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11 November 2022

Cook Islands holds first-ever sheep shearing and woolhandling nationals

Monday 27 February 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Features, Local, National

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Cook Islands holds first-ever sheep shearing and woolhandling nationals
Twelve competitors from around New Zealand and Australia, travelled to Gore for the shearing and woolhandling competition, hoping to snag one of the six spots on offer. SUPPLIED/23022629

The Cook Islands held their first-ever shearing and woolhandling nationals a week ago in New Zealand, to select a team for the Golden Shears World Championships in Scotland later this year.

Twelve competitors from around the country and Australia, travelled to Gore for the competition, hoping to snag one of the six spots on offer.

Event organiser, Tina Elers, who famously won two bronze medals for the Cook Islands at the 2017 world championships, says the event had been in the pipeline for the last three years.

“I’m just really stoked to be able to bring this to the table. I think we have got a good chance (of medalling at the world championships),” she says.

“Hopefully, we can be in that top three. Just to make that final, that would be our goal, no doubt.”

The event was mostly self-funded, with the Southland Cook Islands and sheep shearing communities rallying to make it happen.

Tina says the team cannot secure funding from the Cook Islands’ sports federation because sheep shearing is not part of the Olympics, Commonwealth or Pacific Games.

“In New Zealand here, we are also not eligible for a lot of funding because we aren’t a New Zealand team.”

Tina also hopes the event will put them in a good position to secure a place on the Golden Shears World Council.

Member countries are allowed to take their own judges to the world championships, which has disadvantaged the Cook Islands in previous competitions.

“Maybe it’s time they change their constitution just to allow a fairer international field out there on that world stage,” Tina says.

“We just want to be like all the other countries. We want to be eligible for everything just like everyone else.”

Tina’s daughter Maiden, who also won bronze at the 2017 championships, says that having representation on the council will help her mother to grow the sport in the Cook Islands.

“She’s just trying to get it out there so that everyone can get involved – so that everyone knows the Cook Islands in the shearing industry,” she says.

Cook Islands Squad: Tina Elers, Keryn Herbert, Alex Smith, Jovan Taiki, Maiden Elers (reserve), Jimmy Joe Elers (reserve)

- Anauli Fai'ai/Tagata Pasifika