It was the year 1958. A group of enthusiasts from the Wairarapa district Young Farmer’s Club, mooted the idea of organising a shearing competition in the Wairarapa. 

The venue was to be held at the annual Agricultural and Pastoral show. With advertising and special invitations, the stage was set for a new sporting spectacle that would impact on Masterton in future years beyond all comprehension.

Shearers came from all parts of the North and South Island to compete and show their talent and skills.

The competition was a huge success and organisers, Laurie Keats, Iain Douglas and Graham Buckley realised this new sporting spectacle was an untapped reservoir of unlimited bounds and talents.

The group approached Federated Farmers then Chairman, Mr Roy O’Hara, and President, Mr Bob Chamberlain, to ask if under the umbrella of Wairarapa Federated Farmers, an Annual Shearing Competition could be staged and more appropriate premises be found, such as the War Memorial Stadium in Masterton.

Golden Shears was the agreed title and from this point in 1960, the world’s greatest shearing competition was conceived.

The inaugural Golden Shears of 1961 surpassed all expectations with crowds so great, the local Army was called upon to control crowds around the stadium.

Through the 1960’s and 70’s, before the impact of live sport on TV, the fascination and excitement of Golden Shears became a household name with seats booked twelve months in advance.

The competition between shearers was fierce and uncompromising. Many of our great champions 

Ivan Bowen, Snow Quinn, Roger Cox and Martin Ngataki to mention a few – engraved their names in the record books. In the late 1970’s and early 80’s many minor shearing competitions sprang up throughout New Zealand. Shearing had entered the world of professionalism. Major companies and businesses wanted to promote and sponsor this new physical and unorthodox sport.

Prize money for competitions became larger by the year, with many shearers adopting professional attitudes such as training programmes and fitness courses never heard of in the early days of the 1960’s.

For the voluntary organisers of Golden Shears, the rate of change was difficult to keep pace with. There were many rule changes, major sponsors were required, inter-challenge events between Australia and New Zealand were implemented and a World Shearing Championship held in 1980.

Golden Shears became more than just a simple shearing competition. It became a foundation, a centre point, and arena, where many constitutional meetings were held and our world champions were founded.

Shearing competitions throughout New Zealand and the World established their presence as a major sporting code in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Throughout the structural changes, controversies and competition from television, Golden Shears survived.

The 1996 World Shearing and Wool handling Championships held in conjunction with the Golden Shears Championships was described as one of the best “Shears” in recent years.

For the shearers, the wool handlers and wool pressers, the dreams are still the same as those pioneers in 1961 – to strive, compete fairly, win your grade and become supreme champion of GOLDEN SHEARS.

There are three core events in the Golden Shears as well as several specialty and novelty events.

 Sheree Alabaster NIWC woolhandling final


Shearing has progressed from being a physically demanding and arduous farm task to being recognised as an elite sporting pursuit with an outcome that contributes to the economic well-being of New Zealand.

Using the NZ developed Bowen technique, a true tradesman/sportsman will efficiently remove the fleece from the sheep without double cutting the wool fibre or causing injury to the animal or self, all at speed. Judges closely watch, monitor and assess these key aspects.

The Bowen technique is globally widely used, although there are some parts of the world that still uses other less efficient methods.

Shearing is something that seems to ‘get into the blood’ and as a result the competitive scene can cater for the spectrum from Novice, Junior, Intermediate, Senior and Open grades. Add to that Young Farmer teams & individual events  and International Tests means there is something for everyone to enjoy.

There is something truly magical and inspiring watching the strength, grace, power and precision of an open shearing final.


Wool handling

For the past 25 years wool handling competitions have become an integral part of shearing events throughout the country. In fact one could say wool handling is the biggest growth industry on the New Zealand shearing circuit.

With four grades in the Wool handling Championships – Novice, Junior, Senior and Open. Record entries are likely to be received again for these highly skilled competitions.

Because there are so many different methods and systems of wool handling practised world-wide, due to different kinds of sheep and degrees of processing for wool fleeces, no uniform standard could be expected from competitors especially in the Northern Hemisphere.

The New Zealand, Australian and to some lesser extent British and South African standards and methods are now becoming used more commonly, due partly to New Zealand wool handlers travelling the globe, and intense marketing programmes by most of our New Zealand Wool Exporters.

The wool handling competitions are of great importance in the presentation and marketing of wool world-wide and the style and grace of these supreme athletes creates a colourful and exciting contest.

 C Abraham

Wool pressing

If one wants to see “muscles in motion” then the Wool pressing Championships deliver this, and more!

It ‘s common knowledge that one of the most demanding physical activities in the wool shed operation is that of the pressers. The job demands not only having to pen hundreds of animals, tramp and press a few thousand kilos of wool per day, but also fill and boil that kettle so everyone can enjoy smoko!

The skill, strength and power of these individuals can only be admired. Golden Shears recognised and appreciated the task of the Wool pressers as a vital part of the wool industry and incorporated a Pressing Championship into the program from 1986. 

The 2000 Championships saw a Women’s pressing competition included which proved an outstanding success, and we now have an extension to the Wool pressing with both men’s and women’s singles pressing, plus a pairs competition.

The Wool pressing continues to be an extremely popular event with both audience and participants alike, with entries growing year by year.


Sam Saunders   President

Sam Saunders

Ken Macpherson  Vice President

Ken Macpherson
Vice President

Ronnie King  Vice President

Ronnie King
Vice President



Philip Morrison - Executive Committee        Bruce Caseley - Executive Committee   Trish Stevens - Executive Committee                              


Cushla Abraham

Stewart Atkinson

Angeline Colquhoun

Allan Grant

John Hodder

Ian Hopkirk

Jo Hopkirk

Bill Hutchings

John Jolly

Kieran McAnulty

Anna Morrison

Peter Noble

Lynn Paku

Stephen Pound


Allan Pretious

Missy Riddell

Mary-Leigh Ryan

Stephen Siemonek

 Tracy Stringer

Life Members


Kevin Aplin

Bruce Arcus

Greg Herrick

Laurie Keats

Selwyn Tomlin

Edwin O’Hara

Ian Stewart

Gavin Tankersley

Murray Tomlin