Alexandra shearing contractor and New Zealand Merino Shearing and Woolhandling championships committee president Dion Morrell had voted for another person to receive the inaugural Murray McSkimming memorial trophy, and was shocked when he realised he was the recipient.

''We had voted in a secret ballot on who we thought should get it,'' Mr Morrell said.

The award was made on Saturday evening at the New Zealand Merino Shearing competition in Alexandra.

The award was donated by the McSkimming family to honour shearer and contractor Murray McSkimming, who died last year.

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The award was made in recognition of someone who was respected and considered a role model within the industry.

''I didn't have any idea, and I wasn't really listening [when they announced it] as I was thinking about the next event,'' Mr Morrell said.

''It is a honour to get it,'' he said.

''However, we are all out there doing our best to make the industry a better place.''

Son Lane McSkimming said Mr Morrell had been selected as the inaugural recipient of the award. His father Murray had held him in high regard, not only as a merino shearer but as a person as well.

''He epitomised everything that is great about the merino shears industry,'' Mr McSkimming said.

''He is the ultimate role model and leader within the industry.

''For a number of years he has been one of the best fine wool shearers in New Zealand.

''He is really a great man and great for the industry.

''Dad would be happy he won the award.

''There was an incredible amount of respect between the two.''

Mr Morrell said the Merino Shearing competition was an extremely important event for Central Otago and for encouraging young people to upskill.

He has been involved with the event for the past 20 years but intends to step down as president later this year.

As contractors, he and his wife Gabriela Schmidt-Morrell employ about 50 staff and shear throughout Otago.

Mr Morrell has been shearing since leaving school and held several shearing records and encourages young people to train and progress in the industry.

''I am busy enough with the business and I want to focus on that and my young family.''

He was pleased to see Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford win the open competition for the second time in three years and daughter Pagan Karauria win the open woolhandling event.

He said competitors came from all over New Zealand as well as France, and there were six or seven Australians taking part as well.

That included shearer Damien Boyle, who won seven out of the past eight Merino Shears competitions and placed second to Mr Stratford.

''It is good for us when he comes over as we want to compete against the best.''

His staff also placed first and third in the novice woolhandling section, fourth in the junior woolhandling and third in the teams event.