Shear Blacks win 4 world titles

October 9, 2008

New Zealand’s premier shearing team, the Shear Blacks, has returned from the World Championships in Norway with four of a possible six titles.

41-year-old Paul Avery has spent 20 years shearing competitively. He last qualified for the world champs in 1998, but that year shearing legend David Fagan won.

With the help of an AMP scholarship, Mr Avery spent a month in Norway getting to know the local sheep.

“There lamb is like half as big again, like 50 to 60 kilos,” he says. “And they are crazy to shear they are kicking all the time. Even when you are sitting down at the end of a day shearing, sitting on the couch watching TV, you find your muscles are all tense and you’ve got to try and make yourself relax.”

Mr Avery was part of a team which won four out of a possible six titles. The team’s organiser says the results prove shearing is now a New Zealand sport in its own right.

“We have been funded by SPARC,” John Fagan from Shearing Sports NZ says. “Being an Olympic year this year, they didn’t fund us. But we are recognised as a sport.”

WHile I’d admired the skill and fitness of shearers I’d never really appreciated shearing as a sport until I read the account of a Golden Sheras final in Witi Ihimaera’s novel Bulibasha.

Child’s play serious business

May 17, 2008

Sport and recreation NZ is right when it says that cotton-wooling is preventing kids from enjoying childhood and that parents worrying too much about children’s safety is bad for their health.


Kids are at greater risk of obesity and diabetes, and even rickets from inactivity and lack of sunshine because they’re not allowed the rough and tumble of outdoor play. But they’re also not learning skills and values which will equip them for adult life if they can’t explore and learn although that means taking some risks.


It’s part of helping children be independent, the necessity for which was brought home to me at a seminar led by Wilf Jarvis an Australian behavioural scientist who developed the principle of four quadrant leadership. The four quadrants go from I’m in charge; through we’ll discuss but I’ll decide, then we’ll discuss and we’ll decide to you’re in charge. It was a management seminar but the principles apply just as much to parenting as business and showed the importance of giving children the ability to make the right choices.


Like any other skill this needs practise not just theory and of course no-ones’ going to get everything right the first time. But then while some of us can learn from other people’s mistakes the rest of us have to be the other people and it’s better to learn from little mistakes when you’re young than be faced with the consequences of much bigger ones when you’re older.


The death of a child is one of the most difficult experiences a parent can face, and having gone through it with twice with our sons (as a result of illness, not accident) there was a temptation to be over protective of our daughter.


But the real tragedy of her brothers’ deaths would have been if we’d allowed that experience to shadow her and prevent her from enjoying the normal childhood experiences which they couldn’t, with the attendant joys and risks.


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