The 2019-2020 shearing sports season is all but over with the New Zealand Shears national shearing and woolhandling championships joining the growing list of events cancelled because of the Covid-19 crisis.
The cancellation of the country's second-biggest shearing sports competition, held annually in Te Kuiti's Les Munro Centre since 1985, was announced last night by organising president Claire Grainger.
The decision to cancel the championships was unanimous, Grainger said.
The championships were to have been held on April 2-4, with up to 200 competitors, near sold-out evening sessions, and thousands of visitors in the King Country town for the Shears and associated events including the Great New Zealand Muster, modelled Pamplona's Running of the Bulls, with thousands of sheep flocking through the main street.
Grainger said the cancellation is in line with Government guidelines around mass gatherings.
"It is with regret that we announce this decision, but the safety of everyone involved is our priority," she said
Six of the last nine shows in what was once a 59-show Shearing Sports New Zealand season have now been cancelled, including the Royal Easter Show in Auckland.
Also cancelled are four events which were to have been held this weekend, Saturday's Warkworth and Methven A and P shows, and Sunday's Waitomo Sports and Flaxbourne A and P Show.
Organisers of the Waimarino Shears have decided to go ahead with their event in Raetihi on Saturday, confident they can meet controls needed for the event to be staged but monitoring the situation as it changes throughout the country.
Organisers of the Oxford A and P Show on April 4 and the Mackenzie A and P Show, which incorporates the national lamb shearing championships on Easter Monday, are expecting to make decisions over the next two days.
Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan said there will be no New Zealand shearing team tour of the UK this year, with the selection events at Te Kuiti now not being held, restrictions on international travel and likelihood the crisis would also lead to cancellation of events in Britain.
"The decision was expected with what's happening in New Zealand, and internationally," he said.
"There were the regulations, and it's morally the right thing to do."