At least seven pre-Christmas shearing sports competitions have been cancelled as the rural sector tries to combat the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.
Cancelled this year in the South Island were the New Zealand Merino championships, and the Ellesmere, Ashburton, Northern (Rangiora), and Marlborough shows. In the North Island, the Wairarapa and Manawatu shows were cancelled.
The New Zealand Agricultural Show (formerly known as the Canterbury A&P Show) in Christchurch was also cancelled, but its New Zealand Corriedale Shearing and Woolhandling Championships will still be held, in the Marble Point Station woolshed near Hanmer Springs.
The Great Raihania Shears at the Hawke's Bay Show will be held, with organisers last week reversing an earlier decision to cancel.
The season will start with the Waimate Spring Shears Shearing and Woolhandling Championships next week, at Waimate on October 9-10.
The latest to confirm going ahead is the Central Hawke's Bay A and P Show in Waipukurau on November 12-14.
A committee meeting of over 20 people discussed all aspects last night, with the shearing and woolhandling again expected to be a major feature on the last day.
Later shows Stratford, Taranaki and West Otago are all expected to go ahead if the Covid alert levels are unchanged.
Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan said that, like all sports and entertainment event managers, organisers of shearing sports competitions had faced uncertainty including what sort of competitions they could run, who could attend, the safety measures that might have to be put in place, and what sort of position their often long-standing sponsors would be in to support their events this year.
They also had to consider the situations of competitors shy of booking travel and accommodation for events that might have to cancel at the last minute if a coronavirus lockdown returned.
There were also some issues over availability of sheep, especially in areas hit by the drought.
Where competitions were impacted by the cancellation of the A and P shows around them, some had considered other options, as had been done in the decision to stage the Corriedale Championships at another venue.
Fagan said he believed competitors "just want to get out there and compete", and it was a mark of the close-knit and committed nature of the shearing community that competitors had said to some organisers that if prizemoney had to be reduced it would "not stop them from coming".
There had been no competitions since mid-March, almost no travel abroad to shear, and the cancellation of the annual New Zealand shearing team tour of the UK, and competitors were "jumping out of their skins" to get events going again.
"It is a big part of the whole shearing and wool industry," he said.
Fagan urged competitions faced with making "the decision" to make sure they had all possible information available, including as soon as possible establishing what Covid support and recovery funds might be available to help.
The calendar of events before Christmas is:
• October 9-10 (Fri-Sat) - NZ Spring Shears (National Circuit, Rds 1 and 2), at Waimate
• October 17 (Sat) - Poverty Bay A and P Show, at Gisborne.
• October 23 (Fri) - Great Raihania Shears Hawke's Bay, at Hastings.
• November 5-6 (Thurs-Fri) - Canterbury Shears (National Circuit, Rd 3), at Marble Point, Hanmer Springs.
• November 7 (Sat) - "Get to the Point", at Pleasant Point.
• November 14 (Sat) - Central Hawke's Bay A and P Show, at Waipukurau.
• November 21 (Sat) - Nelson A and P Show, at Richmond; West Otago A and P Show, at Tapanui.
• November 28 (Sat) - Taranaki Shears Stratford A and P Show, at Stratford.