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MOTAT adds Trekka to colln

A 1968 New Zealand-made Trekka has been bought by Motat – Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology. ABIGAIL DOUGHERTY/STUFF. Click here to view the video.

Todd Niall, Production-line Trekka, our only ‘native’ vehicle, in a local museum at last, Stuff, 26 April 2023

New Zealand’s only indigenous, mass-produced motor vehicle – the Trekka – has finally secured a place in a publicly owned museum.

The Trekka was an-NZ designed and built body, fitted to the chassis and mechanical components supplied by carmaker Škoda in then-communist Czechoslovakia.

Around 2500 were built in Ōtāhuhu between 1966 and 1972 when loosening import restrictions – and the subsequent arrival of Japanese vans and utes – killed off the Trekka.

It was built by Motor Holdings, which began life as a Turner family-owned business assembling and retailing mostly European makes such as VW, Fiat, and Škoda, and later Mazda and Subaru.

While some Trekkas are owned privately around the country, Motat’s purchase will secure the vehicle’s place in a public collection.

“A largely original, flat-deck Trekka – in good working order – joins the restored, prototype Trekka that came into the collection more than 40 years ago,” said Michael Frawley, Motat’s chief executive.

Motat’s transport curator Chelsea Renshaw with the newly acquired 1968 Trekka. ABIGAIL DOUGHERTY

The only other publicly-owned Trekka forms part of Michael Stevenson’s modern art installation This Is The Trekka, which represented New Zealand at the 2003 Venice art biennale.

The Trekka’s place in Škoda’s history was recognised in 2018 when the company put one in its factory museum in Mlada Boleslav, now part of the Czech Republic. That one was acquired from Australia, where 50 or so were exported in the late 1960s.

Motor Holdings produced the only NZ-designed and built production vehicle, the Trekka, in Ōtāhuhu. JOHN CATCHPOLE/SUPPLIED.

Five Trekkas were also flown to Vietnam in 1969 for civilian duties, including ambulance work with an NZ-run surgical hospital.

An ambitious export trade to Indonesia stumbled after 100 Trekka kits were sent for assembly in Java, and problems over payment scuppered further shipments.

Motat’s other Trekka variant is a prototype that it restored in the 1990s, but which has many differences to the final version which was built from December 1966.

Former Motor Holdings director and CEO, Rob Elliott reminisces about the company he first worked for 58 years ago. In 1987 production ended at the Motor Holdings car assembly plant in Otahuhu. 127,000 vehicles were built over 27 years. CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF.

There are several differences between the prototype vehicle and the production-line Trekka: the cab length was extended, the split windscreen was dispensed with as was the dual handbrake system.

The new addition was acquired from Blenheim and has lived in private collections, undercover, for the past 20 years, hence the original bodywork and good mechanical condition.

Motat said it also has links to the Otago region, where it was owned privately for 20 years.

The Collection Team hopes to be able to use it in Live Days and other public displays soon.

Todd Niall is the senior Auckland affairs reporter for Stuff and in 2004 published the book The Trekka Dynasty. He is the vehicle’s unofficial historian.