Idealog's Guide to Tauranga: Ones to watch

Tauranga has many unsung innovation heroes, such as world leading urologist and Head of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board Clinical School, Peter Gilling. He co-developed a world-first technique to treat prostate cancer in the 1990s, which is now used across the world. This year, he was made Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit based on his pioneering research and surgeries using robotics. Here’s some other clever individuals to keep an eye on.

George & Willy

George Wilkins and William McCallum are the brains behind George & Willy – a furniture design company that was born out of the pair wanting to make stuff. Wilkins and McCallum have since built a nationwide following for their simple design ethos and range of products, from brown paper rollers to desks. McCallum says he and Wilkins simply made items they felt were necessary, based off their own needs and experiences. The pair recently nabbed the Emerging Exporter of the Year award at the Bay of Plenty ExportNZ Awards.

GoodBuzz Beverage Co 

GoodBuzz Beverage Co makes Booch – a non-alcoholic probiotic soft drink commonly known as kombucha. Founders Amber and Alex Campbell have mastered a magical brew that tastes just like a smooth cider without any of the downsides of drinking the real thing. Positioning the product as a ‘real brew’ alternative for those opting out, instead of attempting to join the already cluttered health shelf, the product is flying off the bar, leading to new product lines and plans to expand internationally.

Hallmarine Design

Purekraft boats are produced by Mount Maunganui boat design company, Hallmarine Design. CEO Jarrod Hall created a type of boat that is shipped in a box and assembled by the customer, a bit like IKEA furniture. Kits are sent as a flat pack for cheaper shipping costs, with the option for recipients to tinker around, follow the instructions and build the boat themselves, or hire a qualified boat builder to do it. The concept has been a hit at boat shows around the country.

Rhondium

​Tauranga dental technology company Rhondium has been making waves for its cutting-edge technology in dental crowns. It was founded by self-confessed ‘serial inventor’ and dental guru Simon McDonald. Instead of patients needing to visit the dentist initially to get a tooth impression taken, its tech allows a dentist to customise pre-made crowns then and there, avoiding the costs and work usually needed by a dental technician. It has since been adopted by more than 20 percent of dental practices in New Zealand and is sold in the US, Australia, Canada, Europe and a number of other countries.