Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Golden Shears

New Zealand loves its sheep.
Much of our prosperity was built around the production and export of quality lamb and wool (and much of Aussies' kiwi joke repertoire is about our supposed "intimate association" with the woolly creatures!).
The major event on the sheep industry's calendar each year is The Golden Shears. This competition is an icon of the NZ shearing and wool-handling industry.
Its origins go back to 1958, when members of the Wairarapa Young Farmers’ Club had the idea of holdng a shearing competition at the annual Agricultural and Pastoral Show. Shearers came from all over the country to compete. The competition was such a success that the organisers decided to take it to another level.
World champ, kiwi Cam Ferguson
The Wairarapa branch of Federated Farmers was approached to help run this competition. A bigger venue, Masterton War Memorial Stadium, was secured and the name Golden Shears was agreed upon. The inaugural up-scaled event was held today in history - 21st.April 1961 - with nearly 300 shearers from NZ and Australia, including the legendary Godfrey Bowen, taking part (his brother Ivan was the first Golden Shears champion). The event surpassed all expectations with crowds so great, the army was called in to control crowds around the stadium!
The Legend - David Fagan
Through the 1960s and 70s, before the impact of live sport on TV, the fascination and excitement of Golden Shears ensured seats were booked 12mths ahead! Competition between shearers was fierce. Many of our great champions, like David Fagan (as well as being World Champion, he's also won the Shears a record 16 times!), Snow Quinn, Roger Cox and Martin Ngataki, engraved their names in the record books.
By the late 1970s, shearing had entered the world of professionalism. With more competitions, prize money and sponsorship involved, many shearers adopted the attitudes and training regimes of professional athletes, concepts never heard of in those early days.
The competition has come a long way from its humble origins, but The Golden Shears remains the world's premier shearing and wool-handling championships, and the ultimate prize for shearers in NZ.

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