World’s best shearers and woolhandlers heading to Invercargill, New Zealand.

The world's elite wool industry athletes will converge in Invercargill in the far south of New Zealand in February for the Golden Shears World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships.

New Zealand is hosting the event from February 9-11 2017 at ILT Stadium Southland, set to feature competitors from more than 30 countries.

Five-time world champion shearer, recently knighted Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan, said people in Invercargill and across the whole Southland region had embraced the championships.

Southland offers visitors a valuable look into New Zealand farming landscapes, operations, techniques and the unique Kiwi way of life, Fagan said.

The organising committee is throwing open its arms to welcome contestants, officials and supporters to a region renowned for its rural heritage and stunning natural scenery.

The Government-backed event is shaping up as the world's biggest celebration of sheep and the wool industry.

"There will be about 30 countries coming from around the world and it's going to be an incredible experience. We can't wait to welcome our international shearing and wool handling friends to Invercargill and Southland."

As well as hosts New Zealand, teams from Australia, England, South Africa, Japan, USA and Mongolia are attending, with more set to be confirmed as national qualification events in respective countries take place.

Highly skilled athletes will be going head-to-head in the world championships, Fagan said.

The event offers something for everyone with the elite competitors striving for world titles, and everyone else there for the festival of shearing and camaraderie that goes with it, he said.

"It is about shearing and wool handling and it's about sheep but it's also about putting on a good show for the public.

"It's an entertainment package, really. It's something that we're really proud and excited to have in Southland,'' Fagan said.

The venue, 4000 seat capacity ILT Stadium Southland, is itself a world-class attraction that regularly hosts international and national events and is home to sports franchises the Southern Steel (netball) and the defending NBL champions the Southland Sharks (basketball).

About 4500 sheep will come through the stadium during the three days, and ILT Stadium Southland manager Nigel Skelt said the venue would be transformed into one of the world's largest woolsheds. Stadium staff were already working on logistics for the event.
The sheep industry is an integral part of Southland's cultural identity, reaching back more than 150 years to when the region's agricultural forebears first developed its rich pasture land.

Southland has an amazing sheep story to tell, and organisers and the community are determined to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone who attends.

Alongside the shearing and wool handling action, visitors will experience a wool week showcasing the sheep and wool industry as well as over 100 trade and craft stands from around New Zealand.

At a glance: Golden Shears World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships February 9- 11 2017

Where: Invercargill (main centre in Southland region) – population 51,696 (Southland region population 93,339);

About: Invercargill is on the Southern Scenic Route and is the gateway to some of New Zealand's most beautiful scenery and destinations including the Southland heartland, Stewart Island, Fiordland and the Catlins.

By the numbers:

30 - home countries of competitors
4500 - estimated number of sheep
About 6000 - estimated visitors/spectators
29.8 million - estimated number of sheep in New Zealand 4.3 million – estimated number of sheep in Southland For more information contact:

Phil and Sarah McCarthy
McCarthy Media and Communications Email: mccarthymediac@gmail.com


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