Top student humbled by her achievement

Ingrid Neera, of Ohai, was thrilled 
Ingrid Neera, of Ohai, was thrilled when she was named top overall student for the New Zealand Cer tificate in Wool Technology and Classing during a graduation cere mony at the Southland stadium late last year. She completed the two-year New Zealand Wool Clas sers Association’s course while working full time. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Ingrid Neera, of Ohai, surprised herself when she was named Top Overall Student for the New Zealand Certificate in Wool Technology and Classing.

She graduated from the two-year New Zealand Wool Classers Association’s course at the end of last year.

"I don’t know how I did it and I am so humble and very honoured.

"I was so happy just to complete it."

Ms Neera is in her seventh year working for Winton shearing contractors Jamie and Raelene McConachie, and is a senior charge hand and wool handler.

Before that she was with Spain and Smith Shearing Contractors in Invercargill for 10 years and also spent several years with Western Southland Shearing in Ohai with her father-in-law Jim Malcolm.

Her woolshed career began in 1996, when she was a box girl, packing up the smokos and lunches for the workers.

She also cooked for the crews as well and then started as a shed hand in 1998.

"I didn’t know how to cook and I was called ‘Cookie’."

At one point she and partner Teone Ropata worked full time for contractors and at the same time had one shed they looked after as their own small business.

She has three adult children, two of who have followed her into the sheds.

Her role now includes helping train the new shed hands.

Now at 48, she is looking at retiring from the woolsheds and gaining further qualifications is part of that.

"I am not getting any younger and my body is not the same, so I need to think of my future, which is why I looked at retraining."

She studied while working full time and the course required regular assignments to be completed.

"My marks were never below A-, and I surprised myself by always getting full marks for the essays.

"I was always academically bright, especially when I was younger, but I didn’t use my potential until later on in life.

"I take after my mother who was a very intelligent woman and who was a retired prison officer, who taught me a lot of good morals and manners growing up."

She is interested in fine wools and is keen to gain wool classing experience.

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