No.8 Wire Culture

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The No.8 wire culture was a key ingredient to the success enjoyed by the New Zealand enterprise during the 19th and the 20th centuries. It allowed Kiwi entrepreneurs to establish an identity for themselves, and bring international recognition and attention towards other New Zealand intellectuals, as creative solution providers. It gave New Zealanders the edge in cultivating a culture of quick, simple and, often, relatively cheap solution engineers than the rest of the world. This essay will focus on the importance of the No.8 wire culture to New Zealand in the recent past and its relevance to New Zealand today. In many ways, it still is a big part of this nation’s identity and we will share some examples a bit further in the essay to demonstrate that. However, to fully understand the importance of the No.8 wire culture in New Zealand we will first dig a bit more and gain some insight of what the No.8 wire culture is. The term No.8 wire historically refers to a size 8 gauge wire, approximately 4mm in diameter, commonly used for fencing. In New Zealand, the fencing wire or the No.8 wire was used for many tasks other than fencing. According to, “until 1963, it (No.8 wire) was imported from other countries”. Due to the abundance of the No.8 wire Kiwi farmers started using it as a replacement for other things, for example a bucket handle when the original handle broke down. This gave rise to the notion of the “No.8 wire” culture, where a type of good could be used as a tool to repair other goods that would otherwise require specific good(s). It then got embedded with Kiwiana, which simply put is a collage of things in the New Zealand culture that makes New Zealander’s unique. It is also New Zealand’s unique culture, location, to some extent the isolation from the rest of the world, and the desire of the people to be recognised as first among equals that has allowed Kiwi’s to retain the No.8 wire mentality as part of their culture. New Zealander’s have claimed first rights to many things from Mountain Buggy to world's first propeller-less jet boat – The Hamilton Jet to the electric fence. To help unravel this culture of entrepreneurship, it is important to educate ourselves about the background of these entrepreneurs before we discuss their respective enterprises. Although New Zealand entrepreneurs have some notable differences compared to entrepreneurs overseas they do share some distinct similarities too. In Origins and opportunity: 150 years of New Zealand entrepreneurship, the authors (Hunter & Wilson, 2004) highlight that in the 19th and the 20th century entrepreneurs, in New Zealand and overseas, shared similar family backgrounds. They compared a sample of 178 New Zealand entrepreneurs of the 19th and the 20th century with the study of American entrepreneurs by Sarachek. They provide us with a very unique data set and facts that were previously ignored in other studies. This case study will be used to de-construct the DNA of New Zealand entrepreneurs in our essay. In both the studies, the biggest majority of entrepreneurs came from families where their father was a business owner and the second majority came from families of farming background in the 20th century and skilled/trade workers in the 19th century. The noticeable difference is their education backgrounds. Amongst the overseas entrepreneurs family status and wealth are closely associated with the level of education. In 19th century New Zealand, trade qualifications seem to dwarf degree qualifications by 35 to 1. However, in the 20th century this ground gets more even when 33 entrepreneurs with trade qualifications are included with 8 entrepreneurs holding university qualification. During the 19th and 20th century’s New Zealand was home to timely waves of immigrant population. In the 19th century, 54% of the New Zealand population consisted of immigrant’s but of the 54%, according to a sample, 89.2% were entrepreneurs. Although the migrant...
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