Golden Shears president Sam Saunders, left, and past president and executive committee member Philip Morrison join in the set-up for this week’s Golden Shears in Masterton. PHOTO/SAM TATTERSFIELD

SAM TATTERSFIELD
sam.tattersfield@age.co.nz

Preparations for the biggest show in shearing are heating up with the first day of the 59th Golden Shears now only a day away.

Around 9000 sheep are whittled down to get the 3500 “cream of the sheep” to be shorn at Golden Shears, supplied by eight different farms.

Merinos are coming from as far away as Ranfurly in Central Otago.

“We’re always on the lookout for new sheep,” Golden Shears President Sam Saunders said.

Saunders wasn’t shy about mucking in and helping set the stage for the shearing on Monday, with he and several other helpers, including past presidents – “people who’re involved” – getting stuck in at the Masterton War Memorial Stadium.

Organisers care about the competition and tend to stay involved, as past president and member of the executive committee Philip Morrison attested to.

He has been involved in Golden Shears since 1982, but was too busy to feel excited for this years’ spectacle yet – as we talked, he was counting the purse money for the event.

“It’s passion” that kept people like him involved in the sport, he said.

He said 230 volunteers doing specialised things ensured the whole event flowed smoothly – labourers helping set up the stage and sound system, pupils from nearby colleges helping wrangle the sheep on the night, people managing the crowds.

The liquidation of Taratahi Institute of Agriculture has added another challenge for organisers – Taratahi students have been behind the scenes managing the sheep since the inaugural Golden Shears in 1961.

Without that resource, Wairarapa College pupils will fill their places this year, joining pupils from Rathkeale College, who have helped at the Shears for the past few years.

Pupils would wrangle the sheep before shearing, and then tip them afterwards so judges can see their bellies and legs properly.

“Of course it feels bad,” Saunders said of the loss of Taratahi students. “But it’s out of our control – and theirs.”



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