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Hawkes Bay is launch pad for cutting edge design firm

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kate de Lautour

A recent trip to the world’s biggest airshow Osh Kosh, to launch the design of the two seater helicopter Auroa, has propelled Ahuriri based design company Axia to the top of a highly competitive sector.

Originally from Napier, Andrew Kersley was lured back to Hawke’s Bay, from the UK, with lifestyle in mind. Having worked for a design bureau in London managing projects including the rollout of the third generation Apple Stores across Europe and working with clients including Sony, Selfridges and Rio Tinto, Kersley was well placed to set up a business in New Zealand.

Hawke’s Bay seemed like a good option, with wife Anneke also originally from the region. Kersley teamed up with local designers Ian Harris, now based in Auckland, and Nick Gledhill and together they set up AXIA Design Group.

 “The Bay was a really desirable choice for me, having both our families here as well as the lifestyle, fishing, diving, good sports clubs, bars and weather.

“Plus having a business partner based in Auckland has made working up that end of the country when needed, a bit easier.”

And while work comes in from all over New Zealand, Kersley says Hawke’s Bay has been good for business.

“We’ve formed some really substantial long term relationships with fantastic companies doing really innovative things in their industries.”

Companies including Equiptec, Hotshot Sports, Senator Boats, Napier Tool and Die and Waipak are all on the Axia books.

Outside of the Bay, one of the team’s biggest projects to date, has been the design of the Auroa two seater helicopter, launched at Osh Kosh in Wisconsin in August this year.

The design input by AXIA has enabled Auroa to advance commercialisation of the helicopter with rendered images of the craft's exterior, interior and systems allowing investors to view and experience the craft before manufacture.

More than 600,000 visited the Airshow and 40 orders were placed for the helicopter.

“Essentially the company was hoping to get five to ten expressions of interest which would have justified progression into the manufacturing phase, with a target of manufacturing 20 a year, so to get initial interest of 40 is excellent.”


Work with Senator boats on the Solidworks 3D CAD software has again put Axia in the spotlight with Kersley one of the guest speakers at the Marine Industry Boat Show in Auckland last week.

And it’s not all about boy’s toys.  Kersley’s team are also leading design projects involving medical implants, both for humans and animals – projects that could transform everyday medical procedures, he says.

“There are so many opportunities for everyday medical procedures to be improved simply by utilizing design and engineering tools and techniques that are used every day in our field.”

Effectively the Axia team are helping to solve the manufacturing challenges surrounding implants, meaning they can be manufactured from materials like titanium and cobalt chromium, cost effectively and quickly. 

“It’s nice to be involved with projects that are truly helping people and although it’s a very progressive process I hope that it will become more main stream.”

The company has recently moved into high-spec office space in Ossian Street, Ahuriri.

“The space is used as an art exhibition showcasing Hawke’s Bay artists four times a year which means we get to look at fantastic locally- produced inspiration all year round.

We also share the facility with like- minded people in complimentary fields which broadens the range of services that can offered to our clients even further.”

Find out more about Axia’s work at www.axia.co.nz

Art exhibition details at www.huihui.co.nz