Master shearer's last hurrah

00:55, Jan 23 2014
John Hough
John Hough shows he can hold his own while shearing in the open event at the Northern Southland Community Shears at Castlerock as part of his 'Last Stand' tour.

In his 70th year, Rakaia shearer John Hough decided - with the help of his so-called younger mates - to go on a journey together and compete in 22 shearing shows.

He'll visit Reefton and most other shows south of Christchurch along with North Island events at Te Kuiti, Taumaranui, Apiti, Pahiatua and the Golden Shears at Masterton.

"I compete in the open section and I haven't come last, yet, although it's harder than I thought it would be as I am not as fit now," he said.

"I wear a bungy support to help my back and hips."

It has been about eight years since he stopped fulltime work as a shed shearer. His long association with Southland began with his run in Riversdale, involving four gangs at the height of the season.

"I have seen many changes along with the upsurge in dairying," Hough said.


"In 1973 I shore about 60,000 sheep and only travelled 16 miles from my home in Riversdale."

His biggest tally was 600, done in the Riversdale area, with 400 a usual day. He had a good pre-lamb run but storms put paid to that practice because it led to huge sheep losses.

"I was a shearing instructor for the New Zealand Wool Board from 1981 to 1985 after I gave up the Riversdale run, then continued to shear for other contractors before having an open run around Canterbury."

He was a competitor as well as a judge in the late 1960s through to 1980s, then concentrated on judging.

This is Hough's last year judging and shearing as he is finishing his relationship with the shearing industry to let the young ones come through with new ideas.

Currently he is chair of NZ Shearing Sports South Island committee, examiner for judges for the South Island, and record referee for shearers for the World Records' committee covering Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

‘'Shearing has been good to me as I went to Australia as manager of the New Zealand team, was chosen to judge at the World Championships in Norway in 2008 and my ‘last hurrah' is going to Gorey in Ireland in May as manager of the NZ team," he said.



The Southland Times