This year marks the 100th anniversary of Brittain Wynyard’s distribution of world-leading sports, outdoor, and lifestyle brands to Kiwis. The NZ company imports goods from around the globe and runs sales teams in its various divisions, looking ahead to the new season's ranges, placing indent orders for each of its retailers, and undertaking regular stock refills of existing lines. Significant time and energy are also invested into developing products for Kiwi conditions and consumers.
Amongst household names such as Asics, Birkenstock, Wilson, and Coleman, visitors to this website will be very familiar with another of their flagship brands – Daiwa. Like Brittain Wynyard, Daiwa has a rich history, with its first spinning reel rolling off the assembly line back in 1958. Since then, the company has grown into one of the world's largest and most influential tackle brands.
Chris Brittain, managing director at Brittain Wynyard, holds the brand in high regard:
“For more than 30 years Daiwa, as a high-quality technology leader, has sat very comfortably in the Brittain Wynyard stable of brands and has anchored our Outdoor business. In recent years, Daiwa’s product development and brand momentum has generated considerable growth and we look forward to exciting years ahead as that momentum translates into an increasingly meaningful share of the NZ fishing market. We are very proud to be part of the Daiwa team.”
I fondly remember using Daiwa gear as a kid – including the classic Sealine SL30SH reels and nostalgic fibreglass VIP rods – designs so good they didn’t need to change for many years. However, Daiwa never rests on its laurels and is always pushing the boundaries.
Continuous innovation is a fundamental part of Daiwa’s culture, resulting in a long list of product features, designs and materials that have become the standards for, or the envies of, today’s fishing tackle industry. For example, Daiwa developed the first ‘open-faced reel’ (the blueprint for pretty much every modern spin reel), was the first manufacturer in the world to incorporate graphite into reel bodies and rotors, introduced water and dust-resistant reel design through its Magseal technology, and created the Monocoque one-piece frame body that improved compactness and lightness without compromising improvements in strength, power, and weather sealing.
Another pillar Daiwa prides itself on is quality control. The majority of Daiwa reels are manufactured in Daiwa-owned factories, ensuring a high level of quality assurance with hand assembly and individual testing prior to being boxed.
Brittain Wynyard took over Daiwa in the late 1980s – a time of share market crashes, quirky music, and voluminous hair. One of Brittain Wynyard’s veterans, John Elliot, recalls the changes he’s seen in NZ’s tackle industry.
“In the seventies, ragoon and split cane rods were followed by solid and hollow glass rods. Most rods were manufactured in NZ due to a restriction on imported rods. The restriction was lifted in the eighties and rod ranges became more specialised.
“Reels in particular have had major improvements over the years. Things like lighter, stronger materials, lever drags, two speeds, high speeds, higher drag outputs, one-piece frames, electric reels – and Daiwa has always been there at the forefront,” says John.
With a shift in sales focus over time from general sporting stores to buying groups and internet retailers, Daiwa NZ has increasingly invested in research and development for NZ-specific applications and strived to engage consumers directly.
“Our New Zealand rod range has been specifically selected to suit the varying requirements of NZ anglers. From finesse angling to heavy-duty offshore work, we have most categories covered,” says Daiwa NZ’s Fishing Manager, Scott Malcon.
Around 70% of Daiwa’s rod range is customised to NZ conditions, with names incorporating colloquial Kiwi terms like the ‘Moocher’ being a dead giveaway. Local research and development even filter down to terminal tackle and lures, such as the Bait Junkie softbait colour schemes including ‘Smashed Kina’ and ‘Killer Kutai’.
“With help from our modern brand ambassadors – anglers like Ben Brown, JE Wilds, The Lateral Line, Tony Wood, and In Joon Park – we’re able to deliver consistently engaging content across all our digital touchpoints,” Scott says.
The brand culture, high-quality imagery and videography seem to be working – I suppose there’s no better sales pitch for products than seeing them in action delivering results (i.e., catching big fish)! This real-world application by some of NZ’s best anglers also provides the opportunity for prototype gear to be tested thoroughly before it is released into the domestic market. An example is the range of Saltiga Tournament Game Rods, available in straight or bent butt across three actions catering to Kiwi gamefishers, that have been tested by Ben Brown on numerous marlin and tuna around the country.
Scott says Daiwa is a brand that caters to all Kiwi anglers, whether they’re into bluewater beasts like Ben Brown, niche methods like egi or canal fishing, or simply good ol’ fashioned bait fishing jaunts.
“Although Daiwa is often perceived as having a focus on lure fishing, we’re committed to improving the experience of traditional Kiwi fishing methods such as straylining.”
The recently released Free Swimmer BR, a Bite’N’Run spinning reel featuring a secondary drag system that allows fish to take the bait and run before setting the hook, was five years in the making. A collaboration between Daiwa USA, Daiwa Australia, Daiwa NZ and Japanese engineers, the Free Swimmer brings a modern design into the Kiwi market at a competitive price point.
“We had to be 100% sure it would be up to the task, giving the Daiwa engineers a NZ-specific testing formula that represented years and years of heavy, regular use,” adds Scott.
The demanding testing and refinement resulted in the Free Swimmer having a carbon composite frame with comprehensive rubber seals, 5/1 bearings, 10kg of drag, and a range of proven Daiwa features such as Air Rotor, ATD Drag, and Tough Digigear. Incredibly, Scott tells me more Free Swimmers have been sold in our country than in the US, so they must have got the product right for our local waters!
The current tagline – Feel Alive – sums up Daiwa NZ’s philosophy that Kiwi anglers should be able to experience the exhilaration of fishing with complete confidence they have the best gear for the job.
You can find out more about Daiwa and their full gamut of products for Kiwi anglers here.
- NZ Fishing News