The Alexandra-based members of the Swiss woolhandling and shearing team have arrived in France to compete in the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships next week.

Teams from around the world, including New Zealand, will compete in Le Dorat. The competitions take place on July 4-7.

Gabriela Schmidt-Morrell, of Alexandra, owns Dion Morrell Shearing with husband Dion, and she and daughter Charis (13) represented Switzerland in the world championships in Invercargill in 2017.

Schmidt-Morrell is pleased to have her home country represented in this year's championships and is the team manager.


The team consists of shearers Simon Zaugg and Andy Meister, and woolhandlers Jael Hertach (all from Switzerland) and Charis Morrell.

Schmidt-Morrell and her two daughters, Charis and Jelena, left New Zealand on June 1 to visit her family in Cazis, in the southeast of Switzerland.

''That is where we are based, but we are travelling around a bit, visiting friends and relatives and having a look around, especially the mountains,'' she said.

They struggled to find sheep to practise on, but Meister managed to organise a small mob.

Southern Rural Life spoke to Schmidt-Morrell at 3am last Friday, and they were up and preparing to drive for three hours to the other side of Switzerland to reach the sheep.

''The industry is pretty small. There are not many sheep in Switzerland, and the mobs are small, and it [shearing] is often done outside,'' she said.

''Most sheep are on the Alps now for the summer and are not shorn this time of the year.''

Morrell had made woolhandling brooms with Swiss insignia for the 2017 competition and they took them on the plane to use in this year's event.


''Our mental and physical prep was done before our trip to Switzerland and we get together a day early as a team and discuss a few things,'' she said.

''Mostly, each team member does their own preparation.

''Most of us are used to doing competition of some sort, so the mental preparation is much the same in any sport.''

Charis looked forward to going to France and was excited about the trip.

''She can't wait, but she is also busy here with her cousins and doing some school work as well.

Schmidt-Morrell said they had been contacted by one of the sheep associations in Switzerland.

''Hopefully they will be at the champs with a delegation.

''We are also receiving some sponsorship from Heiniger, which we appreciate,'' she said.

Mr Morrell's daughter, Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, is part of the New Zealand shearing and woolhandling team and will compete at Le Dorat.

Schmidt-Morrell said she had been in England to working hard to prepare for the championships.

Karauria teams up with woolhandling great Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape.

The six-strong team, which also includes Hawke's Bay machine shearers Cam Ferguson and Rowland Smith and South Canterbury blade shearers Tony Dobbs and Allan Oldfield, intended to gather for the first time at the Lochearnhead Shears in Scotland this as a warm-up for the Le Dorat event.

New Zealand last won at the world championships in Invercargill in 2017, when Gisborne pair Joel Henare and Maryanne Baty won the team title and were first and second respectively in the individual event.

Karauria suffered potentially life-threatening injuries in a crash in which two workmates died, when she was 19.

She bounced back to successfully mix woolhandling and shearing. She has 21 open woolhandling wins and also senior competition shearing wins, including this year's Golden Shears women's event.