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Kiwi Ingenuity in the Spotlight

Parapara/Ingenious: Innovation in Aotearoa has officially opened at the Museum of Transport and Technology’s (MOTAT).

This new exhibition space celebrates Kiwi technology, innovation and ingenuity, one collection object at a time and is a fresh addition to MOTAT’s offering following the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Parapara/Ingenious: Innovation in Aotearoa focuses on a single object from MOTAT’s collection that highlights Kiwi ingenuity. Objects displayed will either be new acquisitions, recently conserved objects or an older object with a contemporary and relevant story to tell” explains MOTAT’s Exhibitions Curator Rachel Bush. 

“We want to share these incredible innovations with our visitors as swiftly as possible, so the display will change regularly to give our visitors an appreciation of the wide variety of Kiwi technology that has been developed down the ages” 

It is therefore fitting to open this exhibition space with such an exceptional example of Kiwi innovation.   

The Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1 bike was launched this year and was designed and developed in the Waikato. It is the world’s first hydrofoil electric bike and was dreamed up by entrepreneur Guy Howard-Willis in 2011 and brought to life by bike designer Roland Alonzo.  

The hydrofoil bike embodies the Kiwi spirit of innovation and reflects our cultural and historic affinity with the waterways that surround us.     

MOTAT’s Chief Executive, Michael Frawley, sees this bike as a classic example of thinking outside the box to develop something new and exciting.  

“This display will not only inspire our audience to want to try the Manta5 but I believe it will encourage them to consider how they too could become kiwi innovators of the future.” 

The Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1 uses similar technology to New Zealand’s America’s Cup yachts, and after seven years in development the Hydrofoiler is the first bike of its kind to replicate the cycling experience on water. 

The Hydrofoiler enables riders to launch and plane through open bodies of water - from ocean shorelines to lakes and rivers. The bikes are made from strong carbon fibre and aircraft-grade aluminium, making them buoyant and light enough to carry.  

Highly manoeuvrable, the Hydrofoiler provides a workout like that of a road or mountain bike, and the 460-watt electric motor offers variable pedal assist that can be dialled up or down depending on rider preference.  

With a battery charge of up to 1 hour of total ride time, the bike can start hydroplaning in open water with just 15 pedal strokes.  

"Who knows, one day it might be in the Olympic games” enthuses Manta5 founder and creative instigator Guy Howard-Willis.  

“I can see that, it may take a while to get there, maybe I'm too ambitious, but like I say I’ve always been a dreamer.” 

"My crazy idea was a hydrofoil bike which actually meant it was part bike, but it was also part plane.” - Guy Howard-Willis, Founder of Manta5. (TedxRuakura, 2018)