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They're our team: Shearing day out for World champs hopes

Veteran Hawke’s Bay shearer Charlie Aramukutu was never a contender for the Allflex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling Team.

But he and about 40 other workmates and friends will still feel a big part of it after a massive shearing big day out which raised $12,000,to take the weight off the shoulders of Hawke’s Bay guns Rowland Smith and Cam Ferguson during a five-week Northern Hemisphere tour, focused on the 18th World shearing and woolhandling championships on July 1-7 in Le Dorat, Central France.

Joined by woolhandlers Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, and Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape, and Canterbury bladeshearers Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie, and Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine, the team will be out to at least match the results of the 2017 World championships in Invercargill where New Zealand had a cleansweep of the machines shearing and woolhandling individual and teams titles.

Following the championships, Smith, of Maraekakaho, near Hastings, and Ferguson, of Waipawa, will stay in the Northern Hemisphere for a four-test series later in January against Wales.

While sponsors, championships organisers and national body Shearing Sports New Zealand provide travel and accommodation, Hawke’s Bay shearing contractor Colin Watson Paul saw a need to further help the machine shearers in their longer stay away, while still having the usual weekly responsibilities to family and businesses back home.

He said it matched the way rural communities came together to support All Blacks and other national sports representatives before the professional era.

More than 3000 hoggets were shorn in the big day out in three Brownrigg Agriculture woolsheds around Pukehou on June 8. Watson Paul, who hopes similar events will be held to support national teams for other World championships in the future, said it was Hawke’s Bay’s way of sending-off its own.

“If one of them wins,” he said amid the woolflying flurry of the afternoon, the weather outside having turned from a warm and fine morning to a dark and cold afternoon, “these guys are going to be rapt. It makes them feel a part of it.”

“Who else, what other job, would everyone come out and do a day’s work on a Saturday for noting,” said Aramakutu. “It couldn’t be for a better cause.”

It’s the “love” of shearing and the industry that brings them out.

“We were all born in the industry,” he said, looking around the seven, mainly longer serving crew in closest proximity. “There’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...Yes, eight of us. All born in the industry. We’ve been in it all our lives.”

The two guns shore, at the age of 64 Aramukutu shared a stand all day with fellow veteran Earl Tau. Smith’s brother, brother-in-law and mother-in-law shore. Australian shearer Josh “Waa” Clayton, working for Smith, was also among the shearers, as were two pupils of girls school Iona College, while others mixing it with the fulltime woolshed crews were members of Watson Paul’s Women in Wool group who are taking a step out of career such as dentistry, optometry, accountancy and finance by learning to shear for a charity event later this year.

Ferguson flew-out a couple of days later, and competed at the Royal Three Counties Show in England on Saturday, his first competition since being injured in a van crash about six weeks ago.

He reached the semi-final, and the event was won by England World Championships hopeful Stuart Connor.

The full team will gather fort the first time at the Lochearnhead Shears in Scotland on June 28-29.


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