Graeme Bell started going to the New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships "almost by accident", sneaking in as a young boy to watch the best in the industry compete in shearing and woolhandling.

Mr Bell, a life member of the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society (NZMSS), a committee member for the annual shearing championships and a long-serving woolhandling judge, is believed to be the only person who has attended all 57 championships.

Mr Bell, of Alexandra, said he started attending the events "a little bit by accident".

"We lived across the road from the town hall where they were held and I was just a young, little lad and I used to wag school and go, and I got involved that way. And that involvement has led to a long career with the wool industry".


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Other shearing industry greats were also honoured during last weekend's championships.

NZMSS president and high profile shearing contractor Dion Morrell received the inaugural Murray McSkimming Trophy during Saturday night's prizegiving.

The late Mr McSkimming had been an integral part of the NZMSS committee and also the first winner of the New Zealand Fine Wool Shearing Championship.

His family chose the recipient of the trophy, in collaboration with NZMSS representatives.

Southland shearer Nathan Stratford took out the open shearing title, narrowly winning over Australia's Damien Boyle, who has won seven open titles.

Alexandra's Pagan Karauria won the open woolhandling title and was also awarded Master Woolhandler status.

New Zealand beat Australia in the transtasman invitation test, having also beat Australia at the recent Perth Royal Show Challenge in Australia.