I remember, as a child growing up, my father being renowned for being able to fix everything and anything – although his claim to be able to do this with a “pop rivet” is probably along the same lines as the Number 8 wire mentality. With 8 children to support and money in short supply his forte was “making do” with whatever material and tools were in his possession.
Number 8 Wire is, literally, a gauge of steel wire, popularly used in rural fencing around paddocks.
But in New Zealand, the phrase has a deeper, more spiritual connection with the land.
Allow me to explain.
Apart from a few notable exceptions, historically, New Zealand had always been last in the queue when it came to importing vital industrial materials, tools and technology
Lack of proper equipment in the early days fostered in Kiwi blokes a knack for ‘getting stuff done’ using whatever basic materials were readily and easily available to them at the time. In a country with 60 million sheep to fence in the most abundant of these materials was Number 8 Wire.
However out of years of hardship and struggles to make the new country work, grew the myth of the Number 8 Wire mentality; commonly known as Kiwi ingenuity. In essence, New Zealanders are practical problem-solvers; able to invent, fix and create machinery with basically whatever scraps they have lying around in the garden shed.
From this stemmed a long line of New Zealand entrepreneurs, inventors and can-do types who went out and changed the world with their creations. This unique mind-set has long offered a competitive advantage to New Zealanders thus far and has seen the success of many Kiwi inventions – the jet boat, electric fence, bungy jumping and even the egg beater.