Tuesday, March 9, 2010

No. 8 Wire & New Zealands Innovative Mentality

“The No. 8 wire culture was a key part of New Zealand enterprise during the 19th and 20th centuries. Is it still relevant to New Zealand today? ” Critically discuss this statement.

The term “number eight wire culture” used to describe a typical mentality of New Zealanders refers to the creativity and ingenuity they exude. New Zealand as a nation is viewed as having a very unique approach to problems and a way of over coming them, even when they do not have all the necessary means. It only seemed natural that no. 8 wire culture would seep into New Zealand enterprise, and in doing so it ended up playing a vital role in the development of our countries business sector. This ability and mentality flowed on through into the 19th and 20th centuries and continued to aid New Zealanders all over the country in business and in everyday situations. However, as time continues on and technology continues to advance, there as been debate as to whether the no. 8 wire culture is still relevant in New Zealand today or whether the mentality that has served the country so well for so long has now become obsolete. No. 8 wire culture is still relevant in today’s business society for several reasons, but mainly as the mentality created by the number eight wire culture gives New Zealand businesses an added advantage when it comes to creating new markets and/or new products. It also aids a business or company explore itself and increases their ability to find and fix any internal or external problems, also it helps with reducing company costs when it comes to aspects such as transport. The no. 8 wire culture is still relevant on an individual scale as well, as it allows New Zealanders to use alternative tools or products when they do not have the conventional equipment for a task they wish to complete.

Number eight wire culture springs from 19th century when, as an isolated country, imports from the motherland, England, rare and travelling into town was extremely time consuming from a lot of farmers. Due to the scarcity of technology and tools in the 19th century for the New Zealand population, they learnt to deal with the problems and issues they faced on a daily basis through other means and also learnt the art of making do with what you have, thus becoming a self reliant country . The use of unconventional tools to complete a task became widely recognised across the world and unique New Zealand products or a unique way of doing something was given the title of having ‘kiwi ingenuity’, another name for number eight wire culture. The term number eight wire culture comes from the numerous uses for number eight wire, a particular gauge of wire designed for fencing that was developed by New Zealanders. The 19th and 20th century enterprises in New Zealand relied some what heavily on the kiwi ingenuity that came with the number eight wire culture. Typically many businesses in the 19th century were farming orientated, or large wool and timber industries, however many individuals came in search of gold . On an individual level, you are able to see the effects of the no. 8 wire mentality in the search for gold, where people would use whatever they had in order to sieve out the pebbles on the riverbeds and find pieces of gold until they could afford more efficient equipment. By the end of the 19th century New Zealand had entered a depression (late 1890’s) which saw the end of the mass emigration and the fall of many businesses. However New Zealand enterprise struggled on through into the 20th century with a greater proportion of the population becoming farmers as the gold started to dry up. A great example of kiwi ingenuity and the no. 8 wire mentality occurred just after the middle of the 20th century when farmers turned an animal deemed a national pest into a source of profit. Deer were first imported into New Zealand from England and Scotland for sport in the mid to late 19th century, however the flourished in the Southern Alps and began to impact negatively on the environment and native forest. However in the 1960’s farmers had found a way to solve their pest problem and make a profit at the same time. They began to export feral dear and by the early 1970’s many farmers had built a base by capturing and farming deer. This show that the number eight wire culture and mentality has been an essential part of New Zealand enterprise from the very beginning, because if it weren’t for ‘kiwi ingenuity’ the deer farming industry may not even exist yet, but instead the New Zealand farmers managed to produce profit while eradicating a national pest. There is even controversy over whether the Wright brothers were the first people to have the ability to fly. A New Zealander, Richard Pearse, is believed to have been the first man to build and test a successful aircraft, on 31st March 1903, approximately nine months before the Wright brothers success, however he is not widely recognised for it. This event is another extraordinary example of kiwi ingenuity and the number eight wire culture.

Further into the future, in the 21st century, the debate about whether the number eight wire culture in New Zealand still has any relevance in the business sector. One of the arguments for the relevance of the no. 8 mentality is how it aids in the invention and creation of new products and markets. Because of the number eight wire mentality that many New Zealanders have our business sector has an advantage over the offshore businesses. This advantage is the result of the kiwi ingenuity, and the ability for the businesses employees to find simpler and potentially cheaper and faster methods of producing the same product, or to produce a product to the same quality as a global giant but with non of the equipment that they use. It also aids in the creation of new products and inventions as the number eight wire mentality drives New Zealanders to seek better methods of completing a task and can lead to the invention or refining of a product or service. Two major New Zealand businessmen which have shown aspects of the number eight wire culture in the creation of their business in the 21st century are Bill Day, founder of Seaworks, and John Managh, founder of RoadCraft. Entrepreneur Bill Day founded a company known as Seaworks in 1990’s, the idea behind Seaworks was not new; however the approach that Bill took to achieving the businesses goal redefined the industry. In an industry that typically used large ships in order to lay and maintain international communication lines as well as other ocean services, Bill was able to design and build a small vessel capable of completing the same job at a lesser cost . Similar to Bill Day, John Managh created his own company by adapting technology that already existed and improving it making it his own. The 21st Century company, RoadCraft, incorporates the ingenuity of the number eight wire culture and started when John Managh first started into the campervan business. He imported old campervans and redid them so that they were of a high quality and then resold them for a profit. John then went on to create a new class of campervan known as the OCV (Overland Camping Vehicle), improving on the international campervan standards, making a vehicle that seemed to have as much room inside it as a bedroom. The number eight wire culture has served both Bill Day and John Managh is their business ventures along with countless other New Zealanders. Bill Day and John Managh both exude several characteristics of the number eight wire mentality and that becomes even more obvious when researching their businesses. Therefore it becomes clear that kiwi ingenuity and the number eight wire culture in New Zealand has not lost its relevance in the 21st century but taken on a slightly different role so that it may be harder to recognise.

The number eight wire culture in New Zealand is still relevant in today’s society when it comes business as it gives New Zealanders a bit of an edge when locating and correcting flaws within their own or another persons business. As well as the ingenuity aiding in the invention and refinement of goods and services the number eight wire mentality grants New Zealanders an advantage when it comes to detecting and correcting business flaws. When a business is created there are many issues which may arise, whether they are obvious or not, the initiative and ingenuity of the New Zealand culture gives an advantage to the local businesses in finding these issues and solving them before they cause the business too much damage. Also as a business progresses there is a never ending supply of faults, flaws and hurdles which must be overcome for the business to run successfully making the number eight wire mentality quite relevant and useful in today’s enterprise. Even Microsoft has recently experienced a major flaw in their programming which they must overcome . Due to the unique way of thinking that is created by the number eight wire mentality New Zealanders are able to locate the source of many of the problems that can cause damage to a business and in turn eradicate the issue before it can do any harm. A great example of this has occurred at the end of last year, Beau Butler (a New Zealander) is a software engineer and exposed a major flaw in Microsoft security. Beau used his technical expertise along with his kiwi ingenuity in order to expose the flaw in Microsoft’s security that left millions of computers all over the world vulnerable to cyber criminals. The flaw allows hackers to access a person’s computer and steal the victim’s passwords and data in a single go and had affected over 160,000 New Zealanders before Beau could reveal the security flaw. Thanks to Beau’s technical expertise accompanied by his number eight wire mentality Microsoft could now correct the security flaw in their Windows programming potential saving their customers from being robbed of millions of dollars through the internet by cyber criminals. Beau Butler’s accomplishment shows how the number eight wire culture in New Zealand is still relevant in today’s industry and workplace for isolating flaws and critical errors in the running of businesses. The usefulness of this mentality has very little limits, as shown by Butler, a single individual, who aided an international giant, potentially saving them millions if not billions of dollars in research and repair.

On a personal level, the number eight wire mentality is still relevant. The biggest industry in New Zealand, even today, is still farming, or more specifically the dairy industry. New Zealand exceeds exports of $6.3 billion per year in dairy products. The number eight wire mentality and kiwi ingenuity helps farmers become more efficient at producing dairy products and in turn they receive higher revenues. The use of the number eight wire mentality as a farmer helps both himself as an individual but also aids the company, Fonterra, and the countries budget surplus for that year. Originally the number eight wire culture was centred around the ability of New Zealand farmers to create just about anything they need from the materials they had around them, typically number 8 wire. As New Zealand progressed as a nation and technology became more readily available, the need for innovation and ingenuity in both the business sector and farming sector decreased, however the way of life that was etched into the minds of New Zealanders for almost 200 years wasn’t going to go away completely. Like in the business sector the number eight wire culture still exists in the dairy industry, but it has changed and developed as time has moved forward. In the past farmers would use the kiwi ingenuity to fix problems such as a broken part in a trailer or a broken latch on a gate, now however, although these issues to occur and are often given a temporary fix using the number eight wire mentality, farmers often use kiwi ingenuity and innovation to devise more accurate and cost effective means of measuring, transporting and storing the dairy products. An example of some equipment which is used to accurately measure a farmers produce and make transportation more cost effective is the hand held computers carried by the truck drivers. Previously a truck driver transporting milk from a farmer to the processing plant would only be able to collect one farmers produce at a time, (i.e. travel to the farm, collect milk, travel back to processing plant, unload milk, travel to next farm), making the collection process expensive and extremely time consuming. However, ever since the truck drivers began using hand held computers to store and record information the process has become a lot less time consuming and much more cost effective. The hand held computer allows the truck driver to register information about the quantity of the product to each farmer’s details in the Fonterra database. Also a technique referred to as ‘reverse osmosis’ developed in New Zealand through kiwi ingenuity has managed to decrease Fonterra’s milk transport costs even further, by filtering out solids before transport, allowing a single truck to hold numerous farmers milk at the same time. According to Fonterra the new technology will decrease lorry movements by approximately 3000 per year when it is implemented in Australia. The international company, Fonterra, has obviously been aided by the number eight wire culture and kiwi ingenuity as the inventions which took place in New Zealand have massively decreased the businesses transport costs and increased the company’s time efficiency. Although this is a massive advantage to Fonterra, the individual farmers also gain from this invention; the decreased cost to Fonterra may be used as an added incentive to farmers to produce the top quality milk for a higher price and also they wouldn’t need to spend as much time tracking their shipment to making sure that it is the truck drivers benefit from this invention as they minimise the time the are on the road and tracking back and forth between farmer and processing plant. This shows how the number eight wire culture in New Zealand is still relevant today.

The number eight wire culture in New Zealand has been a key part of our countries enterprise in the 19th and 20th century, but by the 21st century the debate has arisen as to whether the culture is still relevant. The term number eight wire culture springs from a time when New Zealand was an isolated country and its people began to improvise, using unconventional tools to complete tasks. Through the 19th and 20th century, it was possible to see the application of the number eight wire mentality when it came to eradicating pests, fixing fences and broken equipment. However by the 21st century technology had progressed so far that New Zealand is no longer isolated and the need for kiwi ingenuity has all but depleted. This may be true, but the number eight wire mentality still exists, although in a slightly different way. Instead of kiwi ingenuity being used to fix fences and gates or turn a national pest into an export earner, it is now being applied on an international basis aiding companies, such as Seaworks and Roadcraft, to compete with international giants and helping entire industries, like the dairy industry (Fonterra), minimise their transport costs and increase time efficiency levels. For these reasons, the number eight wire culture which has served New Zealand and New Zealanders since the early 19th century is still relevant in today’s society. Although the application of the mentality may have changed and adapted to the way of life of the 21st century, the number eight wire culture is still extremely relevant.



1) Scott, Anthony. 22 March 2008. Hiding Our Light Under No. 8 Wire. Accessed 12 September 2008 at: www.sciencenewzealand.org/opinion/ hiding_our_light_under_the_no_8_wire

2) New Zealand Tourism Online Ltd. 2008. No 8 Wire. Accessed 12 September 2008 at: http://www.tourism.net.nz/new-zealand/about-newzealand/ kiwiana.html

3) Fernbook. 2008. C19th Emigration: Why travel to New Zealand. Accessed 12 September 2008 at: http://www.fernbook.co.uk/emigration

4) Deerfarmer.com. 25 July 2003. Deer & Elk Farmers’ Information Network: Industry, Deer Farming In New Zealand. Accessed 12 September 2008 at: www.deer-library.com/artman/publish/article_99.shtml

5) The New Zealand Edge. 2008. The New Zealand Edge: Speedsters: Richard Pearse. Accessed 13 September 2008 at: www.nzedge.com/heroes/pearse.html

6) Seaworks Ltd New Zealand. 2008. Seaworks Ltd New Zealand: A New Zealand Company specialising in submarine cable installation. Accessed 12 September 2008 at: http://www.seaworks.co.nz

7) RoadCraft Motorhomes For Sale. 2008. RoadCraft Motorhomes For Sale – Get One! Accessed 12 September 2008 at www.roadcraft.co.nz

8) Managh, John. 12 August 2008. Guest lecturer for Management 202: Foundations of Enterprise. The University of Auckland, Semester 2, 2008

9) New Zealand Herald. Rowan, Juliet. 01 December 2007. No 8 wire culture saves global giant. Accessed 12 September 2008 at: www.nzherald.co.nz/sect ion/story.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=10479433

10) Market New Zealand. 2008. Market New Zealand.com: New Zealand Dairy Industry. Accessed 13 September 2008 at: http://www.marketnewzealand. com/MNZ/aboutNZ/sectors/14713.aspx

11) Woods, Chris. 22 July 2008. Lecturer for Management 202: Foundations of Enterprise. The University of Auckland, Semester 2, 2008

12) Mercer, Chris. 28 November 2005. Osmosis Cuts Fonterra’s Milk Transport Costs. Food Navigator. Accessed 13 September 2008 at: www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Financial-Industry/Osmosis-cuts-Fonterra-s-milk-transport-co


  1. You're the entrepreneur. It's your responsibility to do whatever is necessary to make the company successful.
    eccentric entrepreneur

  2. I was reading your post and no doubt it was really informative.I got here what i was looking for.Thanks for sharing.Eccentric entrepreneur