29 Feb 2024

Golden Shears competition gets underway in Masterton

8:03 am on 29 February 2024
Competitors in the Golden Shears contest on 4 March, 2023.

Competitors in the Golden Shears contest on 4 March, 2023. Photo: Supplied / Pete Nikolaison

The 'Wimbledon' of shearing is officially underway, with the Golden Shears competition beginning in Masterton on Thursday morning.

About 500 shearers and wool-handlers taking part in the three-day event - an increase of 25 percent on the previous year.

The increased number of entries is due to a higher number of overseas shearers working in New Zealand this summer, with crews from Australia, Scotland, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, France and Germany and even Mongolia taking part.

New Golden Shears International Shearing Championships Society president Trish Stevens said they were absolutely overwhelmed.

"We are particularly pleased with the numbers of novice and junior entries. The novice shearing, junior shearing and novice woolhandling [entries] have all reached capacity."

Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan, who has a record 16 titles from the Golden Shears, said he was so excited by the numbers that he considered entering again.

But with a strong number of entries comes the need for a lot of sheep.

Organisers have arranged for 3500 sheep to be ready for shearing, while most are Romney sourced from Wairarapa farms, there will also be Merinos from Maniatoto and Corriedales from Taihape.

Golden Shears final showdown, 2023. Joel Henare open woolhandling final

Golden Shears final showdown, 2023. Joel Henare open woolhandling final Photo: PETE NIKOLAISON

Stevens said the sheep were held briefly in covered pens behind Masterton's War Memorial Stadium until they were needed and returned to where they came from after shearing.

Their fleeces are sent to wool brokers on behalf of the farmers.

"We have a team of volunteers who ensure the sheep are transported to the stadium and returned to the right farm. It's a huge operation and a real skill to ensure it all goes smoothly," Stevens said.

The Golden Shears is being livestreamed.

This year, Noise Productions, responsible for streaming the competition, has installed six new cameras above the shearing stools.

Spokesperson Toby Mills said the cameras were focused solely on the sheep - tracking their movements.

"We've always had cameras above the stall, but the problem is the shearers are moving so much, they often are only half in shot or are covering most of the action - these new cameras will hopefully show people more of the action," Mills said.

"Competitive shearing is an unusual sport, a lot of people have seen it - so we are trying to make it as exciting as possible."

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