Hayes' Engineering Works

39 Hayes Road, OTUREHUA


Quick links:

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.

Hayes' Engineering Works, Oturehua | Bec Collie | 13/10/2020 | Heritage New Zealand
Hayes' Engineering Works, Oturehua. Homestead. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl | 21/03/2016 | Shellie Evans
Hayes' Engineering Works, Oturehua. Stables and forage storage. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl | 30/07/2015 | Shellie Evans
Hayes' Engineering Works, Oturehua. Workshop interior. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl | 21/03/2016 | Shellie Evans
Hayes' Engineering Works, Oturehua. Workshop interior | Bec Collie | 13/10/2020 | Heritage New Zealand



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Able to Visit

List Number


Date Entered

11th November 1981

Date of Effect

11th November 1981

City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Secs 38 and 42 Blk XIII Blackstone SD (RT 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).

Legal description

Secs 38 and 42 Blk XIII Blackstone SD (RT 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.

Stay up to date with Heritage this month