Shear determination

Kerri-Jo in her element. Source: Mahi Toa ShearTraining Ltd

Ngāti Tūwharetoa's Kerri-Jo Te Huia has set a new world record, after she shore an impressive 452 ewes at today's World Women's nine-hour shearing record bid at Otapawa Station in Tiraumea. 

The Online News Team spoke to former women’s lamb shearing record holder Jills Angus Burney earlier today who spoke of Te Huia's determination. 

“She’s doing well so far. She’s picking it up a bit. She’s relaxed more and she’s reading the sheep a bit better. She’s really pumping them out,” says former women’s lamb shearing record holder Jills Angus Burney.

The event kicked off at 5am, and will run until 5pm, with hour-long intermissions throughout the day. Burney says Te Huia was pacing well and would achieve her goal of shearing 450-500 sheep by the end of the day.

“She’s shorn 101 ewes in the first run, from 5am-7am this morning and then in the run after breakfast which started at 8am and finished at 9:45am.

Every sheep is timed and if you think there’s 60 seconds in a minute, for her to keep this pace up, she’s shearing at about between 55 and 65 seconds a sheep. So she’s on a very average pace of about 60 seconds a sheep.”

Kerri-Jo and brother Stacey Te Huia. 

It’s no easy feat braving the sweltering conditions of a woolshed, but despite this, Kerri-Jo's determination and persistence continued to impress the crowds, and more importantly – her whānau.

“She’s shearing nearly 4kilos of wool and the sheep are probably in the 65-70kg weight range. While not knowing Kerri-Jo’s weight, she’s certainly not a big girl, she’s strong, very fit. She probably wouldn’t weigh much more than the sheep itself so it’s a fantastic effort for an athlete in these circumstances.”

Kerri-Jo descends from a talented line of Māori shearers. Her brothers both hold world record shearing titles and her father, who is also her head coach, is a respected instructor in the industry.

“What makes this even more remarkable is that Kerri-Jo has only been shearing for seven years, so she actually hasn’t been shearing all her life. She’s in her mid-thirties and she spent a number of years as a wool handler, and her brother Stacey is a current world record holder.

It’s very hard to do a solo record. Doing one on your own is a bit like running a marathon on your own. They say shearing 300 sheep is the equivalent of running a marathon so she’s sort of doing the equivalent of an ultra-marathon event today."

Supporters and whānau continued to surround Kerri-Jo as she set her sights on the end prize.

"I’m sure she’ll have a beer on it and I’m sure there are a few workers who will have a beer on it at the end of the day. It’s a big effort and it’s a really big achievement for her and her whanau and puts another stake in the sand for women in the industry," says Burney.