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Twelve thousand people, three days of competition and shearers and woolhandlers from 32 different countries transformed the ILT Stadium Southland in February during the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships. Eight months on and the event has been recognised as the best international event in New Zealand.
Months after the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships were held in Invercargill, the event is still causing a stir.
Not only was it a success for the town, and Kiwis Johnny Kirkpatrick and Joel Henare, but the event has also been recognised as the Best International Event in New Zealand at the New Zealand Event Awards (NZEA) last week.
The ILT Stadium Southland also won the Best Industry Supplier category as venue for the event.
New Zealand Shearing Foundation and Organising Committee chairman Tom Wilson said he was elated with the accolade.
‘‘I’m speechless really. It was an honour just to be shortlisted as a finalist but to win it is something else. I think it’s a real boost for our sport and industry. We’ve got amazing athletes who are incredibly skilled at what they do and to open up the spectacle and drama of the sport to a whole new audience as we did in February makes all the hard work worthwhile.’’
‘‘It really was a team effort. To have all our organising committee and our event manager Jude [McNab] here, I’m just so happy for all of them and for the shearing and Southland communities and our wonderful funders and sponsors who made this event what it was,’’ Mr Wilson said.
Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman former multiple world champion Sir David Fagan said it was a big night for shearing as a sport and as an industry, rewarding not only those involved in running the event, but those who had won the right for the event to be staged in the South Island for the first time, and for Southland.
ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt said it was a great night for Southland.
‘‘It’s been some night for us. I think it really shows what’s possible down here. I remember our first chat with Tom and Jude about hosting the World Champs and we saw the potential but to be honest I had no idea what it would turn into.’’
The shearing event, which has been floated as the best World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in its 40-year history, provided a boost to Southland’s economy of more than $6.5 million.
NZEA chairwoman Andy Scotland congratulated the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships and the stadium on their achievements.
‘‘[They have] emerged from a stronger field than ever to demonstrate excellence and the world class standards that local events are achieving,’’ she said.
‘‘Events make a significant contribution to the economy, enhance New Zealand’s cultural status and provide locals and visitors alike with the opportunity to expand horizons and enjoy themselves.’’