Switzerland now has a full team for the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Le Dorat, France in July, thanks to a recent recruit who arrived in New Zealand last month.

Gabriela Schmidt-Morrell, of Alexandra, and her husband Dion own Dion Morrell Shearing.

Mrs Schmidt-Morrell was keen to have her home country Switzerland represented in the world championships and as team manager, she had already found two Swiss shearers, but needed an additional woolhandler.

She and daughter Charis Morrell (13) represented Switzerland in the woolhandling at the world championships in Invercargill two years ago.


She preferred to be the team manager, while Charis wanted to compete in the woolhandling again, so one more woolhandler was needed.

That is where Jael Hertach comes in.

She is from Switzerland and applied for the position after hearing about the role, despite having no experience in woolhandling or shearing.

An agricultural student studying for an agricultural women's degree in Switzerland, her parents have a flock of 40 sheep and also raise pigs.

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She was keen to return to New Zealand after spending a working holiday here in 2017.

''I was looking for a new job to do with sheep and saw Gabriela's post,'' Hertach said.

''It just fell into place.


''I had no idea where the Morrells were, but I felt I should do it.''

Hertach has spent the past month working for the Morrells to learn the necessary woolhandling and shed operation skills.

''I didn't know what it was like and wanted to know what the culture was and to get more experience,'' she said.

''She started from scratch,'' Schmidt-Morrell said.

''We have already done two competitions in Gore and Balclutha, and we didn't come last.

''We think we will get better in time.''

Two Swiss shearers, Simon Zaugg, a shepherd and shearer, and Andy Meister, a farmer and shearer, have been working for the Morrells for practise and have already returned to their home country.

They competed in an intermediate shearing competition in Lumsden earlier this year and made it into the finals in that category.

''We think they were the first Swiss shearers to make it into a final in New Zealand,'' Mrs Schmidt-Morrell said.

Hertach is to return to Switzerland shortly, and they will meet again later in the year for more training before going to France to compete in the All Nations event as well as the championships.

Charis is excited to visit France and is keen to see the Eiffel Tower, although she has been told there might not be sufficient time to do so, as they are only in the country for a week and most of that time will be taken up with training and competing.

''Our goal to be better than the middle and not the bottom,'' Charis said.

Schmidt-Morrell said they were looking forward to it as the world championships were ''lots of fun, awesome and a great experience.''

She was looking forward to experiencing the French culture.