Crossing the ditch to experience Southland’s speed shearing scene has been well worthwhile for the Wagga Wagga Speed Shears Sport group.
The group holds its own speed shears event back in Australia, but manager Atareta Te Kanawa-Semenoff, who used to live in Gore, said it was a good time for the group to come to Southland and make the most of a full shearing event calendar.
Joined by videographer Rocky Wegner, she took two of the group’s shearers — Imran Sullivan and Lou Brown — to the Gore Speed Shears, Mataura Rugby Club speed shears and the Riversdale Shears held earlier this month.
‘‘Tactically it was quite hard for the boys as well, because the breed of sheep are different. How to hold them is different. What gear to use is different,’’ Ms Te Kanawa-Semenoff said.
Despite those challenges, they had some good results, with Mr Brown coming second in the Gore Speed Shears just hours after getting off his plane.
‘‘He was a 200th of a second behind the first competitor.
‘‘It was pretty amazing actually, because the guy that won it was New Zealand’s best speed shearer.’’
The four of them were spectators at the Southern Shears competition, she said.
The group formed only 10 months ago but already it had broken world records and travelled to shearing events in Australia and Wales.
Its trip to Southland would be part of an 11-part miniseries documentary Mr Wegner was working on.
‘‘He’s going to blog that really, because [the group has got] so big so fast,’’ Ms Te Kanawa-Semenoff said.
The trip had been busy but exciting.
‘‘What an amazing trip. We’ve felt so welcome.’’
It had been good exposure for the shearers, she said.
‘‘I think that they’re just excited to have this opportunity and meet more people and rub shoulders with some of the best.’’