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About eight members of the extended Hayes family attended the celebration yesterday, which was also the date of their forebear Ernest Hayes’ birthday.
Colin Hayes, of Oamaru, one of the great-great-grandsons of Ernest Hayes, and his wife Hannah, said it was wonderful to see their family’s ancestors honoured by the inclusion of Hayes Engineering in the Landmarks programme. His grandparents, Clive and Ngaira Hayes, were the last of the descendants to live in the Hayes homestead. Ernest and Hannah Hayes raised nine children on their farm near Oturehua and Mr Hayes’ labour-saving inventions, from rabbit bait cutters to windmills, spread around the country and overseas. His refinement of J. Reid’s fencing wire strainer, perfected in 1924, is still used around the world today.
One of Ernest and Hannah’s great-granddaughters, Pat Wilson, of Waimangaroa, on the West Coast, said it was "lovely" to visit the Hayes property again and catch up with family members.
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said the inclusion of Hayes Engineering in the Landmarks programme would put the site "more on the map", and also act as a reminder it was "the people, the people, the people" who contributed to the history of a site, "not just bricks and mortar".
Landmarks recognises some of New Zealand’s most prized cultural and historic sites.