Alistair Campbell of Callaghan Innovation and his team started in 2004 in a different way to other researchers around the world. As engineers rather than mathematicians they looked to develop an engineering solution that would be robust enough not to get smashed and sink - the fate of most early attempts.
Says Campbell 'We started dreaming stuff up in the shower, watching the water flowing'. While their overseas rivals were testing small models in wave pools, Campbell and his team loaded their models onto trailers and tested them in their wave pool - Lyttleton Harbour. And they were able to prove that not only did their eventual solution deliver power, but that it survived the ocean. Most wave power generators capture either the up-and-down motion of the waves (heave) or the back-and-forward motion (surge).
What's clever and different about this Kiwi approach is that their massive float spins between its uprights, capturing not only the heave, but also the surge. Originally called WET-NZ, the invention is now licensed to an American company called NWEI who, along with New Zealand company EHL, carried out successful testing in Oregon in 2013 and are testing it with the US Navy in Hawaii in 2014.