Kaiapoi alpaca breeder Kit Johnson is looking forward to
opening the World Alpaca Expo and Conference in Hamilton this
''We have been waiting for this for a long time, since we got
chosen back in 2007. This is the big event and we probably
won't get it for another 20 years,'' the Alpacas Association
of New Zealand president said.
''As the host president, I get to speak at the opening of the
expo and the closing of the conference. The rest of the time
I will be showing my animals and fleeces.''
Mr Johnson said there were 50 delegates coming from Australia
and other delegates from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden,
Norway, Hungary, the United Kingdom and Canada.
The World Alpaca Expo, from September 20-24, incorporates the
annual New Zealand alpaca expo, which has attracted record
entries of 471 animals in the breed classes and about 400
fleeces, including fleeces from Australia and even from
Europe, Mr Johnson said.
''We had to get an import permit from the Ministry of Primary
Industries to get the fleeces into the country and we have
had a really good response.
''All the animals get shorn in November, so these are last
year's fleeces and they are judged on their quality and
colour. In the breed classes, the animals will be judged on
the fleece that has grown back since November.''
Mr Johnson said there would be a strong Canterbury contingent
at the expo. He has personally delivered 115 fleeces to
Hamilton on behalf of breeders throughout the South Island
and he believed there were around 150 altogether from the
South Island, with the bulk of them from Canterbury.
The breed classes will be judged by Paul Garland, of West
Melton, near Christchurch, and Australian Angela Preuss,
while the international fleece show will be judged by Hawkes
Bay breeder Sarah Busby and Australian Lyn Dickson.
An international alpaca vet conference was also being held in
Hamilton, to coincide with the alpaca expo, while an alpaca
auction will be held on Friday evening, with seven animals
going under the hammer. The expo will also feature 60 trade
sites from New Zealand and Australia.
The conference will feature speakers from China, who will
speak about opportunities for exporting alpacas to China,
Australia, South America, the United States, Switzerland and
''China could just about buy the national herd 20 times over,
so it would be a huge opportunity for New Zealand,'' Mr
New Zealand's national herd comprised around 25,000 animals
and just under 700 breeders and the local industry had been
going since 1986, Mr Johnson said.
He said there was growing interest in coloured alpacas, but
he believed the future was still strong in white alpacas.
''I believe the white animals will remain the focus, because
you can dye the fleece and do more with it.''
Alpacas were shown at A&P shows throughout New Zealand
and the next big Canterbury show, is the South Island
Colourbration Show being held at the Canterbury Park
Showgrounds in Christchurch on Saturday October 5.
- David Hill