New Zealand jet boat used in Ganges-Himalayas expedition to be restored

November 2, 2016 Albear Montocchio

New Delhi: 26 October 2016

Pioneering New Zealand marine technology used in the 1977 Ocean to Sky expedition led by Sir Edmund Hillary up the Ganga will have a new lease of life, thanks to a team effort from the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi and Manas National Park in Assam.

One of the three jet boats used on the expedition, Kiwi, and donated to the Park in the 1980s will be lovingly restored to its former glory with support from the New Zealand company who built the boat, HamiltonJet. It will be displayed near the main entrance at the National Park as an important historical artefact. 

In 1977, Sir Edmund Hillary and 15 other Indian and New Zealand explorers, including Harish Sarin, Mohan Kohli, Jim Wilson and Peter Hillary, travelled from the mouth of the Ganga near Kolkata up into the Himalayas.

Three HamiltonJet boats, each fitted with 250 horsepower V8 automobile engines capable of moving at high speed even in shallow waters, helped Sir Edmund Hillary and his crew navigate the sacred waters of the Ganga. Following the successful expedition, the boats, Kiwi, plus Air India, and Ganga, were donated for wildlife conservation; Kiwi has spent the past three decades at Manas National Park.

“This boat reflects the long-standing historic ties between India and New Zealand. The legacy of Sir Edmund Hillary, who was also New Zealand’s first High Commissioner to India in the 1980s, has helped us forge closer ties with India,” says Grahame Morton, the New Zealand High Commissioner to India.

HamiltonJet is an iconic New Zealand company who pioneered the development of water jet propulsion in 1954 and since then the company’s technology has had significant commercial and defence applications worldwide. With over 40,000 waterjet units installed around the world, HamiltonJet represents the latest in waterjet propulsion technology.

Ben Reed, General Manager of HamiltonJet, is currently in India as part of the New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key’s visit. “For over 60 years water propulsion technology developed in New Zealand by HamiltonJet has been used around the world. It’s wonderful to see this iconic boat from the 1977 expedition given the recognition it deserves. HamiltonJet is proud to be part of this legacy,” says Ben.

Hiranya Kumar Sarma, Director of Manas National Park, says he is grateful for the assistance to revive this important piece of history associated with Manas National Park. “The boat was of great use to the Park authorities and it is befitting that it be restored to its original glory and displayed prominently by us.”

Prime Minister John Key is in India exploring business opportunities for New Zealand and India and promoting New Zealand as a top education destination.

Article courtesy of NZTE

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