Thousands of sheep are being shorn in a major cancer fundraiser in a Hawke’s Bay woolshed today despite rain which has enveloped the area over much of the last two days.
The Shearing Big Day Out is taking place at Waitara Station, north of the State Highway 5 landmark of Te Pohue, between Napier and Taupo.
The team comprised several of New Zealand’s top shearers, including World champion, Hastings gun and Northland-raised Rowland Smith, and reigning 2012 shearing and woolhandling champions Gavin Mutch and Joel Henare, both now defending Golden Shears champions.
Also on the stands were photos of people lost to the shearing industry because of cancer, including multiple World and Golden Shears woolhandling champion Joanne Kumeroa who died last year and for whom a tombstone unveiling was held in Whanganui on Sunday.
The day started at 5am with a target of 5000 perendale ewes, expected to fill about 100 bales. It is, however, not a record attempt, although two unrelated official shearing record attempts are taking place this week, near Masterton tomorrow (Tuesday) and near Te Kuiti on Thursday.
Co-ordinated by station owner and farmer Lloyd Holloway, Flaxmere shearing contractor Colin Watson Paul, and Pongaroa-based Heiniger shearing gear representative Tony Hoggard, the Big Day Out aims to raise $50,000 for the Cancer Society.
The money is from wages and donation, contributed by those at the event as well as some shearing gangs in other parts of the country and by donations to the cause.
The eight shearers on board for the first run from 5am to 7am shore almost 1000 sheep, but with the weather closing-in around the woolshed, and a growing number of wet sheep to contend with, the rate per hour decreased and in the five-and-a-half hours to lunch the tally had reached 2302.
Several hundred people were at the property despite the weather, including campervan tourists who had included the event on their itineraries.
Mr Hoggard said the idea was developed when its eventual organisers learnt the Cancer Society receives no Government funding.
Society Hawke’s Bay area manager Trudy Kirk said the society, from major fundraising events such as Daffodil Day and the Relay for Life, contributes $2 million a year to Cancer research.
"A lot of it comes when people like Tony, Colin and Lloyd walk throughout the door and say we want to do something to help," she said.
"While this is a fundraiser this is something more than that for the shearing fraternity," she said.
The enthusiasm was not dampened by the weather, with many hoping it will become an annual event.