Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Record Number Of Fine Wool Fleece Entries At Wānaka A&P Show

Fine wool growers behind some of the country’s most iconic Merino brands will be vying for a coveted industry award at the Wānaka A&P Show next week.

A record 236 fleece entries have been received for the prestigious New Zealand Fine Wool Supreme Fleece competition – with judges blown away by the quality of fleeces and interest from major wool growers across the South Island ahead of this year’s event.

Competition entries often come from properties with working contracts to internationally-recognised brands such as Devold, Icebreaker, Mons Royale, Smartwool, First Lite and Global Merino.

“It’s New Zealand’s gold medal of NZ fine wool fleeces,” New Zealand Fine Wool Supreme Fleece judge Craig Smith explains. “It’s an opportunity to show the rest of the world how good our wool is from the original source – stud farms and flock properties.”

The Wānaka A&P Show introduced the competition at the 2023 Show and interest has grown from there. This year, fleeces from more than 53 South Island properties will be judged over the coming days and the winning fleece on public display at the Wānaka Showgrounds, on March 8-9.

Fleece entries are judged based on strict trade requirements and verified by the New Zealand Wool Testing Authority, in an initial judging process, beginning February 22. The second stage of judging occurs – during the week of the Show – with meticulous visual checks by wool experts and Show judges, Craig Smith and Peter McCusker.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Smith says deciding the winner will be challenging.

“I’ve never said this before and I don’t say this lightly, but I think we will have a perfect, 100-point fleece in this competition,” he says. “Breeding the perfect fleece is about feeding the sheep consistently all year round, as well as genetics and climatic conditions. This year’s entries demonstrate that what the growers have been feeding their sheep has aligned well with the climatic conditions and genetics, to prove that there is this magical perfect, 100-point fleece in there.”

The public can come into the Woolshed and touch the fleece, while learning about the wool-garment process. Growers also visit the Wānaka A&P Show to assess the types of wool currently available on the market.

Upper Clutha A&P Society president Martin Peterson, who has more than 40 years working in the wool industry, adds: “This year’s entries have to be the largest number of fine wool supreme fleeces I have ever seen, and I’ve been to wool exhibitions in Uruguay, Argentina, England, Scotland, Australia, South Africa and NZ. These entries are the best of the best of what we have in NZ.”

Meanwhile, three top international agricultural judges have been confirmed for the 2024 Wānaka A&P Show.

Australian sheep farm manager David Zouch will be judging the superfine merino competition, while New South Wales stud owner John Bensley will be judging the other categories in the Merino Arena. England-based Sarah Smith – a prominent international show judge for more than 40 years – will judge the equestrian categories.

Wānaka A&P Show livestock manager Fe Howie says the judges bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to this year’s event.

“We are delighted to be hosting these high-calibre judges at the 87th Wānaka A&P Show,” she says. “All are experts in their categories and I’m sure they will provide some valuable feedback for this year’s entrants.”

Gates to the Wānaka A&P Show open 8.30am-5.00pm on Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9. Tickets can be purchased online for $22.50 per adult from February 1, or $40 per adult and $15 per youth (13-17 years) for two days. Children aged 12 and under are free.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.