Amazing Inventions: Koru Paua Tool


A high-school student in New Zealand has invented an award-winning tool to prevent small shellfish from being killed by divers.

Diving for the shells of the edible abalone is legal in New Zealand, but they have to be 12.5cm long to be fished or they must be discarded, and levering them off the rocks for measuring means they often die anyway.

This needless waste inspired 18-year-old Mitchell Hollows, a keen diver, to invent his ‘Koru Paua’ tool. Paua is the Maori word for the mollusc (which has a mushroom-like taste) and koru means life or new growth.

Hollows used CAD design software and his school’s (South Otago High School) 3D printer to create his prototype. The tool, which is still in development, works by being placed above the mollusc, then uses parallel lasers to harmlessly gauge its exact length.

His ‘no-contact’, low-cost invention certainly impressed the judges of the 2016 ASB Bright Sparks competition, which gave him a ‘supreme innovator’ award. In the future, Hollow’s laser-tech solution could be used to prevent human interaction from damaging other forms of marine life.