Hayes' Engineering Works

39 Hayes Road, Oturehua

  • Hayes' Engineering Works.
    Copyright: Grant Sheehan. Taken By: Grant Sheehan. Date: 31/01/2001.
  • Hayes' Engineering Works. Homestead. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans . Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 21/03/2016.
  • Hayes' Engineering Works. Stables and forage storage. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 30/07/2015.
  • Hayes' Engineering Works. Workshop interior. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com .
    Copyright: Shellie Evans . Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 21/03/2016.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 330 Date Entered 26th November 1981


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Secs 38 and 42 Blk XIII Blackstone SD (CT OT9B/1271, NZ Gazette, 1980, p.3881), Otago Land District, and the buildings and structures associated with Hayes Engineering Works, and its fittings and fixtures and the following chattel identified in the Hayes Cataloguing Project. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Legal description

Secs 38 and 42 Blk XIII Blackstone SD (CT OT9B/1271, NZ Gazette, 1980, p.3881), Otago Land District.

Location description

Located at the outskirts of Oturehua, south of the settlement off the Ida Valley-Omakau Road.


Hayes’ Engineering Works is a remarkable historic site located amidst the rugged landscape of Central Otago at the edge of the small settlement of Oturehua. Ernest Hayes came to New Zealand from the England in 1884. Hayes was a millwright by training, used to working with machinery and their power systems. He established his engineering workshop in 1895 close to the Ida Valley Flour Mill in which he had earlier installed the milling equipment.

The Hayes family lived in a small mud brick cottage and Ernest erected a forge in a schist building in which he came up with his first inventions, such as the Lightning Pollard Cutter. The Works grew incrementally with the enterprise. Electric power was generated from a DC generator driven by a belt drive from a Pelton wheel, itself turned by water brought from a race across the higher ground to the west, and to the Pelton wheel by a system of flumes. The Pelton wheel also drove a diverse range of machine tools: lathes, cutters, drills, saws – from a reticulated system of shafts and wheels throughout the building. The family built themselves a comfortable mud brick homestead around 1920 and lived there until the Works shifted to Templeton in the 1950s. Doug Smith (and his wife, Olive (nee Hayes) took over the property in the 1950s. The Works operated as a local engineering concern until the 1970s. The historic value of the property was recognised at this time and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust took over the Works in 1980.

The Hayes’ House and many of the Works buildings are built of mud brick, reflecting the vernacular architecture of this arid region where timber was a rare commodity. The complex of buildings includes those structures associated with the Works (the factory – with its power transmission system and machinery in working order, office and associated structures) and the Hayes’ House and the buildings which were related to the domestic and agricultural side of the Hayes’ lives. These include a stables, dairy, cow byre and the like, as well as the features built for the garden of the homestead.

The Hayes’ complex of buildings is a very rare and special survivor representing the early twentieth-century heritage of engineering – a rural engineering works which manufactured products that have become household names in agricultural equipment – wire strainers, gates and other implements. With its machinery in working order, reflecting Ernest Hayes’ skill and background as a mill wright, the Works are a fascinating complex which provides visitors with a first-hand experience of how such a plant was powered and the means by which the products were made. The vast collection of artefacts adds immensely to the story. The domestic story, with its own innovations provided by the Hayes’ family’s fertile minds as illustrated in the Hayes’ House gives a vivid picture of the lives of this lively family.

Hayes Engineering Works is notable for the range of buildings and artefacts which have survived from the period of operation of the works. It is also remarkable as an illustration of how well simple materials can endure for long periods in a dry climate. Together the Hayes’ House and the Hayes’ Engineering Works provide special insight into the operation of this family business, working much as it did when Ernest Hayes powered up the first machine.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Hayes Complex’s history illustrates the development of the rural economy in the late nineteenth century until its closure in the 1970s. The break-up of pastoralism and the subsequent development of farming led to the growth of companies which produced agricultural equipment, such as Hayes Engineering Works. The company’s on-going development of products such as wire strainers, fencing standards, gates and other items illustrate the changing history of farm technology.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

The grouping of buildings at the Hayes Complex are built of local materials and their simple forms and relationship with each other, set in the barren Central Otago landscape give the place aesthetic significance.

Architectural Significance or Value

The Hayes Complex has architectural significance as a grouping of buildings of the rural vernacular style of Central Otago. The buildings reflect the range of activities that took place - from residential buildings, farming and agriculture, to engineering. The use of local materials (mud brick and stone) suited to the arid environment is also typical of the Central Otago vernacular. The Hayes’ family resourcefulness and frugality meant that the buildings changed only as required to allow the development of the Works, so the changes reflect the functioning of the Works.

Technological Significance or Value

The Hayes Engineering Works and its associated late nineteenth century and early twentieth century light engineering power system and equipment are special examples of New Zealand’s industrial heritage. The complex demonstrates the development over time of an innovative family-based engineering enterprise which was responsible for the production of a raft of farm tools and equipment. The Works themselves have special technological significance providing a rare surviving example of an early twentieth century engineering works with its drive system still in working condition. The huge collection of artefacts adds to the technological significance, providing a special record of the development of the Hayes enterprise from the late nineteenth century through to the mid twentieth century.

Many of tools and equipment have become standard farm items throughout New Zealand, In the case of the Hayes smooth grip parallel wire strainer and the triplex wire strainer, these items have become ubiquitous to the nation’s farming industry and provide insight into the technologies which developed to support New Zealand’s farmers.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

The history of the Hayes family and their development of this family business reflects the change in farming practices in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a representative aspect of New Zealand’s history. Hayes products were designed to meet the needs of farmers and became a household name.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

The esteem in which the Hayes’ Engineering Works is held is shown through the acquisition of the property by New Zealand Historic Places Trust in recognition of its special significance.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

The Hayes’ Engineering Works and the Hayes’ House are open to the public and onsite interpretation provides an opportunity for public education.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

The Hayes’ Engineering Works have special significance as an early twentieth century engineering works still in running order. The power transmission system and the machinery which manufactured the Hayes’ products has great significance as a rare survivor such a system.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

While the building types at Hayes’ Engineering Works and House are not unique in Central Otago, the Works with its operating power transmission system and machinery make it a rare and special survivor representing the operation of an early twentieth century engineering works.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

The complex of buildings associated with the Hayes’ Engineering Works is a historical setting in itself, with the range of buildings set within landscaped grounds. In addition the Hayes’ complex has links to the adjoining flour mill, and the water race system which powered the works, located on adjoining land. Its location next to the railway alignment is an important reminder of the significance of the associated transport networks which played a vital role in taking Hayes’ products to the world.


It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place.

The Hayes’ complex of buildings is a very rare and special survivor representing the early twentieth century heritage of engineering - a rural engineering works which manufactured products that have become household names in agricultural equipment - wire strainers, gates and other implements. With its machinery in operation, reflecting Ernest Hayes’ skill and background as a mill wright, the Works is a fascinating operation which provides visitors with a first-hand experience of how such a plant was powered and the manufacture of the products themselves. The vast collection of artefacts adds immensely to the story. The domestic story, with its own innovations provided by the Hayes’ family’s fertile minds as illustrated in the Hayes’ House gives a vivid picture of the lives of this lively family.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Rough Ridge

The spectacular arid harsh area of Central Otago, blisteringly hot in summer and bitterly cold in winter, with its rocky outcrops and tussock covered ranges, was an area of food gathering (including moa processing), and silcrete quarry sites for Maori. Silcrete quarries and working areas were located on the slopes of Rough Ridge.

It was pastoral resources and gold that drew Europeans to this area of Otago, with Ida Valley Station one of the early runs. The small settlement of Rough Ridge grew up at the foot of the Rough Ridge Ranges at the western edge of the Maniototo Plains, around the gold reefs which were opened up in the Ida Valley in the late 1860s, at the foot of the Ranges. There was no gold rush to the area as the reefs were small and difficult to mine, and needed more capital than many miners had. Coal was also mined, with the first coal-pit opened up in 1870 near the Idaburn. A small settlement grew in the area around Rough Ridge and Idaburn. From the mid-1870s planning was underway for the Central Otago Railway, with the route from, Rough Ridge to Clyde survey nearly completed at the end of 1878, with the route planned to go through Rough Ridge and the Ida Valley. The railway opened the country allowing for transport of people and goods, and also provided the route for telegraph - another important link for people like Ernest Hayes, whose products and ideas drew in his English background and international ideas in the engineering field.

The Hayes Family at Rough Ridge

Ernest Hayes (1851-1933) was born in Warwickshire where, after leaving school, he was apprenticed as a millwright at “Messrs Pinfold Engineers and Millwrights”. This is possibly the workshop of J.D. Pinfold in Rugby (relatively nearby), which was still advertising services in the 1870s as “Millwright, Engineer, and Ironfounder’ and who had patented stone and metal grist mills as well as brick making machines.

Millwright work was a developing occupation in the nineteenth century. After 1700 wind and watermills were built in increasing numbers and were the largest machines constructed until then, and the profession of ‘millwright’ emerged to erect and service them. A history of engineering describes the millwright as ‘a king of jack of all trades, who could, with equal facility work at the lathe, the anvil or the carpenter’s bench.’ Millwrights worked with wood and metal and were ‘concerned with the practical application of power to industrial processes.’ They developed a range of skills, including a good deal of practical mathematics and could calculate the strength and power of machines, and draw in plan and section. Initially they carried their own tools with them and built machinery on site, but later established workshops and built production machinery – such as looms and spinning frames, as well as power sources like water wheels. Making machinery required new tools, and the trades of pattern making and turning and fitting developed. Versatility was an essential element of the profession, and the developing profession of engineer (of which millwrights were a subset) were practical men ‘able to harness a wide variety of skills to complete innovative projects.’ Ernest Hayes, then, brought with him a range of practical skills based on adaptability and practical innovations which included the ability to make production machinery, and probably knowledge of patenting.

Ernest married Hannah Eleanor Pearson (c.1862-1946) in February 1882 and in August of that year, with baby Llewellyn, boarded the Taranaki, arriving at Port Chalmers in November. Following his uncle Josiah Jones to Central Otago, he worked at Jones’ Vincent Flour Mill, situated at Chatto Creek. In 1884 they shifted to Rough Ridge (now Oturehua) where Ernest was employed to fit out and manage the Ida Valley Flour Mill of George Turnbull, where he worked as a miller.

In August 1887 the Hayes acquired the lease of the 94 acre block at Rough Ridge, which, if his children’s letters to the Otago Witness are accurate, was called Echo Farm. It is assumed that at this time they either built or moved into the small mud brick cottage, around which would grow the Hayes Engineering Works. The Hayes had nine children between 1881 and 1900, of which Llewellyn, Bernard, Stanley, Gilbert and Irving were involved in the works. Llewellyn’s son Lesley, and Stanley’s son Clive carried on the family tradition.

The Hayes children were educated by Hannah Hayes and worked on their lessons every day. Lessons included composition, and it is through their early lessons in letter writing that we get a glimpse into the Hayes’ home life. The Hayes children were encouraged to write to the children’s page of the Otago Witness ‘Dot’s Little Folks’. Son Llewellyn wrote in 1891 describing his Christmas presents, showing encouragement from home in things mechanical – receiving a clock-work figure of two sawyers and an engine (as well as practical presents such as a wheelbarrow and a dog whistle) The girls requested names for kittens (Skip and Fluff were suggested, and for their rooster – to be named Andy).

In the early 1890s Ernest Hayes was advertising his services to local flour mills:

‘TO MASTER MILLERS – Wanted SITUATION by a practical Miller; over 20 years’ experience; understands stones, rolls, purifiers, centrifugals; can run either wind, steam, or water mill, and do general repairs, millwright work &c., if required – Apply Ernest Hayes, Ida Valley Flour Mills, Rough Ridge.

The Rural Economy and Engineering Works

Settlement and farming led to the development of associated technologies – fencing (strainers and wire reelers) gate hinges, methods of rabbit control. Following on from international precedents people came up with new solutions to old problems or adapted existing technology to make it work better in local conditions. Laws controlling fencing and the trespass of livestock were passed as early as 1842. In rural areas wire fencing from the 1850s when heavy annealed iron wire became available although it only came in short lengths. From 1855 light gauge wire could be produced relatively cheaply and from this date on fencing wire was widely advertised.

The Encyclopedia of New Zealand provides an excellent description of the history and significance of fencing in the New Zealand economy:

‘Fencing technology was simple. Wire fencing was erected in sections, with the wires tied to strainer posts at each end of the section (called a strain). Intermediate posts are put in at intervals between the strainers to support the wires. Battens, droppers, waratahs or standards hold the wires in place between the intermediate posts. A typical wire fence erected on the sheep stations of the South Island in the 1860s and 1870s consisted of five plain wires with iron standards nine feet (2.7 metres) apart and 10 strainer posts to each mile (1.6 kilometres). Some runholders soon began fencing on a large scale, with a corresponding change to farm management practices that such enclosure allowed. By 1878, 77% of New Zealand’s fenced area was enclosed with wire – 82% of it in the South Island. Farming had expanded much more rapidly in the South Island and there was no cheap alternative to wire fencing, whereas in the north there was a ready supply of timber.’

With the need to adapt existing technologies and invent devices to meet New Zealand conditions, came the need to manage that process. New Zealand’s first system for issuing patents was The Patent Act 1860, modelled on British law, which established the New Zealand Patent office. Applications for patents could be filed at any courthouse from 1882, and from 1889 the Patent Office administered trademarks and designs. Flax spinning and gold mining patents were the most common in the 1870s and 1880s, but from the 1880s inventions for farm tools took over. Local manufacturing industries developed. Hayes used the services of a number of patent agents from around 1904 - Henry Hughes Ltd and Dunedin based H.M. Davey in New Zealand, and a number of patent attorneys in Australia - and was well informed on patent and design issues and intellectual property rights.

Associated with fencing were technologies for maintaining wire tension (wire strainers) and for managing the wire (reels, holders and the like). Gates, hinges, cattle stops, rabbit proof fences. Farmers needed these small but important items. Firms grew which specialised in such items. Dunedin inventor John Reid, son of Donald Reid, was one such figure, patenting the Triplex Wire Strainer, which was sold through Donald Reid’s well known and successful stock and station agency. The largest manufacturer of agricultural implements and equipment of Reid and Gray’s Otago Implement and Machine Works, which started in Oamaru had branches in South Canterbury, Otago and Southland. They established a large engineering workshop in Dunedin.

The Start of the Hayes’ Engineering Works

By 1895 Ernest had built a small mud brick workshop near the cottage, and was advertising his services as a wheelwright. In August 1895 he advertised in the Otago Witness:

‘E. Hayes (late of Messrs Pinfold’s Engineers and Millwrights, England) begs to intimate that he is prepared to execute repairs in millwrighting, Flour, Oatmeal, Spice, or Paint Mills, Threshing-mill machinery Repaired. Wheel-gearing a Speciality – Note address: E.Hayes, Wheelwright, Rough Ridge Post Office. Telephone, Hayes, Blackstone P.O.’

The rabbit plague was obviously an immediate scourge as Ernest Hayes’ first invention to be sold commercially was another weapon to aid in the fight against the hopping menace. Up until the Rabbit Nuisance Act of 1947, rabbit control was the responsibility of the landowner. Inland Otago was particularly hard hit and various methods (shooting, trapping, gassing, poisoning) were tried to reduce numbers. Phosphorised pollard (wheat bran) was introduced from Australia in the mid-1890s and rabbits took it year-round, unlike earlier poisons which would only be taken when there was no grass. Phosphorised pollard was the most widely used measure of rabbit control in Otago and Southland by the end of the 1890s, and pollard baits were a mixture of bran and poison dried to a sheet and cut into squares. Hayes set about trying to improve the production of poison.

Hayes advertised his ‘Lightning Poison Pollard Cutter’ in August 1895. The patented pollard cutter could, he claimed, cut 40,000 squares an hour. According to a newspaper article on the product, the pollard cutter had been developed a couple of years earlier, and had been improved since that time. The tin blades were initially cut out with tin snips, later with a circular punch. The pollard cutting tool was a labour saving device, the first of the simple, well designed and cost-effective tools and equipment for which the Hayes family was to become well known.

The Lightning Pollard Cutter came in three sizes ‘for farmers, grazing runholders, and for large stations.’ The machine was operated by the user ‘taking hold of a handle on each side and running it over the cake of pollard, which it cuts in longitudinal slips, a cross stroke reducing these to the most suitably-sized squares.’ The pollard cutter was said to do the work of a dozen men. Hayes planned to put a poison mixer on the market as well. He then turned attention to fencing and advertised his ‘Automatic Wire Tightener’ which would save ‘three coils of wire to the mile in erecting new fences.’

The operation was run as a family business and was known as E Hayes and Sons, and for a period sometime after 1912, as ‘E Hayes and Sons, Windmill Works, Oturehua.’ The Hayes family were involved in design, production, marketing and administration. Hannah Hayes initially marketed the pollard cutter, travelling from farm to farm throughout the Maniototo area by bicycle. Later sons Gilbert and Irving travelled around both the North and South Islands with samples and catalogues.

By 1897 Ernest Hayes had fitted the workshop out with a homemade pedal powered wood lathe. Along with agricultural equipment, Hayes turned his attention to gold mining technology. He patented a ‘gold dredge crevice bucket.’ The bucket was claimed to “pare off a Maori bottom, whereas the present buckets in use often when let down stop the engine, owing to the large area of bucket surface coming into contact with the bottom.’ It was further claimed that the ‘nose will go down into a crevice and take out the wash and gold in cases in which it is impossible for the broad body of the ordinary bucket to get down.’ The paper looked forward to the demonstration of a dredge fitted with the bucket.

By 1900 Ernest Hayes was ready to turn his attention full time to engineering. Ernest began designing, constructing and marketing farm tools and equipment full time, the company slogan becoming ‘Durability before Cheapness.’ The Works developed around a machine shop driven by windmill and later Pelton wheel, which transferred power to machinery via a central shaft and via belts to different machinery. Though antiquated to modern eyes, this was, as archaeologist Bill Edwards points out, standard machine shop technology in the nineteenth century.

A fire at the works in June 1905 was reported in the Otago Witness. The fire began in ‘one of the workshops’. One of the blast furnaces was destroyed and ‘part of one of the forges, some heavy frame-work, and several belts were partly consumed.’ One heavy cast-iron wheel, weighing a quarter of a ton, was red hot. The correspondent wrote that it was lucky that the fire was able to be controlled as the firm ‘has various kinds of machine work on hand’ which would have been delayed.

Hayes developed the Works around the available power and technology. At the beginning hand powered tools were used – a pedal lathe and cutting tools. From 1910-1927 mechanical power was provided by a windmill which drove line shafts off which belts drove various machines, supplemented with small stationary engines. A generator system run off a Pelton wheel was installed in 1934. For cut and formed steel components, patterns and jigs were created for the product components to allow mass production and machines were designed to make each component. The patterns enabled smooth and repeatable manufacture. Cast components were made off site – out sourced largely to Dunedin and Invercargill.

By 1905 Ernest was well established working on various innovative tool and equipment designs, and improvements to existing designs such as wire straining devices, and windmills (from 1910 onwards – when a windmill was erected to power the Works). He applied for and was granted patents, initially under his own name, and later under the name of Ernest Hayes and Sons, though patents were also t

Increased production meant there was a need for more space. Sometime prior to 1902 a larger stacked schist stone workshop with a forge had been erected. This was extended over the next twelve years, with a series of gabled and lean-to additions. The final extent of the Works buildings was reached in 1930 with the erection of the mud brick office.

Living arrangements

Initially the Ernest Hayes built a small mud brick cottage on their land just to the south of Rough Ridge. The family lived in that building and in other buildings as they were built. Stanley Hayes built his own cottage south of the Works in 1912 (known as the ‘Terrace Villa’). Llewellyn and Irving may have lived in the stable loft until the men’s quarters were added to the stables.

With such a large family, a bigger residence was needed. What was known by the family as the ‘Big House’ (now known as Hayes’ House) was built between 1919 and 1922. After Llewellyn bought the adjoining property on which the former Ida Valley Flour Mill was located in 1920, family members lived in the old miller’s house. Ernest and Hannah Hayes or their immediate family lived in the ‘Big House’ until 1952. Ernest Hayes died in 1933 and Hannah in 1946.

A Family Operation

Ernest and wife Hannah, sons Llewellyn, Bernard, Stanley, Gilbert, Irving, Leslie, Stanley’s sons Clive and Russell, daughter Olive and husband Doug Smith and their daughter Muriel Smith, and Les’ and Bernard’s wives Shirley and Amy - This was a family concern. Hannah was famous for cycling all over the countryside promoting products (even as far as Lindis Pass!). Llewellyn Hayes worked as an engineer and had his own patent for improvements to the Lightning Pollard Cutter at age fourteen. With his brother Bernard he made the first ‘Monkey Brand’ wire strainer which was later patented. Bernard worked as a commercial traveller for the company, spending months on a motorcycle, selling wire strainers to places as distant as Manapouri, Harihari and Waipukurau. Fourteen year old Stanley started at the works when he could leave school and became a blacksmith and general engineer, as well as building the Terrace Villa and the Big House. Gilbert worked in the factory and later followed Bernard into the sales side of the business. Irving worked as a labourer at the works before helping erect windmills, later demonstrating Hayes products at farms and shows. Irving managed the Invercargill branch of E Hayes and Sons when it opened in 1933.

The next generation followed their fathers into the works – Llewellyn’s son Leslie helped erect the first Wonder Windmill in 1943 before becoming office manager. Clive Hayes (Stanley’s son) began swinging a hammer as a teenager before becoming work’s foreman and with his sister’s husband Doug Smith set up a company to run the works after Leslie and Llewellyn shifted to Templeton, keeping his involvement until the mid-1950s.

The Products

From designs drawn up on the kitchen table to complex engineering creations, Ernest Hayes and his family firm made products that became nationally recognised. Historian Claudia Orange writes that Ernest was: ‘[a] pioneer in the manufacture of labour-saving appliances and machinery for farm and station, Ernest Hayes had used his capacity for solving technical problems to invent articles which were ingenious in design, simple but strong, and easy to use. From a remote workshop farm he achieved a national reputation for his products.’ Starting with the Lightning Pollard Cutter, he and his sons turned their attention to pollard mixers, wire strainers, fence wire reels, fence standards, fence standard repair kits, seed drills, various types and sizes of windmills, windmill water pumps, cattle stops, docking irons, stays and posts. Some items were innovative and unique; others were improvements on other peoples’ designs or copies of designs for which the patents had lapsed. Hayes’ designs were more strictly wind driven rotary pumps for pumping water for irrigation purposes, rather than mills for grinding.

While the first recorded windmill for commercial production was built in 1912, Ernest Hayes had been tinkering with windmills since the mid-1890s. He designed a windmill to power the works which was erected in 1910. The Hayes ‘Power Mill’ was patented in 1909. The Windmills produced at the Works included the ‘New Idea’, ‘Revolving Tower’, and ‘Wonder Mill’. They ranged in size from the small fan with a three foot diameter, to the massive 20 foot diameter fan for the Revolving Tower. The Hayes would also erect the windmill for the purchaser. Some four hundred windmills were sold between the 1920s and the 1950s.

In addition to making their own products the Hayes also imported and on-sold a range of other products including hand tools and equipment, small engines, vices, hoists, blacksmith’s tools and the like. They also supplied large volumes of kerosene and benzene (or petrol) – not likely to waste anything, many of the tins and storage boxes found their way into the Works, recycled as storage units.

Later History of the Works

Many of the Hayes family were involved in the Works. Llewellyn Hayes was the engineer and manager of the works until his retirement in 1964. Bernard worked at the Works and then as the company’s office manager from after his active service in World War One through till 1947. Stanley worked in the Works from 1904 till 1921 when he left to manage his own farm. Gilbert worked and later was a commercial traveller for the company until 1932 when he left to farm in Tapuhi in Northland. Irving was a worker from 1914 then a windmill erector and later a traveller for the Works from 1919 until 1933. In 1933 he opened Hayes Hardware shop in Invercargill. He retained links to the Works until 1947 when the hardware became a separate business owned and managed by Irving. Leslie (Llewellyn’s son) was office manager until 1964 when he took over as managing director of E. Hayes and Sons. Clive Hayes started work in January 1935 and continued till 1952 when the Works business was relocated to Templeton.

Extended family members were also drawn into the works: Doug Smith (later married to Olive Hayes), Shirley Ball (later married to Leslie Hayes). Doug Smith had worked for the Hayes from 1923-1941, initially as a commercial traveller and then as an engineer.

In 1952 the works were shifted to Templeton by Hannah and Ernest’s son and grandson, Llewellyn and Leslie Hayes.

Clive and Ngaira Hayes went into partnership with Doug Smith under the name of Hayes and Smith Limited. They carried on operating the works as a general engineering workshop servicing the local community, and lived in the house after 1952. The company articles indicated a range of business activities, but the core business was that as ‘engineers and manufacturers of farm and agricultural equipment of all types as carried on by the ‘firm’ of E Hayes and Sons at Oturehua.’ The shareholders were local farmers. By 1958 the Company was in liquidation and the property was transferred to Doug Smith.

Doug Smith continued to operate the business on his own account until around 1975, when he retired to Ranfurly. Roger Cameron used the works as a general engineering workshop and later acted as custodian for NZHPT.

New Zealand Historic Places Trust Ownership

In 1980 the NZHPT and the Crown negotiated the subdivision and purchase of the Works complex and site from Doug Smith. In 1983 the house was also subdivided off the original block and it was purchased by NZHPT.

In 2011 Hayes Engineering Works, including Hayes House, is a heritage property open to the public and attracts many visitors from the Central Otago Rail Trail which passes close by. The Hayes Engineering Works are open throughout the year, with operating days, where the works can be seen running, in the summer. As with the engineering workshops the homestead remains very much as it did when first moved into by the Hayes family in October 1920, making the visitor experience like a step back in time. As well as being ahead of its time in terms of interior fittings, the homestead had unique features that can be viewed and appreciated today.

Hayes products (wire strainers, wire dispensers, fence post tools, gates and the like) are still being made, and are distributed by Tru Test Group, acknowledging their debt to pioneering engineer Ernest Hayes.

Physical Description

This section is based on the ‘Hayes Engineering Works Oturehua Otago Condition Report’ prepared by Salmond Architects for NZHPT in May 2001, and Guy Williams’ draft ‘Hayes Engineering Works House Property Conservation Plan’ prepared for NZHPT in July 2007.


Hayes Engineering Works lies on flat land in the Ida Valley, about two kilometres south of Oturehua. The Works and the House are set back from the road in the midst of farmland. The road entrance is distinguished by a set of concrete posts and a wooden farm gate. The complex of buildings is made up of an early twentieth century dwelling house and its associated outbuildings - dairy, stables, office, hen house and reconstructed cottage, and the engineering works themselves - a conglomeration of buildings and structures. They are built in the lee of a rise that provides shelter from the north-west winds.

The complex can be divided into the house and associated domestic and/or agricultural activities, and the Works which was where the manufacturing took place.

The house and its associated structures are separated from the Engineering Works by a post and wire fence.

General Description of Materials

The buildings are constructed of adobe brick, corrugated iron on timber frames and schist stone. Mud-brick construction involves shaping bricks in wooden moulds from a mixture of clay and straw. The bricks were air dried and then laid using lime mortar or clay slurry. Architect Jeremy Salmond suggests that the technique may have come to New Zealand along with the rush of gold diggers from the American west. Due to climate (and the lack of any other building materials) mud brick was suited only to the very dry areas such as Central Otago, and even so surviving mud brick buildings are relatively rare because of their vulnerability to weathering. The technique was popular in gold-mining settlements.

The adobe construction is generally fair-faced mud brick, but some buildings have been plastered with mud as weather protection. The superstructure of the adobe walls was attached to the walls with No.8 gauge wire ties built into the adobe construction and stapled into the timber frames.

Exterior joinery is all timber. Many of the windows appear to have been made in a joinery shop, the frames seem to have been made on site.

Other site features are made of concrete, including fence posts, paths, walls and garden edges. A windmill and ‘the generous use’ of Hayes’ fence strainers recall the products for which the company was known.

Hayes’ House

The Hayes House (the second dwelling on site) is a large villa style residence, but finished in some details in the emerging bungalow style. The building is mud brick with an external render of mud mixed with cement to give the exterior walls a smooth surface. The house has concrete footings and there is extensive use of concrete for terraces, a water tank, and for paths and garden edges around the building. The roof is unpainted corrugated iron.

The front façade faces east, and features two projecting bays, set either side of the centrally located veranda. The south bay is faceted and features four sets of double hung sash windows. The north bay is plainer. They feature panelled and battened projecting gable ends over the two bays, with plan barge boards peaked with timber finials. The veranda has a rolled edge roof, with fluted timber posts under cast iron filigree set between. The main entrance door has a bungalow style four panel and top-glazed door, set within a border framework of decorative base panelling, with coloured side lights and top lights.

The north façade has is similarly detailed to the front façade. The west (rear) façade has a corrugated iron clad timber framed enclosure with the back porch, with a concrete wood store alongside. The south façade has a plain straight wall relieved by five sets of double hung sash windows.

The interior walls are plastered and lined with wall paper, except in the kitchen and scullery which are painted. The ceilings are a mix of varnished matched lining and sheet linings with battens. The architraves and skirtings are moulded villa-style profiles but doors are four panel bungalow pattern with a raised middle rail. Windows are conventional double hung sashes. Most internal features are intact. There are built in cupboards in bedrooms and a built in window seat in the living room. Floors throughout are tongued and groved boards, covered only in the kitchen, with linoleum.

There is a coal store of cast in situ concrete with faceted corners and a flat top. There is asphalt on the roof surface. The water tank is also a cast in situ concrete structure with a store room in the base. An improvised mechanical float raises and lowers an external level indicator. A lean-to shed also concrete sits against the water tank base.

Garden and Associated Features

There is a small enclosed garden in the North West corner. It is enclosed by a wire mesh fence supported by concrete posts. There are an extensive array of concrete paths, garden borders, a fountain and a ‘swirling pool’ which were set out in the grounds by the Hayes.

There are various gates, fences and garden walls.


The Carport is located behind the house, and is presumed to have been a vehicle garage. It consists of two parallel adobe walls and is open on the other two sides. Part of the wall is double brick on a concrete footing. Three rows of pipes support timber framing in the ridge and at the edges of the roof on the open sides. The roof is corrugated iron. The floor is earth.

Hayes’ Engineering Works

Office of Works (now Museum)

The Office of Works is constructed of mud brick on a concrete foundation, with a corrugated iron roof. The outside corners of the walls are protected from the weather by folded galvanised angles. The building consists of a large room with a smaller room in the north west corner. The building has a timber floor and ceiling. The walls are plastered. There are eight windows and two doors.

The remnants of the original electrical service to the building remain on the exterior, including overhead wires.

The former Office of Works has been converted to a museum about the site and the Hayes family.

Original [rebuilt] Homestead

This mud brick building has been reconstructed on the site of the original Hayes homestead. The original form of the homestead was perhaps a single room that was added to later. When NZHPT took over the property, the homestead was in a derelict state, and part of the homestead was demolished and reconstructed. Salmond’s Conservation Plan describes it as an ‘inaccurate reconstruction’ but a sound building. The walls are of new adobe bricks on a schist foundation with new rough sawn timber-framed roof clad in corrugated iron. Salmond considered the reconstruction to be incomplete.

Hayes Workshop

The Workshop is a complex building which has grown from a schist stone forge to the large rambling complex. The stone section has been expanded to the north and east in adobe construction, and later to the west in timber frame and corrugated iron, with a small office added to the north end of the adobe section. The progressive construction is reflected in the changing form and detail of the roof and in the variety of doors and windows.

Salmond describes the various parts of the building as the Lathe area, the Store, the Forge, the Machine Room, the Office and the toilets.

Throughout the building runs a series of drive shafts which powered the various machines, with a connection on the south side to the Pelton Wheel house, which provided power.

Making it all go: the line shaft power transmission system

The line transmission system used to power the Works is typical of a late nineteenth/early twentieth century. The survival of such a system, in working order, through the technological advances of the twentieth century is of outstanding significance. The line shafts were belt driven (first by windmill, then after 1927 by a Pelton wheel, with supplementary power to mediate the vagaries of wind power, provided by oil engines). A series of belts and drive shafts provided power for the production machinery. The line shaft system was built in two stages – the first on the construction of the Works windmill in 1910. With the extension of the Works in 1914 the drive system was extended, and then in 1915 the two systems were linked by a drive belt.

To prevent the gaps in supply a dam was built to the west of the works in February 1937. This provided backup supply for the Pelton wheel feed. The control mechanisms for the drive system were connected to the house in the mid-1930s, and the factory, office and house were wired for electricity.

Garage and Steel Stack

The Garage and Steel stack lie to the west of the Works building, linked by a concrete apron and a timber overhead gantry carrying a rolling hoist. The Steel Stack is an open heavy creosoted timber framed structure with a corrugated iron roof. It is a system of racks based on a series of parallel timber frames braced in opposite directions in alternate rows. Footings are concrete cast into 4 gallon cans.

The Garage is a rudimentary framed building with a skillion roof, and the whole structure is clad in corrugated iron, except for the north wall which is clad in weatherboards up to top plate level. The concrete floor has been poured between the wall frames.

The Oil House

The Oil House is a small corrugated iron shed south west of the Office of Works (Museum). It is a rudimentary framed structure with a single pitch roof and covered on all sides and the roof with corrugated iron, except the door which is new ledged and faced item with hasp and twisted stable fastening. There is a rough timber floor.

The Pelton Wheel House

The Pelton Wheel House stands to the south of the Workshop. It is connected to it by a slender metal rod which is the drive shaft which transfers the rotary energy from the water driven Pelton wheel to the workshop machinery. Salmond describes it as ‘more a structure than a building.’ The Wheel House is based on a wooden frame of inclined baulks in each corner and at mid-point on each side. These support the raised first floor and its roof. The Pelton wheel is contained in a concrete enclosure on the ground, to which water is introduced through flume pipes from the race on the hill to the west. A system of valves controls the flow of water and a large sparge pipe conveys used water to a small pond. The base structure supports the various parts of the apparatus, including the large diameter flywheel, with a series of heavy transverse timbers. The first floor houses a 100v DC electric generator which is driven by a belt attached to a drive shaft. Access to the upper floor is via a steep set of steps with a galvanised pipe handrail.

Other Structures

Stables and Men’s Quarters

The Stable building is a small one and a half storey structure with two open lean-tos on the south side and a single-story addition on the west. The construction is mainly mud brick on concrete foundations, except for the corrugated iron cladding on the second lean-to. The roof is corrugated iron with no spouting or down pipes.

There are two stalls in the ground floor stable, with a cobbled floor of round stones. The adjacent room is used as a store. The loft is reached via an external timber ladder.

The Men’s Quarters are an addition to the rear wall of the stables and provided accommodation for workers, and later family members. It has mud brick walls set on a concrete footing and a corrugated iron roof.

Dairy and Cow Byre and Yards

The Dairy is a small two-room adobe building south west of the main house. Construction is mud brick on concrete foundations with a corrugated iron roof. The interior walls have been plastered and white washed. In the south room a bench has been fitted along the west wall and the wall above lined with rough boards. The floors are large pre-cast concrete slabs.

The Cow Byre is a timber framed rectangular structure, clad in corrugated iron, with a concrete floor. It has a head bail, leg rope holder and tail restrainer. The building was later converted to a piggery/farrowing pen.

The yards are made up of nine Hayes manufactured poured in situ concrete posts.

Hen House

The Hen House is a roughly framed structure covered on all sides except the north by corrugated iron. There are two square holes in the lower wall on the east to allow the chickens in and out. The floor is concrete. The associated hen run is partially enclosed with a corrugated iron fence and paved with concrete. A trough runs along the front of the building.


The windmill is a steel angle structure supporting a cantilever frame with timber decking and the windmill above.

Construction Dates

1887 -
Hayes purchase farm property at Rough Ridge. Cottage thought to have been constructed at this time.

1888 - 1908
Cow byre, yards, dairy and stables thought to have been constructed.

Original Construction
1902 -
New Workshop built.

1905 -
June: Fire in forge destroys forge

1908 - 1909
Workshop additions

1910 -
Windmill erected to power the Works

1912 -
Factory Office addition.

1914 -
Stanley Hayes builds Terrace Villa south of Works. Men’s Quarters addition to the Stable. Factory West wind addition completed.

1914 -
Stanley Hayes makes mud bricks for Hayes House

1919 -
Construction of Hayes house recommenced

1927 -
Works power converted to a Pelton wheel and generator. Windmill decommissioned and top level removed.

1928 - 1949
Leslie Hayes landscaped the garden

1930 -
Engineering Works reach their final form with construction of a separate office.

1934 -
Electrical power installed at the house via Pelton wheel system

Telephone system installed connecting house, works office and factory

1972 -
House connected to the National Grid

Construction Details

Mud brick, timber, corrugated iron, concrete, stone

Completion Date

3rd October 2011

Report Written By

G. Williams, H. Bauchop

Information Sources

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Claudia Orange. 'Hayes, Eben Ernest - Biography', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 1-Sep-10 URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/2h25/1

University of Otago

University of Otago

Bill Edwards, ‘Technological Change at Hayes Engineering Works, Oturehua, New Zealand’, MA Thesis, September 2008

Bruce Herald

Bruce Herald

Eben Ernest Hayes, Obit. 6 July 1933

Salmond Architects 2001

Salmond Architects ‘Hayes Engineering Works Oturehua Otago Condition Report’ prepared by for NZHPT in May 2001

Williams, 2007 (1)

Guy Williams, ‘Hayes Engineering Works House Property Conservation Plan’ prepared for NZHPT in July 2007

Williams, 2009

Guy Williams, ‘Hayes Engineering Works Conservation Plan’, prepared for NZHPT (Draft, July 2009)

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Office.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.