As tradition goes, the phrase ‘number 8 wire‘ came to fruition in New Zealand to represent the can-do attitude, ingenuity and resourcefulness of kiwis. We have a number 8 wire mentality that we can repair or create something out of scrap or whatever is avaiable at the time. This mentality is rooted deep in the kiwi psyche. It is our ‘we can do it, no matter what we are given’ mentality.
The number 8 wire originated from the 1860’s wire that was used for farm fences. It was used in lost-cost fencing and it was adopted on New Zealand sheep farms for its versatility and ease of construction. Galvanised number 8 steel wire became the wire of choice for farmers.
Barbed wire became available in 1879 and this was used as a top wire for fences as it was a better solution to hold larger cattle. Cattle tended to bend the number 8 wire so a top barbed wire enabled farmers to keep their fences in tact and hold stronger farm animals. Number 8 wire was used lower down the fence and barbed wire was used on top.
Many farms had rolls of number 8 wire lying around. The wire would get used for all sorts of repairs, whether that was mechanical or structural, it was a great wire to use inventively and solve problems other than fencing.
The number 8 wire term is used a lot and has even been used as a phrase for a hardware store’s in house brand range for generic tools and supplies.
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