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Shears are out in Te Puna

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Some of the best shearers in the district – and even the country – will be heading down to Top Shot Bar in Te Puna on January 14 for the 17th annual Te Puna Speed Shear competition.

Around 100 lambs will have their coats shorn off at lightning speeds by competitors who can usually do at least three times that number by themselves in a day.

Organising committee member Maree Morton explains there’s three different grades in competitive shearing.

“There’s the Open shearers, who can shear more than 500 sheep a day; there are the Senior shearers, who can do between 300 and 500; and the Juniors, who shear under that.

“We only have the Seniors and the Opens in our competition, because we don’t have enough sheep – we’ve only got one truckload.”

She says the Open guys can be pretty fast, with a competitor shearing a lamb in 17.2 seconds one year.

“They’re all very competitive. The average time is around 22 seconds.”

It’s tough sport, requiring not just fitness, but skill.

“This is not for amateurs. You’re not allowed to compete unless you’re a registered shearer,” says Maree.

“You’ve got to do it fast, and well. You’re not allowed to pluck or pull the wool off either.”

The lambs are judged afterwards by three experts, who will then decide whether the shearing job passes muster.

Gary Sobye and Craig Morton shearing ewes.

It’s a popular event, and its 17-year run is a testimony to that. Maree says the younger shearers coming through have also seen a slight shift in the atmosphere, at least musically.

“It’s a very high-adrenaline competition. Normally we have live music, but the younger generation want a DJ to play music while they’re shearing this year.”

So expect something a little different at this Saturday’s competition.

The prizes are not to be sniffed at either, with $2000 awarded to the top Open shearer, and $1000 for the Senior division. Not too bad for shearing three lambs.

Maree would also like to thank Ray White Te Puna, Stihl Shop Tauranga and Waihi, RWR, Marshall Innovations, Silver Fern Clothing, Big Hill Hunting, Merial Products, Gallagher Fencing Products, Lion Breweries, and a good handful of locals who donate their time with set up and pack down.

“If it wasn’t for the local businesses that donate money and products we wouldn’t be able to run this each year.”

The event starts at 5.30pm, and entry is only a gold coin donation.


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