Hundreds of shearers and woolhandlers are gathering in Wairarapa for the 59th Golden Shears international shearing and woolhandling championships which start tomorrow.

The three-day glamour event of the shearing sports will be held in Masterton's War Memorial Stadium, as it has since the even was first held in 1961.

Back then, immediate interest was such that local territorial force volunteers had to be used for crowd control when it was booked out on the final night.

It left hundreds outside to watch what was possibly New Zealand's first version of live-streaming – a tv set propped up in the foyers as fans watched through the windows from outside.


There has now been the modern and increasingly sophisticated live-streaming for several years, with more than 20 titles being decided in front of viewers around the world.

Read more about shearing events here.

The glamour event remains the Golden Shears open shearing championship which has made household names of such winners as Brian "Snow" Quinn, Sir David Fagan and Hawke's Bay gun Rowland Smith, who goes in as the hottest-ever Golden Shears TAB favourite, paying $1.30 when betting opened at the weekend.

Smith has won all 11 finals he's contested since resuming on January 19, and will be chasing his 6th Golden Shears open win, and with it a place at this year's World Championships in Le Dorat, France, in July.

The top woolhandlers have two big goals, the open woolhandling title and a selection series final to find two woolhandling representatives for the World Championships.

The open shearing and both big wooolhandling finals will be held on Saturday night, the favourite for both woolhandling events being defending champion and reigning world champion Joel Henare, from Gisborne.

Other features include a transtasman woolhandling test on Friday night, and a shearing test on Saturday night in which New Zealand's hopes of gaining some long-awaited ascendancy have come with the absence of South Australian shearer Shannon Warnest from the Australian team.

Warnest is the most successful shearer in the history of the tests which date back to the first shearing test in Australia in 1974.


Competition will be held throughout other grades from novice to senior, with a women's event also being held, using points from lower grade events to find a field of six to compete for the top honour.

There will also be woolpressing events, and the YFC's Open championship and shearing and woolhandling teams event.

Woolhandlers are today at the Pre-Shears Woolhandling Championships in a woolshed north of Masterton.

The Golden Shears and the Pre-Shears event are among about 60 competitions held throughout the summer, about two thirds at A and P shows.