Charlie Aramakutu has been a shearer more than 50 years and is looking forward to getting on to the Government payroll next year.

But he won't be chucking in the shearing, which he enjoys so much he'll even do it for free.

The Hastings veteran and about 40 other woolshed crew spent a recent Saturday shearing 3088 Brownrigg Agriculture hoggets — all proceeds (about $12,000) going to Hawke's Bay guns Rowland Smith and Cam Ferguson heading to France for the World Shearing and Woolhandling championships.

With three woolsheds in use near Poukawa, Aramakutu and fellow veteran Earl Tai held down one of the 13 stands.


"It couldn't be for a better cause," said Aramakutu as the crew settled down for a well-earned beer after the big day, at three Brownrigg Agriculture woolsheds.

At least 20 people were shearing during the day, including the two guns, who have both been World champions. Among the others were regular workmates, including veterans like Aramakutu, Smith's brother Doug and mother-in-law and fellow farmer and shearing record holder Marg Baynes, and Australian shearer Josh "Waa" Clayton, who in April unsuccessfully tackled a world merino shearing record near his home town in New South Wales.

But they weren't all vastly experienced woolshed pros. Others included Woodville butcher John Shannon, who "brought the sausages" and ended up doing some pressing, two Iona College girls who have learned to shear, and members of contractor Colin Watson Paul's Women in Wool group who are taking a step out of careers such as dentistry, optometry, accountancy and finance by learning to shear for a charity event later this year.

Some of them also "did the baking", Watson Paul said, while the rest of the hard work — the woolhandling, pressing and yarding and penning — was also done by people who gave up their time to support the hopefuls.

Veteran Charlie Aramakutu has been a shearer more than 50 years.
Veteran Charlie Aramakutu has been a shearer more than 50 years.

Aramakutu, who has worked for Watson Paul for about 16 years, had no hesitation when Watson Paul walked into a shed a couple of weeks ago and asked him if the big day was possible and if he'd be in.

The boss knew Aramakutu couldn't resist and Watson Paul, who has organised similar days for charity such as cancer research, said Charlie's always there.

"It's very seldom he doesn't come to one of these. If one of them wins," he said amid the woolflying flurry of the afternoon, "these guys are going to be rapt. It makes them feel a part of it."

Aramakutu just loves the shearing industry, as do the others leaning on the press and bales around the shed, and says it's the family thing that gets them all out to support two shearers they've almost all worked with.


"We were all born in the industry," he said, looking around the seven, mainly longer serving crew. "There's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ... Yes, eight of us. All born in the industry. We've been in it all our lives."

With a few shakes of hands, Ferguson's out the door a little early to do another fundraiser the next day so that 18-year-old daughter Axion can be on the plane with him when he flies out on Tuesday.

About $12,000 was raised on the Saturday for the two shearers to make up for their loss of income while away representing their country. Ferguson is away for seven weeks and Smith leaves on June 22, also until the end of next month.

The Allflex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling team, which also includes two woolhandlers and two blade shearers, gathers in Lochearnhead for the Scottish blackface championships on June 28-29, when there will be a shearing test match against Scotland, and then heads for the world championships in Le Dorat, France, the following week.

Smith and Ferguson will remain in the UK for a four-test series against Wales from July 19-27, including the Royal Welsh Show, where Ferguson won his World title in 2010. Smith won his title in Ireland in 2014.