jet Pack – just to take two of the inventions you mentioned – were the product of an extraordinary degree of persistence on the part of their inventors, what we might rightfully call (both of us being Van Morrison fans) a Beautiful Obsession.

    It’s both inspiring and frustrating to imagine what (who knows how many other) Kiwis labouring in obscurity might be capable of with a Silicon Valley-style degree of investment capital, government support, and media coverage.

    I really wish New Zealand had a capable techno-evangelist such as yourself with a blank cheque to really get things moving! I’m sure the investment would pay for itself hundreds – if not thousands – of times over.

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