The thinking behind Kiwi ingenuity was tipped on its end by Napier artist Ben Pearce with his Stone Age Eight Gauge entry in the annual No8 Wire competition ahead of Fieldays.

The work won the major prize in the 2016 Fieldays No8 Wire National Art Award for its strong statement, said judge Brett Graham.

Graham, a New Zealand sculptor, said the artist challenged the No8 wire mentality by saying innovation is a global phenomenon.

Stone Age Eight Gauge was one of 25 finalists in the annual competition which this year attracted a record number of entries from around New Zealand.

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The artists are challenged to create artworks using No8 Wire and agri-materials.

Graham said it was clear many of the artists had drawn on their farming backgrounds for their masterpieces.

The winning piece was inspired by the idea that many countries and cultures have their own version of No8 wire mentality.

Pearce said his artwork of tiny stone carvings represented that even 15,000 years ago, people were challenged to think outside the box and use stone to perform or solve their own day-to-day problems such as hunting and preparing food and making clothing.

The 34-year-old had enjoyed making and fixing things from the age of 3.

He left school at 17 and said focusing on his passion full-time helped him overcome depression.

The father-of-two planned to use the $7000 prizemoney to help his wife Laura Pearce, who is a potter.

"To win this award means very much to me. I love that art can make people stop in their tracks and consider new perspectives on the world they may not have seen and I hope my work does this."

Auckland artist Cherise Thomson's Korowai entry, representing a Maori cloak, was second while Warkworth sculptor Jenta Griffin's figure Pater Prime was third.

Auckland artist Becca Bolscher's Tui's Nest won the President's Choice Award.

New Zealand National Fieldays Society chief executive Peter Nation said in its 19th year, the art awards had grown in popularity and it was great to see the huge amount of creativity put into the creations.

The finalists' works are on display at ArtsPost Galleries and Shop in Hamilton until June 27. Entry is free.