At Komatsu New Zealand, we have been supplying and supporting Komatsu equipment to Kiwi contractors, quarries, miners, farmers and other end users since 1964 — although stories persist that Komatsu machines were being sold in New Zealand from the mid-1950s.
Today we are a strong member of the worldwide Komatsu family, with sales, service, support and parts facilities throughout New Zealand — and able to draw on the global resources of Komatsu to ensure the ongoing success of our customers.
We are very proud of our deep engagement with the New Zealand community, through our dedicated management and staff, our service and support partners, and of course our customers and the industry sectors they serve.
People Powered Technology: Putting our people at the heart of our business
While Komatsu is recognised as a world leader in the technology behind state-of-the-art earthmoving, mining, construction and utility equipment, above all, we realise that there’s one thing that makes a good machine a great one: people.
Our vision is to be an indispensable partner to our customers throughout New Zealand through our brand philosophy.
For us, the key to achieving this is by putting our employees at the heart of our business, because we know that to sustainably grow Komatsu we need the trust of our customers – trust which can only be gained through engaged employees who are both valued and respected.
People power our ideas, they drive our development, they stand behind the innovations that lead to advances like SMARTCONSTRUCTION, intelligent Machine Control, autonomous haulage systems and hybrid technology.
Our people have the knowledge to provide the service that supports the machines, through innovative fleet management systems that mean we’re proactive with our customers, backed by the support of our global family – so that we can continue helping our customers best optimise their Komatsu machines.
It’s what focuses us and what keeps our feet on the ground; it reflects our commitment to our people, our customers and our business.
It’s behind our commitment to making Komatsu a great place in which to work – and with which to partner.
We pride ourselves on having people who are passionate and committed about providing support to our customers that puts their business first.
We know that by being an integral partner in their business we earn their trust and build a long term relationship that is always more beneficial than quick fixes.
Komatsu’s approach – one that will take us and our people forward – is to redefine what success means to our customers, moving beyond the traditional supplier/customer relationship to become a valued partner for their business.
A brief history of Komatsu in New Zealand
Komatsu’s “official” history in New Zealand begins in 1964 when machinery dealer John Ward happened to see a photo of a Komatsu machine on the cover of the US-based Time magazine.
Shortly after, while on a fishing trip to Japan, he visited Tokyo to ask Komatsu for the New Zealand franchise or agency.
Komatsu Ltd advised John that the company already had a representative – Five Star Motors in Otahuhu, Auckland, a vehicle assembly plant and sales outlet owned by the Turner Family.
Five Star Motors were just that, and not marketing people at all, so had never sold a single Komatsu in the decade or so it had been representing the brand.
John was very keen to see Komatsu reach its potential in New Zealand, but being unable to finance a deal to buy out Five Star Motors distributorship, persevered – ultimately forming a partnership with his existing business partner Les Hill and Five Star’s owner Noel Turner.
Komatsu Ltd agreed to an arrangement under which Five Star Motors would continue to import the machines while Ward and Hill would become the sole agents for Komatsu, working out of Rotorua, the country’s major forestry centre in the middle of the North Island.
Most of their work was associated with forestry due to previous business relationships.
Ward Hill Ltd was established on April 10, 1964 and the company became the face of Komatsu in New Zealand.
Ward and Hill immediately bought two D80 dozers, one fitted with hydraulic angle blade and the other with cable controls, along with an RS60 scraper, which arrived in the country in 1965.
Just a year later, Five Star Motors was renamed Motor Holdings Ltd, taking back the sales franchise from Ward Hill – although retaining both John and Len in management roles for a number of years.
This was a very successful operation, and in fact in both 1967 and 1968 Komatsu outsold its arch-rival in bulldozer sales.
Unfortunately Motor Holdings then went through a rather tumultuous period, passing through several owners in a series of somewhat convoluted exercises, during which time Komatsu sales in New Zealand significantly declined.
However, in late 1987, Motor Holdings (Komatsu) Ltd (MHK) was established, remaining the New Zealand Komatsu distributor for the next 14 years.
Then in April 2001, NS Komatsu, having been highly successful as Komatsu’s Australian distributor throughout the previous decade, expanded into New Zealand, and taking over MHK’s premises, staff, facilities and well-established service agent network.
Only two months later, NS Komatsu was transformed into Komatsu Australia – and a fully owned part of Komatsu Ltd – embarking on the next phase in the journey that has made Komatsu a significant player in the construction, mining, quarrying and agricultural sectors throughout New Zealand and Australia.