Fifty workers, two cooks, 42,000 ewes, 25,000 lambs, almost 1000 bales of wool and at least two weeks.

Thirty chickens, 30 sheep, two deer, six pigs, two boxes of fish and a whopping 300kg of spuds plus all the other vegetables.

Shearers are notorious for their prodigious appetites but shearing at Apatu family-owned Ngamatea Station is several orders of magnitude above anywhere else in the North Island.

The huge station on the Napier-Taihape road at 25,000ha is the biggest in the North Island and the annual shear is a huge logistical exercise for the station's 16 staff and dogs. For Taihape contractor Rudy Lewis it means finding workers for the 18-stand shed.


Shearers, wool handlers, pressers, sheepos and the four shearers keep the crutching plant beneath the shed going. And three electric presses that are busy all day as the wool pours off.

Because it's such a drawcard, Rudy has no problem finding staff with some in reserve for the inevitable injuries resulting from handling the 70kg composite-breed ewes, known in the trade as "Taihape Tigers".

The bulky 34-micron wool has found a market in the US for padded winter jacket, mattress toppers and pillows.