Australian & NZ Motorcycles

Maori Motorcycles

Maori were motorcycles produced from 1914 to 1919 by Zealandia Motor Works, London NW, to a design by A. R. Bannister from New Zealand.

The machines were intended to cope with the road conditions in New Zealand. They had a 292cc JAP engine with a variable gear mechanism built onto the drive-side crankcase. They were fitted with belt final-drive and Saxon spring-forks, and although they appeared to be conventional, they were very sturdy. To shield the rider from mud, the motorcycles were fitted with footboards.

Some 20 machines were built in England by two New Zealanders, Bannister and G Johns, but sadly all but one were lost when the first shipment met with disaster at sea in 1914 - the ship was torpedoed. [1] Further production was halted by the war.

The distributors were to be Johns, Bannister and Co. Ltd. of Gisborne, New Zealand. One machine made it to Gisborne, and was used for some years before disappearing for ever, supposedly buried in an orchard. The story goes that this sole survivor was rescued from the sinking ship and put into a lifeboat. And then returned to England. And then sent to New Zealand. Where it was buried in an orchard. Uh huh.

But there is a photograph of it, albeit rather fuzzy, in the NZ national archives. So at least some of the story is true.

Dave Ransom in NZ was attempting to build a replica in 2013, according to an article in

N.B. The M.A. Bull book states "the boat was wrecked at Capetown, according to G. Maynard Johns, son of the owner." It also says that "George Johns won handicap races with the Maori in New Zealand."

Sources: Graces Guide,; New Zealands Motorcycle Heritage, book one 1899, by Maureen A. Bull, published 1981.

Sat, 4th March 2023
An interesting article on this make can be found in the book 'New Zealand's Motorcycle Heritage", book one 1899,by Maureen A. Bull published 1981. (copy attached)
Ian Bade

Mon, 04 Sep 2017
kiwifantail54 at
Maori 1911
My friend here in New Zealand has what is believed to be the only Maori motorcycle in the world left,it has a 1911 JAP engine,does anyone have any knowledge of the model or the engine,its a single cylinder ,belt drive to the rear wheel.
Gareme Duckett
New Plymouth New Zealand

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