Initial development of the WET-NZ was conducted by Callaghan Innovation (formerly Industrial Research Limited), which is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute. Since its inception in 2006, the technology has advanced from initial concept and micro-scale modeling stage to open ocean deployments. Recognizing the potential of the US market, NWEI began collaborating with Callaghan in 2010 to further develop and optimize the technology.
Under the New Zealand program led by Callaghan, three WET-NZ prototypes were deployed for open ocean testing. The first device was a 1/4 scale unit called the Proof of Concept (PoC) device, and in 2006 it became the first marine energy conversion system (wave or tidal) to be deployed in New Zealand waters. Its successor, the Pre Seed Accelerator Fund (PSAF) device, was also a 1/4 scale unit and was deployed for over five months in 2011.
With support from the government of New Zealand, Callaghan completed the fabrication of the 1:2 scale, 20 kW Marine Energy Deployment Fund (MEDF) device in July 2011. After three months of testing off the coast of Akaroa, New Zealand, the device was transported to Wellington. After refurbishing and upgrading the device, it was redeployed at the Moa Point test site off the South Wellington coast in May 2012 for a two year open ocean test period.