New Zealand's unique position of recognising shearing and woolhandling competitions as sport is being cited in a bid to achieve similar status in Australia.

The call is being made ahead of this week's transtasman test matches during the three-day Australian National Championships starting on Thursday in Dubbo, NSW.

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The region's mayor Ben Shields said it's one area in which Kiwis outdo the Aussies, with New Zealand shearers treated "like rock stars", alongside such sports as rugby and the All Blacks.


"These guys spend hours on end practising, working through the heat of the day. Shearing is such a demanding activity which is why we'd love to see it listed as a national sport" said Shields.

While Shearing Sports New Zealand has had official sport status for more than 25 years, with the Government sports agency now known as Sport New Zealand, Sports Shear Australia has still not got the nod from the Australian Sports Commission.

The Commission has almost 100 national sports organisations on it is books, including artistic swimming, multiple variations of martial arts associations, dance sports, and bocce and wheelchair-variation boccia.

More than half receive Government-sourced funding, although the focus is on Olympic and Commonwealth games sports and medal targets.

Sport New Zealand recognises about 70 sports, but Shearing Sports in New Zealand is one of a small number not currently funded, although it has received funding in the past, mainly based around World Championships.

Sports Shear Australia secretary Stephanie Brooker-Jones said the organisation had been to Parliament to apply and was currently "filling in the gaps" of the application form which was amended about 10 months ago.

New Zealand Shearing Magazine editor Des Williams initiated shearing's recognition in New Zealand, becoming the National Shearing and Woolhandling Committee's first publicity officer in 1991 and instigating the change to a more formal structure as Shearing Sports New Zealand.

Read more shearing articles here.


In January 1993 Williams headed to Wellington to gain acceptance from Chris Ineson, the CEO of what was then the New Zealand Sports Foundation.

Ineson accepted that as a sport achieving first, second, and third placings at international events, shearing warranted funding, and later in the year it was successful with its first application said Williams.

Shearing Sports New Zealand teams are currently funded only by sponsorship and through the sport, including support from the independently-run competitions throughout the country.

The current squad of seven, including five from the South Island, contest three tests across the disciplines of machine shearing, blade shearing and woolhandling in Dubbo on Friday.

The machine shearing team comprises Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill, Paerata Abraham, of Masterton, and currently Canterbury-based Troy Pyper, from Invercargill, the rest of the party being made-up of the world champion pairings of blade shearers Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine, and Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie, and woolhandlers Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, and Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape.

Australia has held the upperhand in the machine shearing tests in recent years, including several wins at the New Zealand leg the Golden Shears, but the New Zealanders have dominated the woolhandling and blade shearing matches.