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In the Gore District Council refurbished civic administration building, acrylic tiles were laid instead of woollen carpet.
Retired sheep farmer Graeme Keown said the council’s decision was disrespectful to farmers who paid a proportion of the district’s rates.
“We are getting nothing for our wool and they’re not helping in any way whatsoever," Mr Keown said.
“They’ve actually thumbed their nose at the farmers.”
Ferndale farmer Henry McFadzien said after World War 2 when the number of sheep rose dramatically, farmers’ incomes prospered which had a flow-on effect in Gore.
"Gore in the ’60s could boast of having the largest retail turnover of any New Zealand town," Mr McFadzien said.
In 1991, a statue of a Romney ram was unveiled in the town’s Main St to commemorate the significant contribution that meat and wool products had made to the district’s economy.
“They may as well take that down. It means nothing,” he said.
Woollen carpet was far more fire resistant that acrylic which was “awful stuff if you have a fire,” he said.
“B......t” is how Black Hills sheep and beef farmer Fred Sutherland described the decision.
“There are still a lot of sheep farmers round this area ... [the council] can’t even be seen to be using a local product.”
Mandeville farmer Barry Roughan said it made no sense for the council to use an artificially made fibre.
“They are using a product that is going to take 200 years to break down and we’ve got a product that biodegrades.”
Farmers were required to farm in an environmentally sound way, he said.
“They are telling us to change but they are not prepared to change themselves,” Mr Roughan said.
Former Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young said the organisation was very disappointed with the council’s decision.
"The mayor assures us they are going to look at wool for further work when they do the rest of their building," Mr Young said.
Wool had been an important revenue earner in the district, he said.
"Gore, in particular, has largely been founded over the last 150 years, on the back of the sheep."
Council chief executive Steve Parry said the council relied on the judgement of professionals who helped with the refurbishment.
"While using wool would have been an ideal outcome, the reality is that in a high traffic, office environment, acrylic tiles are going to last much longer and be more sustainable in the event of areas having to be replaced," Mr Parry said.
Tiles were easier to replace if worn out or soiled.
The total cost was $49,456 and quotes for wool carpet started at about $65/sq m and could have cost up to $66,600, Mr Parry said.
"There are currently no carpet tiles available in wool, only broadloom (3.6m wide).
Acrylic tiles were guaranteed for 15 years which was five years longer than standard woollen carpet.
Another option considered was Axminster carpet that had a warranty of 20 years.
The approximate supply cost ranged between $85 to $120/sq m.
Wools of New Zealand chief executive John McWhirter said the farmer-owned company was developing a woollen tile that would "be available in the not too distant future".
- By Sandy Eggleston