Best of NZ fleece on show

Golden Fleece convener Christine Roberts chats to Royal Agricultural Society president Geoff Smith, who made the trip down from Waiuku, South Auckland, to attend the annual event which was held in Rangiora for the first time on Saturday, May 11. Photos: D
Golden Fleece convener Christine Roberts chats to Royal Agricultural Society president Geoff Smith, who made the trip down from Waiuku, South Auckland, to attend the annual event which was held in Rangiora for the first time on Saturday, May 11. Photos: David Hill
New Zealand wool took centre stage at the Rangiora Showgrounds on Saturday, May 11.

The 50th annual Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) Golden Fleece exhibition was held in Rangiora for the first time and RAS president Geoff Smith was in awe of the quality of fleeces on display.

''These are amazing quality products, sustainable and natural. You just simply could not get something better for baby clothes, for example,'' he said.

''This is the way we showcase the best there is in New Zealand.''

There were working exhibits and traditional wool spinning to give a sample of the garments which could be made with fleeces.

Mr Smith said he lived on a small farm at Waiuku, South Auckland, breeding horses and cattle, and he kept a few sheep ''for the freezer''.

''Well, I'm no fleece judge, but it's certainly interesting the see the quality is being maintained. And that's certainly the comments I'm hearing from those who know these things.''

Tekapo farmers Will and Emily Murray claimed the ribbon for supreme champion fine wool fleece with their merino fleece at the Golden Fleece.
Tekapo farmers Will and Emily Murray claimed the ribbon for supreme champion fine wool fleece with their merino fleece at the Golden Fleece.
He said he was impressed with the enthusiasm of young people who visited the day before the exhibition to learn from the judges.

''It was very good to have young people learning about the fleeces from the judges and some of them were picking up pretty quickly how it all works.''

Mr Smith said he was a regular visitor to Rangiora, where the national office was based and he attended the Northern A&P Show last October.

He said he was looking forward to finally having a weekend to himself, having attended A&P shows and RAS events throughout the country virtually every weekend since September.

Golden Fleece convener Christine Roberts said there was around 90 fleeces between the fine and strong wool sections, and about 20 fleeces in each of the black and coloured sheep wool, mohair goat and alpaca fleece sections.

Mrs Roberts said Feilding farmer Rachel Humphrey won supreme champion strong wool fleece for the ninth time, with a Romney fleece.

Tekapo farmers Will and Emily Murray won the ribbon for supreme champion fine wool fleece with a merino fleece.

Leo and Karen Ponsonby claimed the supreme champion black and coloured sheep's wool ribbon, while North Island breeder David Brown won supreme champion mohair fleece and Brenda and Ivor Gainsford, of Rotorua, won supreme champion huacaya alpaca fleece.

While the venue for the 51st Golden Fleece had yet to be decided, Mrs Roberts said it would be held in Canterbury, and the RAS national office would host event for a second year.

-By David Hill

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