By Toni Williams
A group of international kite enthusiasts travelling the country converged at the weekend on Ashburton, considered the global Mecca for kite flyers.
Their common interest drew them to Ashburton company Peter Lynn Kites; started by Peter Lynn in 1973.
Since then, under Peter’s guidance and of late through Craig Hansen and Simon Chisnall, the company has gone on to set trends in kite flying around the world.
The weekend’s visitors were from Australia, Germany, England and the United States and were following the New Zealand Kite Tour 2020.
They arrived in Ashburton to tour the Peter Lynn kite factory and take part in a fun fly event at Lake Hood.
Among the international visitors to take in the factory tour were former employees Ron Reimers and Karin Gurezka, both of Hamburg, Germany; Trent Baker, of Melbourne, Australia; and Allison and Nevil Carvell, of Adelaide, Australia.
Mr Reimers, who lives in Hamburg, was drawn into kites as a 19-year-old by Peter Lynn’s invention of the modern kite buggy.
Even now he still loves flitting around on the buggy and has taken to kite surfing.
He runs a kite surfing school and a separate wakeboard cable park in Hamburg.
He is in New Zealand with his partner Kaatje van Hettinga and their son Nias, 8, who needed special dispensation to be out of school.
Mr Reimers worked at Peter Lynn Kites from 1999 to 2000 and he says it was a life-changing experience.
He has returned multiple times and keeps a backpack or two of kites at the factory for return visits.
“I have 25-year-old kites and they are still in working order,” he says, which is a sign of the quality in design and make of the Peter Lynn Kites.
It is the same for Ms Gurezka, who often visits. She too has a backpack on site but it’s full of the basics for travelling on the other side of the world.
She knew Peter and Elwyn Lynn through kites and took a sabbatical to Ashburton in 2017, working in the factory and learning the craft.
She got hooked on kites in Germany in the mid-80s when in her early 20s. It was around the time the first International Kite Festival was held in Berlin.
It’s still a hobby, she says, but one which has taken her around the world and given her a chance to meet some great people.
Australian couple Allison and Nevil Carvell are members of the Adelaide Kite Flyers Association.They met through kite flying but both took it up in the early 90s.
Mrs Carvell, when single and in her early 20s, was in a stunt flying team competing in competitions around Australia.
It was the kite buggy which also thrilled Mr Carvell. He went on to win the Australian Kite Buggy Championship title around 20 years ago.
It’s a different story for Mr Baker. He was born into the kite world; his parents, Jo and Ricky, own Kites 4 Kids in Melbourne. He has grown up around people in the kite industry and has been working at the Ashburton factory since September, learning the craft around cutting, sewing and design work.
And he’s loving it.
He said it was close to home, language was not a barrier and he had been around Peter Lynn Kites his whole life.
He also has known Craig Hansen and Simon Chisnall for many years.
“Most designers have come from or passed through here. Had some sort of experience at Peter Lynn Kites,” he says. “Peter Lynn Kites have have revolutionised the way kites are flown today. It encourages young people to fly.”
However it’s not just a hobby for children, he said. “You can buy 30 metre inflatable dragons now, it’s not just a hobby for designers and flyers.”
Simon Chisnall, of Peter Lynn Kites, said kite enthusiasts often wanted to visit the company, so they opened their doors to give an insight into how the kites were taken from concept to final design and build.