About Us

The History of Wagener Stoves…………….

The beginning:

Over 40 years ago an idea for a new fireplace and a new wetback design was born in a little back street shed in Ward Street, Kaitaia. The man responsible was the late Leon Kernot, a well-known and respected business man and entrepreneur. Leon was a carpenter by trade and built and managed the first motel in Kaitaia along with many other bold enterprises at that time such as Waitiki Landing in the very Far North.

In the late 1970’s the wood fires we relied on to heat our homes were potbelly stoves and draughty, inefficient open fires. Leon had an idea out of which the Original Wagener Stove was developed.

At the same time Kent Fires were developing the Anthony Barker designed wood fire so both Leon & Anthony were NZ pioneers in the development of fully enclosed, efficient wood fires fitted with a door glass and air wash system to keep the glass clean.

Many have asked over the years where the name “Wagener” came from. Leon enlisted the help and expertise of local engineer Russell Wagener to manufacture the fires and together they formed a partnership. Kernot Stoves didn’t have the right “ring” to it but Wagener was a well-known and respected name in the North and had that German sounding origin of quality.

Having also noted the problems surrounding the existing style of hot water producing wetbacks Leon also designed the “Lion” wetback concept which was patented in 1983. This revolutionised the wetback market to the extent that almost every major stove manufacturer in New Zealand had wetbacks developed, tested and manufactured by Wagener Stoves.

The modest little Wagener Stove and “Lion” wetbacks even “crossed the ditch” where they were rebranded and sold by Braemar and Burning Log companies in Australia. Unfortunately new regulations implemented in Australia and an unfortunate business association ended this enterprise abroad.

Leon was now ready for retirement and son Barry Kernot who owned and operated Ward Street Motors was ready for a change and new challenges. Barry sold his garage, bought Wagener Stoves and relocated into a larger building still in Ward Street and neighbour to the little back shed.

2nd Generation:

With space to grow and Barry’s energy and attention focused the business began developing new product lines including the Schooner Chippy, Chippy and Wagener Cooker while still manufacturing the original Wagener Stove and growing line of some 60 different “Lion” wetbacks. These products were sold through a nationwide dealer network as well as to the local Far North market.

In 1993 Barry was joined by partner Ngaire McClure who took over the ever increasing administration work load and focused on sales and marketing.

Together they developed the Butler range of Chip Heaters and the Mark 2 Wagener Cooker.

In 1996 Barry & Ngaire purchased land in Allen Bell Drive, Kaitaia and began building what is now Braidwood House and home to Wagener Stoves.

Wagener Stoves relocated to the new building in 1997 allowing further expansion. Demand from both the general public and fellow stove manufacturers prompted Wagener Stoves to open a retail showroom to service the local community and the natural progression from there was to offer a full installation and maintenance service too.

Braidwood House has physically grown over the years having been extended and internally modified on a number of occasions to accommodate the growth in the business.

Lion wetbacks which were a mainstay of the business and grew to nearly 100 different models slowly diminished as the strict clean air regulations were imposed on stove manufacturers.

The original Wagener Stove was replaced with a modified version called the CookTop Wagener Stove in the year 2000. The Wagener Cooker has evolved through three models and was replaced with the Wagener Fairburn in 2003. The Chippy was replaced by The Butler which has evolved through four models to the current Butler Multi launched in 2005. In 2012 the very popular wee Wagener Sparky arrived on the market followed by the Wagener Leon (named in memory of the founder) in 2016.

3rd Generation:

Youngest son and current workshop manager Kyle McClure joined the Company in 2004 after dabbling briefly in painting and plumbing.

In 2015 eldest son Troy Kernot relocated from Queenstown with a strong retail background and via an 18 month stint in Japan with his wife and young daughters, where they lived with his wife’s Japanese family.

Barry is now nearing retirement and looking to radically reduce his hours next year and Kyle and Troy are stepping up to take over the Company while Ngaire will continue in her role for a little longer but also at reduced hours.

Middle son Adam Kernot has recently moved home to the Far North with his wife and little daughter after 17 years in Auckland and he has been working in the business since mid 2018. Adam has come from a wholesale customer sales and service industry background.

As we near the end of 2018 new products are in development and a new 10x20 metre building is currently being built at the rear of Braidwood House to accommodate future development and the growing needs of the business.

Barry will relocate to a purpose built area in this new building where he will continue to specialise in development work albeit at a semi-retired, leisurely pace and allowing time to enjoy the growing 4th generation who currently number four beautiful girls.


We now have a fully operational 10x20 meter warehouse at the rear of our factory. Sparky CA our latest stove is being well received by the market and is an ECAN approved Clean Air wood burner with an amazing 0.55g/kg and 68% efficiency result which was born late in the 2019 heating season after much development and testing work by Barry. 

The family has also grown with son Adam and wife Heather adding another little girl to our team of granddaughters.


2020 Year of COVID19:

Sons Troy, Adam and Kyle continue to step up and Barry is now out of the day to day running of the business while Ngaire remains in her admin and marketing role for now.  The year kicked off well and then the world as we knew it changed forever..........  we were deemed a non-essential business and under COVID 19 level 4 we had to completely shut-down and all stay home in our own bubbles for 5 weeks.  This was literally as our heating season kicked off and we had orders waiting to be filled.  As we slowly moved through the Covid levels and managed to return to work, with the relative operating restrictions in place the team worked very hard to get orders out.  We were very grateful to have had the work and steady orders from loyal kiwi customers wanting our New Zealand made product as we sadly watched many businesses fold and staff lose their jobs.  Thankfully we were able to keep all of our valued team.

And continuing the growing 4th generation son Kyle and partner Shaye delighted us with the birth of our 6th beautiful granddaughter in September. 


Wagener Stoves "Lion" Ltd
5 Allen Bell Drive · Kaitaia New Zealand · Phone  09 408 2469 · Contact Us
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