Shear happiness for young women

At a farm near Gimmerburn last week are (from left) Chas Tohiariki, of Elite Shearer Training, and trainees Tatjiana Keefe (19), of Raupunga, Ariana Te Whata (19), of Mossburn, and Cheyenne Howden (21), of Feilding. All three women work for Dion Morrell S
At a farm near Gimmerburn last week are (from left) Chas Tohiariki, of Elite Shearer Training, and trainees Tatjiana Keefe (19), of Raupunga, Ariana Te Whata (19), of Mossburn, and Cheyenne Howden (21), of Feilding. All three women work for Dion Morrell Shearing. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
''Shearing is an art.''

So says Ariana Te Whata, of Mossburn, who was taking part with three other young women in a course run by Elite Shearer Training on the Dowling family's farm near Gimmerburn last week.

Three of the women, Tatjiana Keefe, of Raupunga, Cheyenne Howden, of Feilding, and Ariana work for Dion Morrell Shearing. They all intend to go shearing full time.

Ariana grew up in a shearing shed and her parents, Vanessa and Mana Te Whata, are shearing contractors and run Shear Tech. Mr Te Whata is a champion competitive shearer.

''I love shearing,'' Ariana said.

''I love the art of it and it is beautiful to watch.

''It is an art and not as easy as it looks, but it is very rewarding.''

She said shearing was hard work.

''It is not for everybody but it is easy when you like it.''

She is a woolhandler, also enjoys shearing and is keen to do it full time.

''However, it can be physically demanding.

''Sometimes, I go home and can't open my hands.

''The sheep in Central Otago are humungous and you get wrecked.''

She said although she was a woolhandler or rousie, she often tried to help the shearers by grinding blades or setting up hand-pieces.

Tatjiana said she had worked in the meat works previously, and knew nothing about the shearing industry.

''I fell in love with it, the shearing and the lifestyle,'' Tatjiana said.

''It is very rewarding.''

She said the job required long hours, often leaving home at 5am to get to the woolshed by 7am.

''However, it is very rewarding when you get to shear.''

She would practise yoga after work to relax her muscles.

''Shearing all day was the equivalent of running two marathons.''

Cheyenne Howden, whose parents Buck Howden and Christine Cadwallader were also shearers, was a meat worker for a while and also has been shearing.

She said the male shearers were ''really supportive of us shearing''.

''It was also important to work as a team.''

Women shearing required a slightly different skill set.

Men had brute strength but women needed to learn how to trap a sheep, she said.

''Women have to place the sheep perfectly [to hold them in place].

''You have got to have your wits about you,'' she said.

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