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Pay and travel draw of shearing

the region's next generation of shearers received tips from some of the the best in the business at an intensive course at Waipura Station.

Elite Shearer Training held a four-day programme at the Hexton station where students learned how to grade and press wool, as well as getting their hands on shearing clippers.

'It's a great life,' Elite Shearing Training director Gavin Rowland said of the career.

People are drawn to the industry because of the pay and travel.

'After a few years of experience, a worker shearing 200 sheep a day can make up to $80,000 a year.

'The travelling is refreshing. I knew I'd be working hard for six weeks but I knew I was going somewhere else.'

Police Sergeant Isaac Ngatai joined the programme to highlight the importance of safely working and driving in rural areas.

While the price of wool has been depressed for many years there may be a shepherd's delight on the horizon.

A new paper by the Ministry for Primary Industries says there is a growing demand for merino-style fine wool.

A report by the Prime Minister's chief science adviser recommends a shift to more sustainable and biodegradable fabric like wool, which comes without the negative consequences associated with plastic.

Those who attended the course got to learn from Matawai's Catherine Mullooly — the only female shearing trainer in New Zealand.

Ms Mullooly said she got into shearing by chance.

'I was woolhandling for a local contractor and I would shear the last side in the shed with the boys.

'Then I heard about shearing school about nine years ago here in Gisborne.'

Ms Mullooly has spent many seasons shearing overseas.

'I went to Ireland and ended up getting a job and from that spent three seasons in Scotland,' Ms Mullooly said.

Having worked throughout Australia and the UK, her preferred place is Scotland because of the people and the sheep.

'You look in your catching pen here and every sheep looks pretty similar. You go over there and there can be 10 different breeds in your one pen.'

Mr Rowland said more women were getting into shearing.

'The technique and equipment are so much better now that they can do it just as well as the guys can.

'They use technique more than brute strength, whereas a young fella will try and muscle it up.'

One of the 'young fellas' coming through is Gisborne's Quade Hyde, who grew up with family in the industry.

'I was brought up in the sheds and my old man would take me out for little jobs.'

'Then I left school to come out here so hopefully I can travel.'

THIS WAY: Catherine Mullooly explains some of the finer points of shearing to student Mikaira Chaffey.
NEW BEGINNINGS: Tairawhiti Police Sergeant Isaac Ngatai (left) joined Troye Hudepohl, Mikaira Chaffey, Ciaran Brown, Quade Hyde, Catherine Mullooly (trainer), Andreas Popp, Zoe Smith and Te Whetu Brown at a four-day shearing programme. Pictures by Liam Clayton