Hayes Homestead Centenary

Hayes Homestead celebrates 100 years of Kiwi engineering and ingenuity, including what must have been one of the first whole-home audio systems in New Zealand.

Ernest and Hannah Hayes lived with their nine children in a small mud brick cottage, built c. 1887, for just over 30 years, moving into a brand new and far more spacious home on 18 October 1921, before it was fully finished.   

This October, the Hayes Homestead turns 100. Hayes Engineering Property Lead, Jess Armstrong, sees the centenary as a way to remember the ingenuity and family loyalty that makes the Hayes family story so special.  

“This homestead was built by the Hayes sons for their parents. The Hayes sons made the mudbricks onsite in the years before World War I. Once Bernard and Stanley Hayes returned from active duty in 1919-20, the concrete foundations were poured, and construction began”. 

True to form, the engineering Hayes built the original homestead with plenty of ingenious touches and technical innovations. The homestead featured the first flushing toilet in the Maniototo, a shower (unusual for the times), air ventilation in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry and a wet back coal range.  

Most unusually, a system to pipe music and radio broadcast around the house was installed. “The story goes that this was done during World War II, so the family could keep up to date with war news”, says Jess. 

This year also marks ten years since the official opening in 2011, after Hayes Homestead was restored by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (then New Zealand Historic Places Trust).  

The restoration was supported by Hayes family descendants, particular Les Hayes and Clive and Ngaira Hayes and the family connection continues to this day.  Anne Hayes is grateful to the Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga team who care for the property. “It’s been great seeing the improvements to the visitor experience which let so many people enjoy our ancestors’ inventions,” she says. “I often have people tell me how much they’ve enjoyed visiting the site”. 

Hayes Engineering is open to visitors under Level 2 restrictions.

- Rosemary Baird


Thanks to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga for sharing this story. Join the mailing list for Heritage This Month - just follow this link to provide your name and email address.

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