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Celebrities to help celebrate 20th Shearing Champs


Celebrities to help celebrate 20th NZ Shearing Champs

Rugby greats Colin Meads, Brian Lochore and Peter Fitzsimons are competing in a special event to mark the 20th anniversary of the New Zealand Shearing Championships.

The Championships are one of the world's largest shearing events and are being held in Te Kuiti from April 1 to 3.

New Zealand Shearing Championships President John Grainger says to mark the 20th anniversary of the Championships a special 'Celebrity Shear-off' is being held between New Zealand rugby greats Colin Meads and Brian Lochore and Australian rugby star turned television personality Peter Fitzsimons.

"There are a number of other events planned to celebrate our 20th anniversary, but we expect the Celebrity Shear-off will be both entertaining and a huge crowd pleaser."

Mr Grainger says local shearing stars and brothers John and David Fagan will provide some expert tuition for the retired rugby players before the shear-off.

He says thousands of people are expected to converge on the small King Country town, crowned the 'Shearing Capital of the World' with its large statue of a shearer shearing a sheep, during the Championships.

"It is the region's single largest event and the whole district will be behind the local shearers, particularly defending champion, David Fagan, who will be competing for an unprecedented 14th New Zealand Shearing Championships title.

"David is a shearing superstar, being New Zealand's most successful shearer ever and he is still competing after 20 years at the top level in the sport," Mr Grainger says.

Fagan will be competing against about 90 other shearers all trying to progress through heats, quarter finals and semi-finals to the final. If he makes the final, he will need to shear 20 sheep faster and cleaner than the five other finalists to win his 14th open title and take home more than $4000 in cash and prizes.

Other special events planned for the Championships include a New Zealand versus Australia challenge, North Island versus South Island competition, knockout speed shear competition, as well as a range of shearing and woolhandling competitions.

A New Zealand team will be selected at the Championships to compete in Wales and Canada.

"The Championships are one of the last event's of the season and there's a lot at stake for our top shearers," says Mr Grainger.

Organised by a dedicated team of volunteers, the Championships are sponsored by Heiniger, FMG, DB, Merial, Ravensdown, Bayer NZ, Novartis, Air New Zealand, Primary Wools, Elco Direct, Pfizer Animal Health and Wrightson.

More than 300 shearers and woolhandlers are expected to enter, with entries closing on March 13.

Woolhandling and pressing events begin on April 1, with shearing heats, semi-finals and finals beginning on April 2 and the main event, the open final, on April 3.

Te Kuiti gets into the spirit of the Championships with a 'Muster', where local retailers dress up and offer bargains. There will be monster street stalls and sideshow entertainment down the town's main street.


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