Ernest and his wife Hannah Hayes emigrated to NZ in the mid 1882 from England and settled in Oturehua. Intially working as a Millright in one of the flour mills here, Ernest’s real achievments began when he began inventing things to make life easier on their 150 acre farm.
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From windmills to rabbit bait cutters, the Hayes inventions quickly spread around the country and overseas. Perhaps his most well known tool is his refinement of J Reid’s fencing wire strainer, perfected in 1924, and is still used around the world today.
As the business grew, so did their family and although they had nine children, Hannah became one of NZ’s first travelling saleswoman biking all over the Maniatoto, and McKenzie areas selling their products.
Their factory on the farm was powered by Windmill and Pelton Wheel from water running down the hill and after initially living in a mud hut, later they built a large villa which they also powered from their factory.
The Hayes engineeing works has been maintained by the family and is still in really good shape.
The various buildings for Dairy, Laundry, the workshops and the original Mud Cottage that they lived in is now Hannahs Cafe.
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A magic place and its really nice to see how they lived and where one of New Zealands great inventers and his saleswoman wife lived and worked.