Speed shearing for a cause

Te Kuiti shearer Digger Balme will be competing at the Te Puna Speed Shear on Saturday with the event doubling as a fundraiser for an Assistance Dog for his son Kyle.

Some of the country’s top shearers will be heading to Te Puna on Saturday for the annual Speed Shear competition, with a special cause top of their minds this year.

Te Kuiti shearer Digger Balme has competed in the event every year for the past 18 years. This year it will double as a fundraiser for an Assistance Dog for his 14-year-old son Kyle who has autism and severe developmental delay.

Co-organiser Maree Morton says the event usually attracts around 35 competitors but more are expected this year to support Digger and his family. Many will also compete at the shearing championships at the Tauranga A&P and Lifestyle Show on Sunday.

Around 100 lambs will be shorn by registered shearers on the night and judged to see whether the shearing job passes muster.

Competitive shearing is a tough sport requiring not just fitness, but skill.

For the uninitiated, expect to see some “amazing” shearing, says Maree.

“Last year we had a guy shear a lamb in 15.93 seconds. It normally takes 19 to 22 seconds.”

Shearers will be competing in open and senior classes with $1000 up for grabs for the best senior and $2000 for the top shearer in the open competition.

The Te Puna Speed Shear will be held on Saturday, January 13 at the Top Shot Bar in Te Puna from 5.30pm. Gold coin entry. There will also be raffles and a silent auction for a hunting trip.