NEW Zealand shearers will make attempts on the men’s and women’s world eight-hour strong wool lamb shearing records in the country just eight days apart later this year.
The first will be near Gore on December 15 when Southland shearers Megan Whitehead and cousin Hannah McColl attempt a women’s record which will have gone unchallenged for 13 years.
The second record attempt will be near the Wairarapa rural locality Gladstone on December 23, when Masterton shearers Paerata Abraham and Chris Dickson attempt the men’s record that was set just five months ago.
Several possible record bids in Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand have been rumoured since a spate of 11 successes in 12 attempts in the last year, but World Sheep Shearing Records Society secretary Hugh McCarroll, of Tauranga, said only the two two-stand attempts had been confirmed at this stage.
Whitehead and McColl will attempt to break a record of 907 that was established by Wairoa mother-and-daughter Marg and Ingrid Baynes at Mangapehi, near Bennydale, in January 2009.
During that day, Ingrid Baynes (now married to champion shearer Rowland Smith) set a women’s solo record of 470, a record since bettered three times and now held by King Country shearer Sacha Bond, who shore 601 in Northern Southland on February 4 this year.
Whitehead is already a holder of two nine-hours women’s lambs shearinng records, as the fastest in a four-stand record near Turangi in January 2020, and the solo record of 661, shorn in Southland in January 2021.
Abraham and Dickson are targeting a record of 1410 set by Simon Goss, of Mangamahu, and Jamie Skiffington, of Rotorua, at Mangamahu, north east of Whanganui, on January 4 this year.
Goss shore 715 and Skiffington 695, and the solo record is 754 shorn by Te Kuiti shear Jack Fagan at Puketititi, near Piopio, on December 22 last year.
It’s a big year for Abraham who with brother-in-law David Gordon, also of Masterton, who will be shearing for New Zealand in a series of test matches against Scotland, England and Wales on a UK tour next month.
Best daily shearing tallies had been things made of legends and folklore, sometimes done in the presence of Justices of the Peace, until 1968 when the first rules emerged after an annual meeting of shearers during the Golden Shears in Masterton.
The records society, developed in 1982-1983 and having been recognised as the worldwide authority since 2004, appoints judges for each record attempt, with at least one at each attempt not from the country inn which the record is being attempted. In New Zealand there must also be at least one other not from the island in which the record is being attempted.
The records focus on the standard eight-hours or nine-hours working days in the wool shed, and those currently recognised range from the solo records to a nine-hours, six stand strong wool lamb tally of 4188 shorn in Southland in 2005 and an eight-hour eight-stand Merino lamb record of 2939 set in West Australia in 2002.
Under varying rules from 1968 to 1983, the greatest tally was a nine-hours 10-stand Perendale lamb record of 5557 shorn at Poronui Station, on the Rangitaiki Plains, between Napier and Taupo, on January 8, 1979.
The oldest on the current books of the society is a nine-hours, three stands strong wool ewe record shorn in Central Otago in 1993.