An organisation helping to nurture young people in the primary industries is set to benefit from a Northland farmer's invention.

Alex Macmillan, 81, who farms beef cattle at Pipiwai, has developed a game-changing device for electric tape gateways.

He's designed a sturdy gateway hinge spring using marine-grade stainless steel, which won't rust and will last longer.

The device is the first of its kind in New Zealand and was officially launched at the national Fieldays in the Waikato in June.


Macmillan was a member of NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) in the 1950's and has decided to donate a portion of all sale proceeds to the organisation.

"I got immense benefit out of being a NZ Young Farmers member. It was one of the best ways to make friends," recalls Macmillan.

The octogenarian was a former Patumahoe Young Farmers club member, which was one of a number in the Franklin district.

The Lomacs gateway hinge spring is made from marine-grade stainless steel. Photo / Supplied
The Lomacs gateway hinge spring is made from marine-grade stainless steel. Photo / Supplied

"The thing I remember most fondly were the interclub debates," he said.

"There was some fierce competition in our area. It's a great way to expand your knowledge, share ideas and common interests, and to socialise."

Macmillan and his fellow club mates also knew their way around a dance floor, regularly attending Saturday night dances in local halls.

Supporting NZYF is a legacy Macmillan wanted to create to help the next generation of agri-food producers reach their goals.

The unique gateway hinge spring, which is being marketed by Lomacs New Zealand, has even generated interest from the Australian states of Tasmania and Victoria.


"This product is different to anything else on the market," said Macmillan's son Michael Macmillan, who's a director of Lomacs New Zealand.

"Other devices for electric tape gates have the spring inside plastic handles."

"The Lomacs gateway hinge spring is permanently mounted on a post and all of the componentry, apart from the plastic anchor, is marine-grade stainless steel," he said.

A number of the devices are set to be installed at the Auckland dairy farm gifted to NZ Young Farmers by the late Donald Pearson.

"We've had considerable interest from farmers in coastal areas who're tired of replacing their current gate components every couple of years due to rust. The Lomacs gateway hinge spring will solve this problem," he said.

Alex Macmillan has dedicated his life to the agriculture sector.

In the early 1960s he got a job working for the Milk Marketing Board in the United Kingdom as an artificial insemination (AI) technician.

"I was the youngest technician they ever employed," he said.

Upon his return to New Zealand, Macmillan spent more than four decades working for the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) as an AI technician.

"One of my biggest days involved inseminating cows in 29 herds. I travelled more than 209km that day," he recalls.

Michael Macmillan is looking forward to hitting the road to attend NZYF club meetings to discuss and promote his father's invention.

The gateway hinge spring has been selected as a finalist in the NZ Best Design Awards.