Before politics, he was a farmer - and now Prime Minister Bill English is due to show off his shearing skills against the world's best shearers.

English will take to the stage at this year's 2017 World Shearing and Wool-handling Championships, in Invercargill, tomorrow.

His appearance honours a promise made last year when the world's most decorated sheep shearer, Sir David Fagan, called English out to a shearing showdown.

English agreed and Fagan said they were looking forward to the PM showing off his shearing skills - which will also be the first time a world leader has taken part in such an event, he said.


"We're rapt. He's always been supportive of agriculture and our industry and sport.

"To have the PM support the event - let alone have him take up the challenge of shearing a sheep - is pretty impressive."

Fagan said he had seen the new PM shear before and promised: "He's going to do very well.''

A statement by organisers said it was not yet known how many sheep Fagan would shear tomorrow.

English will shear one sheep.

"The Prime Minister's Office's initial offer of a 10 to 1 ratio has been denied by the World Championships,'' the statement said.