Taihape teacher and woolhandler Sheree Alabaster has won her fourth world title at the 18th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in France.

Alabaster and Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, were the top woolhandling team, maintaining New Zealand's stranglehold on the title, after the victory by Joel Henare and Maryanne Baty in Invercargill two years ago.

Karauria was third in the individual final won by Aled Jones, of Wales, and Alabaster was fourth.

Alabaster's other world titles were in the individual and team woolhandling events in Norway in 2008, and in the team event in Wales in 2010. She has too many New Zealand titles to count.


Karauria, in her first world championships, had a big week. She won the French All-Nations warm-up event and made the All-Nations Senior shearing final.

The two were members of the Allflex New Zealand shearing and woolhandling team who dominated the last day of the championships by winning three of the six titles at Le Dorat in Central France.

Pride of place went to Canterbury blade shearers Allan Oldfield and Tony Dobbs who scored a double, causing a boilover by beating previous regular champions South Africa in the teams final and then finishing first and fourth respectively in the individual championship, with Oldfield beating defending champion Mayenseke Shweni.

Dobbs had previously won the individual title at the 1988 World championships in Masterton, but Oldfield, not born till two years later, was at his first World championships and stunned the South Africans, and Dobbs, by shearing the six sheep in 14min 12min 29sec, two minutes and 19seconds before second-man-off Shweni.

It was, however, only the third time in the 18 championships since the first in 1977 that New Zealand did not win either of the two machine shearing titles.

Hawke's Bay shearers Rowland Smith (the 2014 champion) and Cam Ferguson (the 2010 winner) were third in the teams event won by Scottish shearers Gavin Mutch and Calum Shaw, and were second and third in the individual event won by Richard Jones, of Wales.

But it was particularly close call in the individual event, after Smith and Ferguson were the first two to finish the 20-sheep contest, 10 seconds apart with Northland-raised Smith clocking 14min 32sec. Jones was over a sheep in arrears but pulled back crucial points in pen judging and beat Smith to the title by just 0.15pts.

The teams event was a big moment for Scotland, which will host the next championships at the 20th anniversary Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh in 2022.


New Zealand team manager Ken Payne, of Balclutha, said those who work in the woolsheds in New Zealand are used to tough conditions, but the conditions of the competition in France tested them further.

"Although New Zealand had won four titles in Invercargill two years ago, there were no foregone conclusions about this trip," he said.

"We always knew the different sheep breeds and types of wool would be a challenge, then there was the heatwave across Europe – about which we heard plenty while we were in Scotland for the Lochearnhead Shears beforehand."

"There were long days, up at 6am and not home before 10pm, and I think everyone had difficulty sleeping, because of the heat. It was 32C at 1am on our first night"