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21st New Zealand Shearing Championships and the NZ Shears Running of the Sheep

Helen Beever, Waitomo District Council - 08/04/05

The 21st New Zealand Shearing Championships were held in the Civic Centre, Te Kuiti, from Thursday 31 March to Saturday 2 April, 2005. An added feature that has caught the attention of media worldwide was “The NZ Shears Running of the Sheep”.

Te Kuiti, located in the heart of New Zealand’s King Country of the North Island, is recognised as The Shearing Capital of the World. The small rural town hit the global map last year with its inaugural Running of the Sheep and this year’s event put them back into the media spotlight once again.

No bull. 2227 sheep were seen scurrying down the main street of Te Kuiti. A play on the popular “Running of the Bulls” in Pamplona, Spain, Te Kuiti’s version had a different flavour. This time, former All Black Colin Meads, Pop Star Joe Cotton and Bushman Billy Black took charge, leading the flock down the length of Te Kuiti’s main street to the cheers of thousands of local on-lookers.


NZ Shears Running of the Sheep in Te Kuiti
NZ Shears Running of the Sheep in Te Kuiti
Photo source: Waitomo District Council
Click here to view a larger version

Usually, counting sheep is associated with trying to get to sleep – but for two lucky on-lookers who guessed closest to the number of sheep in the run, a cash prize of $2000 was shared.

The NZ Shears Running of the Sheep was just one of the fun events surrounding the 21st New Zealand Shearing Championships. There was serious action at the championships as David Fagan, defending national champion, and five times World Champion, faced stiff competition to retain his national title from New Zealand’s top shearers, a shearing team from Australia and shearers from around the United Kingdom. However, David Fagan successfully defended his national title, winning the New Zealand Open Shearing Championship Final shearing 20 sheep in a time of 13.52.06 minutes.


David Fagan shearing for the national title at the 21st New Zealand Shearing Championships
David Fagan shearing for the national title at the 21st New Zealand Shearing Championships
Photo source: Waitomo District Council
Click here to view a larger version

With the top shearers capable of shearing a sheep in just 21 seconds, spectators were assured of fast, furious action as these top sportsmen vied for the coveted New Zealand Shearing Championships open title and sheared thousands of sheep in the process!

Carnival attractions
There were numerous other carnival-style attractions during the festival including the “Sly Grog Alley”. The Sly Grog Alley celebrates that the King Country was the last region in New Zealand to change from being “dry” – or alcohol free – to being “wet”. Before the Piopio Tavern opened its doors in 1955 there were “sly” grog houses where thirsty locals could have a cold one. The Sly Grog Alley was literally an alley where punters could sneak off for a quiet beer during the festival.

Other events during the festival include the Kindy Duck Race, lamb and wine food stalls, the “Lucky Ewe” shopper competition which had more than $2000 worth of shopping vouchers up for grabs. Street entertainment included carnival rides, street performers and local musicians – in fact, there was something for everyone.

New Zealand Shearing Championship programme
The programme featured wool handling during the day on Thursday 31 March, with Speed Shear/Speed Pressing in the evening.

Friday was the day for Novice, Junior, Intermediate and Senior Heats and Finals, and NISOY Round 1 and the Contractors Relay. The evening programme included the Senior Woolhandling Final, Intermediate Shearing Final, Inter-Island Shearing and Woolhandling Challenge, Contractors Final and the NISOY Final.

On Saturday, the excitement mounted with the Senior events during the day and in the evening the Senior Final, Icon Circuit Final, Open Plate Speed Shear, Brothers Event, Warrnambool vs NZ Shears, Open Woolhandling Final and the Open Final.

The programme concluded with the presentation of prizes with Lynn of Tawa as the special guest, and a social function to follow.

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