Celebrating 90 years in New Zealand

Celebrating 90 years in New Zealand

This year (2023), ABB in New Zealand has achieved the significant milestone of being part of the country's electricity and manufacturing industries for 90 years. We look back at a few highlights of ABB’s long history in New Zealand.

The founding company for ABB in New Zealand was ASEA, which was incorporated as a subsidiary of ASEA Electric NZ Limited on 3rd March 1933. This was not the beginning however, as ASEA had been selling products to New Zealand for many years, prior to 1933, with the first delivery of a transformer to a Wellington customer in 1898, and the supply of hydro generators in the 1920s.

ABB reaches the 90 year milestone in New Zealand

In 1925, ASEA supplied a 200 kW generator for the Wairere Power Station in the King Country. A second machine of 250 kW was delivered in 1938. Other early ABB products of note for the hydro industry included the supply of three 18,000 kVA generators for the Arapuni Power station in 1930, and a 23,333 kVA generator for Atiamuri in 1956.

  • Charles Brown (left) and Walter Boveri (right), just 26 and 28 – when they founded what would become a global enterprise.
  • This is probably the earliest known photograph of ASEA equipment in NZ.
  • 1960: Working with the New Zealand ASEA

ASEA’s HVDC technology was an integral part of the ±250kV, 600 MW HVDC Interisland Link between Benmore in the South Island and Haywards in 1965. This was not only the third link of its kind in the world, but also unique because the voltage and current were considerably higher than had ever been attempted.

In 1992, grid owner Transpower upgraded the HVDC link to 1240 MW. ABB built the new converter stations for this and supplied and laid the new submarine cable across Cook Strait.

In 1988 ASEA merged with BBC to form the new company, ABB with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

More recently, ABB has been involved in the following projects:

  • ABB provides an e-mobility solution to Audi New Zealand
  • ABB partner with Shape Energy to disrupt the UPS market in NZ
  • ABB provides an e-mobility solution for Z Energy
  • Te Papa utilises ABB’s Tmax T Molded Case Circuit-Breakers to ensure reliable power and protection of their Museum
  • ABB and Watercare help tackle the water drought issue in Auckland, providing an additional 50 million litres of water a day for the community
  • ABB Henderson manufacturing facility
  • ABB Grafton and Mt Wellington teams
  • ABB Napier manufacturing facility
  • Replacement of Genesis Energy's control system for their hydro electric power network covering five power stations in the North Island
  • Installation of a dynamic positioning system to National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)’s RV Tangaroa vessel – making it the first system of its kind in New Zealand
  • Design, installation and commissioning of traction substations to power Wellington’s recent electric rail upgrade
  • Supply of key products, including transformers, circuit breakers, low- and high-voltage switchgear and relays for Contact Energy’s new Te Mihi reinjection pump station
  • Active voltage conditioner technology to protect NIWA's climate modeling supercomputer and the makers of Avatar and other blockbuster movies, Weta Digital’s post-production facility
  • Static frequency conversion technology to Meridian Energy for the world’s southernmost wind farm in Antarctica
  • ABB opening of the Centre of Excellence facility in Napier, which specialises in manufacturing power conditioning products
  • ABB selling its Power Grids business to Hitachi Energy in 2019
  • ABB selling its Motors and Generators workshops to ETEL in 2021

ABB's Country Holding Officer for New Zealand, Ken Mulcock commented on the recent milestone. "On behalf of ABB in New Zealand, I would like to thank our employees, customers, suppliers, and partners for the ongoing support you have provided throughout the decades. Without you, we would not have achieved what we have today."

ABB has been established in New Zealand for 90 years and employs around 300 people across 5 locations nationwide. In addition to sales and service locations, ABB has two manufacturing facilities in New Zealand located in Henderson, Auckland and Napier.

ABB is a technology leader in electrification and automation, enabling a more sustainable and resource-efficient future. The company’s solutions connect engineering know-how and software to optimize how things are manufactured, moved, powered and operated. Building on more than 130 years of excellence, ABB’s 105,000 employees are committed to driving innovations that accelerate industrial transformation.


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