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Volunteers To Be Recognised At Shearing Champs

Volunteers To Be Recognised At 20th Shearing Champs

Several New Zealand Shearing Championships volunteers are being recognised for their efforts with a special presentation at this year's event.

The recipients include current President John Grainger and past President John Fagan, who was the winner of the first New Zealand Shearing Championships in 1985 and a Championships founder. Both have been involved in organising each one of the 20 New Zealand Shearing Championships.

As part of the anniversary celebrations of this year's 20th Championships, the men will be presented with a special badge.

President John Grainger says the group of volunteers has driven the progress and development of the Championships from a one-day show to one of the world's largest shearing competitions attracting hundreds of competitors and thousands of spectators.

This year's Championships are being held in Te Kuiti from April 1 to 3, with a highlight being a 'Celebrity Shear-off' between rugby greats Colin Meads, Brian Lochore and Peter Fitzsimons.

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.

Mr Grainger, a former shearer and current livestock representative, says Te Kuiti was the ideal location to launch the Championships.

"Some of the best shearers in the world come from Te Kuiti and we wanted to develop an event that would add to that reputation."

He says the success of the Championships has enabled the committee to contribute to other activities supporting shearing in the King Country town, such as the development of a statue recognising Te Kuiti as the Shearing Capital of the World.

But launching the Championships was not easy.

"When we said we wanted to shear sheep in the town's Cultural & Arts Centre, people just about died.

"There were people that said a group of shearers would never be able to organise a competition, so we set out to do things just that bit better and more professionally." He is also confident the Championships have helped to lift the standard of shearing and also shearers.

"We were one of the first shows to up the profile of shearers from the image of the black singlet and jeans to blazers and dress trousers so the image of shearing and the people involved has changed in the 20 years.

"Shearing is a professional sport and career. People go to shear and they work hard. It's about the only business where you get paid for what you put out the porthole - you take a sweat towel to work and you actually use it."

He says he looks back with considerable pride on what the Championships have been able to achieve. "It has put Te Kuiti on the map for all the right reasons."

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