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101 Ingenious Kiwis

How New Zealanders Changed The World

Tony Williams

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Bill Hamilton farmer/engineer. Bought a Sunbeam race car on a trip to England. In 1925 he became first person in Australasia to beat 100 mph, and then set Australasian record of 109 mph. He wanted to start an engineering company but needed a lathe. His wife got a cheque from an auntie, but she wanted a hen house. So she told husband she'd buy him a lathe if he built her a hen house. Bill proceeded to set an Australasian record for building hen houses.

Invented a lot of earthmoving equipment, particularly a tractor that could be either a bulldozer or a top loader. But he's most famous for jet boats. Prop boats useless in shallow South Island high country rivers. He put car engines into plywood boats to work a pump, taking in water from front of boat then pushing out the back. In 1959 his boats made it up the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, something which had never been done before.

John Hart was a Manawatu plumber who invented the thermette. Light a little fire in the base and it heated water in walls of inner cylinder as well as base. So wind didn't knock out fire, and you got a cup of tea much faster. Patented it in 1930; it is still sold today.

Jim McDonald and Bryan Bartley made a better rock crusher. Rocks were broken up by hitting them against a steel plate, or by squeezing them like a nutcracker. But both these were very hard on the equipment. So the pair invented a big drum which rolled rocks around, crushing themselves. The drum was lined with crushed stone. They are still manufactured in Matamata for sale worldwide.

Barry Bricknell, the potter, dealt with official council or govt letters by stamping them "UNSATISFACTORY" and then mailing them back unopened.

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