Providing automation and power solutions in New Zealand for 80 years

In 2013 ABB in New Zealand achieved the significant milestone of being part of the country's electricity and manufacturing industries for 80 years. 


The founding company for ABB in New Zealand was ASEA, which was incorporated as a subsidiary of ASEA Electric NZ Limited on 9th March 1933. This was not the beginning, however, as ASEA had been selling products to New Zealand for many years with the first delivery of a transformer to a Wellington customer in 1898 and the supply of hydro generators in the 1920s.

We look back at a few highlights of ABB’s long history in New Zealand.


This is probably the earliest known photograph of ASEA equipment in NZ.

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.


ASEA’s HVDC technology was an integral part 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 merge to form the new company, ABB with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

 ASEA Highlights

  • The first 3-phase motor connected to the New Zealand Government’s hydro-electric supply was an ASEA motor. 
  • The first synchronous induction motor ever used in New Zealand was an ASEA machine.
  • Mokauiti, one of the first remote controlled power stations in New Zealand, was engineered by ASEA in New Zealand using ASEA control equipment.
  • Most of the original electrics at Whakatane Board Mills were supplied by ASEA.
  • The first robot to be used in the motor vehicle industry in New Zealand was supplied by ASEA.

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

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

Select region / language