|Hayes Engineering Works and Homestead is a heritage site consisting of a fascinating 1900s engineering factory, (still in working order), farm buildings and a quirky 1920s house and garden. This property was home to the remarkable and hard-working Ernest and Hannah Hayes.
New Zealand’s farming community is indebted to Ernest Hayes, a flour miller and farmer who invented and marketed products to improve farming life. His most famous invention – the Hayes Wire Strainer, designed and perfected in 1924 is still sold worldwide today. It won a design award in 1981, long after Ernest had died. Apart from other inventions and equipment, the Engineering works also manufactured windmills that can still be seen onsite, and on farms throughout Otago and further afield.
Hannah Hayes, was probably New Zealand’s first door-to-door saleswoman. She cycled between farms in her long skirts, taking orders for the Hayes’ implements she carried in her basket. On some sales trips Hannah travelled over 130kms on remote dirt roads, over steep terrain and without the help of modern gears, cushioned seats and fancy bike pants. Many women today will appreciate the juggling that must have taken place for her to support her husband’s business while organising the children and keeping family life running smoothly in her absence.
Tours of the engineering works and homestead give wonderful insights into the lives of the Hayes family who like many struggled in this difficult environment. With a stable business established, Ernest built the mud-brick homestead complete with charming “mod-cons” of the time that he engineered into the house. These included electricity (generated by a water-driven pelton wheel), piped radio, and quirky laundry and bathroom fittings. His influence can also be seen in the unusual garden features around the homestead.
Hannah's Café serving fresh food – indoor and outdoor seating
Ice cream! Cold drinks!