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Shear joy: World champs to return

The 2026 Golden Shears World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships will be held in the hometown of the competition for the first time in more than a decade.

The announcement that Masterton will host the event was made at the Golden Shears World Council meeting in Edinburgh yesterday, on the eve the 2023 championships at the Royal Highland Show.

Golden Shears vice president Trish Stevens said the committee are “elated” at the news, following an anxious wait since putting a bid in early this year.

“It’s exciting to be putting Masterton on the world stage again. We haven’t had it since 2012,” event administrator Deb Keats added.

Masterton Mayor Gary Caffell said it is “superb news” the international event will be hosted by the town – “It’s a really great day for Masterton”.

Caffell said the quality and standard of shearing will be outstanding, with a “little bit more edge to it”.

Caffell urged locals and business owners to “get in behind” promoting and financially supporting the event, and added that Masterton District Council will consider facilitating related events and promotion.

The event is expected to be held over four days [March 4-7, 2026] in conjunction with the Golden Shears International Shearing and Woolhandling Championships, which have been held in Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium annually since 1961, apart from covid-era cancellations in 2021 and 2022.

First held in England in 1977, the World Championships have since been hosted in New Zealand five times – in Masterton in 1980, 1988, 1996, and 2012, and in Invercargill in 2017.

Stevens said it is particularly exciting to have the World Championships here after covid-19 put the local competition out to pasture for two years.

Keats said the event will be great for the local economy: “People will go back to wherever they’ve come from and talk about how much of a great time they’ve had.”

Stevens said the competition could allow some New Zealand shearers to compete at an international level for the first time, something that is often hard to access because of travel requirements and other commitments.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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