Running of the Wools

December 18, 2014

The Hilux New Zealand Rural Games will be starting with a baaaa:

A spectacle not seen in Queenstown for decades will be staged again next February as more than 300 merino sheep run through the town centre to herald the start of the inaugural Hilux New Zealand Rural Games over the Waitangi holiday weekend.

The ‘Running of the Wools’ is planned as a dramatic celebration of the region’s farming heritage evoking memories of early settlers and highlighting the merino’s continued importance to New Zealand’s rural economy. The free event takes place on Waitangi Day, Friday 6 February and is co-sponsored by the Otago Daily Times and clothing and gift retailer, Global Culture.

Beginning at midday, merinos will leave pens on Athol Street and run over the Ballarat Street bridge by the Village Green. They then turn right onto Camp Street before turning left into Beach Street and running all the way down to finish at Earnslaw Park.

Spectators will have plenty of opportunities along the barrier-lined route to witness a forgotten side of Queenstown’s history.

From the early settler period, sheep were regularly transported from surrounding high country stations into Queenstown, including some by barge across Lake Wakatipu, before continuing to Dunedin for processing and export.

All stock for the Running of the Wools are being transported via road by Northern Southland Transport. They include around 300 dry stock – merino whethers and ewes – from Mt Nicholas Station on the south side of Lake Wakatipu and around 50 horned rams from Bendigo Station near Tarras. Bendigo was home to the globally famous merino ram ‘Shrek’ who grew the world’s heaviest fleece while evading muster for several years.

merino(Bendigo merinos at home on the station)

 

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games founder and trustee, Steve Hollander said it was going to be an amazing spectacle for locals and visitors alike. “

This will be a sight to behold! It’s easy to forget that sheep farming powered Queenstown’s economy long before it became one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations,” he said. “The merino is a real symbol not only of that high country heritage but also of the huge contribution farming continues to make to our national economy. Just think of the global phenomenon of merino clothing that began right here in Otago and continues to grow.”

Mr Hollander said he hoped to make the Running of the Wools an annual event to tie in with the Games itself. The Hilux New Zealand Rural Games feature several national championships for sports including speed shearing, sheep dog trials, speed fencing, gumboot throwing and coal shovelling as well as four Highland Games ‘heavy’ events and the Trans-Tasman ANZAXE Wood Chopping Championship.

Entertainment on both days is provided by the Topp Twins who also open a live concert on the Saturday evening headlined by local country pop sensation, Jody Direen. Tickets for the two-day Games and concert are now sale via Ticket Direct. For more information visit the event website at www.ruralgames.co.nz.

The Rural Games aim to bring together the sports that built the nation:

At the heart of the Games are a series of traditional sports attracting top competitors from throughout New Zealand and Australia. You can expect to see several national and world champions battling for the first Hilux New Zealand Rural Games titles.

Together with Sport New Zealand and rural sports associations around NZ we’ve developed exciting new formats for competitive wood chopping, sheep shearing, sheep dog trials, speed fencing, coal shovelling, speed gold panning and other traditional sports. We’ll also be hosting the ANZAXE Wood Chopping Championship, Highland Games ‘heavy’ events and a feature event of the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest, the Silver Fern Farms Agri-Sport Challenge – always a crowd favourite!

As well as the competitive element, the Games will feature a fun-packed festival programme including a live concert featuring NZ country pop sensation Jody Direen, daily entertainment from the Topp Twins, fun participation events like cherry stone spitting and wine barrel racing, kids activities plus delicious local food and wine.

Rural sports organisations have their individual events across the country through out the year.

The Rural Games will bring them together in Queenstown with competitions for elite sports people. There will also be less serious sections for people from the crowd to take part in.

P.S. I chair the trust which is running the games.


Rural round-up

May 26, 2012

Reward for consistency – Rebecca Harper:

The accolade of Producer of the Decade was bestowed upon them at the 2012 Steak of Origin grand final, but for Angus breeders Chris and Karren Biddles, it was the reward for consistently producing a quality product.

“We like to breed good product and sell good product,” Chris Biddles sums up the philosophy that has seen Te Atarangi Angus named Producer of the Decade.

Chris and his wife Karren farm just under 1000 hectares on the Pouto Peninsula, near Dargaville in Northland, and have been long time supporters of beef cattle breeding in New Zealand. . .

Plenty of bull topped off with a great feed – Jon Morgan:

Aaaaah, Beef Expo. First to assail the senses is the smell. Bullshit and coffee.

Then it’s the noise. Over the low roar of farmers discussing the weather is the enraged bellowing of caged bulls. And somewhere in the distance a tormented soul is shouting out the same number over and over again.

He’s auctioneer Bruce Orr. “I bid 4000, 4000, 4000, 4000 dollars. I’ve got 4000 to bid, 4000, 4000, 4000, 4000.” And so on at break-tongue speed.

Later, I count him and he gets close to 100 times repeating the same number before a bidder takes pity on him and raises him $200. Then it starts again.

It’s my annual immersion in the world of beef breeding. . .

Shear joy for wool industry

As a young girl growing up on Mt Nicholas Station, at the head of Lake Wakatipu, Kate Cocks was used to a life of uncertainty. Her parents, Lynda and Robert Butson, were high-country merino farmers, their extensive 100,000-acre property spreading from the edge of the lake to the tops of the distant peaks.

“Twenty years ago our wool cheque could vary from $300,000 one year to $1.2 million the next,” says Cocks, who is now the manager of Mt Nicholas Station. . .

Clicking on the link above will take you to a video.

Forum hailed for brdiging troubled waters – Jon Morgan:

 If I could meet the 80 people representing the 60 organisations and five iwi that make up the Land and Water Forum, I would ask them to turn their backs. Then I would give each one a well-deserved pat.

That’s unlikely, so I’ll do it in print. What these people have achieved, and are still to achieve, is awe-inspiring.

Formed four years ago under the leadership of environmental advocates Gary Taylor and Guy Salmon, the forum now includes the representatives of everyone with a stake in the sustainability of our freshwater resource – a remarkable achievement. . .

Dairy expansion pushes cow total to more than 6 million -Annette Scott:

Dairy expansion in the South Island has driven the national dairy herd to over six million while fewer lambs and breeding ewes saw sheep numbers take another tumble in 2011, according to the latest agricultural production survey.

Final results from the 2011 survey show a continued increase in the national dairy herd. An increase of 259,000 dairy cattle brought the number to 6.17m, up 4.4% from 2010.

More cattle were kept for milk production and future replacement, a result of the high payout and strong international demand for dairy products. The national milking herd was 4.82m, 136,000 more than in 2010. . .

The rise and importance of the US dairy industry – Xcheque:

If you have been watching the dairy industry news over the past month you will have noted a growing nervousness about the state of international dairy commodity markets and the flow on effects of this at farmgate.

It certainly appears that there is a gathering storm, one brought about by the over-exuberance of the global dairy traders. 7 billion litres of extra milk production in 2011 from the EU, US, NZ and Argentina, and no sign of the growth rate easing in the first two months of 2012. Domestic demand growth from these countries is typically less than 1% or about 2 billion litres – the balance needs to go onto world markets. Is this possible?

Not if history is a guide. . .

Ray of hope for dairy industry:

New Zealand dairy farmers are expected to be on average 42,000 dollars worse off this season following yesterday’s announcement by Fonterra that it has to cut its milk payout forecast because of softening global dairy prices.

But a New Zealand product gaining increasing attention in the United States could help offset those losses.

Queen of Calves was invented on a Manawatu family farm and promises to raise milk production by 18 per cent. . .

Southland TB campaigner wins deer industry award:

Retiring TBfree Southland Committee member Kevin Gilmour has been awarded the prestigious Matuschka Award by the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association.

Kevin has been associated with the TBfree committee for 20 years. Until recently, he ran a successful deer farm on the edge of the Hokonui Hills, while working tirelessly to communicate, advocate and support the national bovine tuberculosis (TB) control programme in Southland.

“The award came as a very nice surprise. However, I can’t emphasis enough how important the support and technical expertise of the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association and TBfree committee has been in achieving our objectives,” he said. . .

Farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum to set the agenda:

Hard on the heels of the Land & Water Forum report, Federated Farmers has taken the lead by convening a farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum.  Taking place at the Ashburton Trust Events Centre on 7 June, it gives all farmers a chance to see what the future holds.

“This Water Forum is very much a forum for farmers by farmers.  It’s about looking at water and environmental stewardship through fresh eyes,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesperson.

“It’s so important that ATS is helping us put it together.  It’s about issues, yes, but it’s about practical solutions farmers can take inside the farmgate. . .


Baacodes link producers to purchasers

June 6, 2011

We’d just come back from a week visiting farms including one which supplies Icebreaker when I bought a t-shirt.

Hoping to find it was made with the wool from our friends’ farm I checked the baacode . This links producers to purchasers by enabling buyers to find where the raw material for Icebreaker clothes was grown and introduces them to the people who grow it.

The merino wool in my t-shirt wasn’t from Middlehurst Station which we’d visited but it did come Mt Nicholas Station which is run by other friends who featured on Country Calendar a couple of weeks ago.

The programme and the baacode clips are wonderful advertisements for high country farming and farmers.


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