Thursday, 01 February 2024 12:55

She's shear class!

Written by  Ben Chapman-Smith
Teenager Jodiesha Kirkpatrick grabbed the farming world’s attention when she recently shore 200 lambs in one day. Teenager Jodiesha Kirkpatrick grabbed the farming world’s attention when she recently shore 200 lambs in one day.

The rise and rise of top-class female shearers is a growing phenomenon in NZ – especially during recent times.

During the recent summer, a number of local female shearers set and then reset numerous shearing records. Included in this neverending role of honour were the world record efforts of the likes of Amy Silcock, Catherine Mullooly, Sasha Bond, Megan Whitehead, Sarah Higgins and Natalya Rangiwha to name a few.

It is no wonder Gisborne teenagers Jodiesha Kirkpatrick is sharpening her combs and cutters for her first crack at full-time shearing.

The 17-year-old recently grabbed the farming world’s attention recently when Federated Farmers posted a Facebook photo showing Kirkpatrick holding her 200th lamb shorn in one day.

Kirkpatrick says she’s very much still learning, but she’s proud to have hit the milestone.

“I started doing all the last sides for dad on his farm about two years ago, when I was 15. The last side is the easiest part of the sheep to shear, so he’d make me do that,” she explains.

“I didn’t know how to shear a full sheep until last year and this main shear coming up over summer will be my first full-time shearing. I just want to get better, and my next goal is 200 ewes.”

Kirkpatrick reached her impressive 200-lamb tally in November while shearing for Federated Farmers national meat & wool chair Toby Williams, on his Pihitia Station just north of Gisborne.

Williams describes the teenager as “a fantastic shearer” who takes her time and focuses on quality.

“The big thing about Jodiesha is she didn’t rush out and try to do 200 – she just did 200 really well-shorn sheep,” he says. “There’s a saying among the good shearers that you focus on quality and the pace will come. Jodiesha’s parents, Ian and LilyBeth, have instilled that in her and in all their shearers. It’s about quality, with nice pink sheep coming out.”

Those in the shearing community won’t be surprised at Jodiesha’s prowess with a handpiece, given her pedigree.

Ian and LilyBeth were, until recently, long-time shearing contractors and organisers of the Gisborne Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at the Poverty Bay A&P Show.

Jodiesha’s brother Ian ( junior) was the 2008 top-ranked intermediate shearer and winner of both the Golden Shears and New Zealand Shears intermediate finals, a treble he repeated in the senior grade in 2009.

Meanwhile, her uncle John Kirkpatrick is a legend of the sport, winner of more than 200 Open titles worldwide, including World Championship 2017, multiple Golden Shears Open titles and New Zealand Shears Open titles.

There’s plenty of other shearing and sporting talent in the Kirkpatrick line.

Jodiesha has already achieved competitive success too, including third in the junior shearing final and second in the junior woolhandling final at the Central Hawke’s Bay A&P Show in Waipukurau in November.

Kirkpatrick says she finished school at 15 because she knew what she wanted to do for a living.

“I left school to help my parents with their shearing contract – they needed some more workers – but mostly because I like doing it. Shearing is what I see myself doing in the future.”

Shearing is far more than just a job, she adds.

“It’s good money but it’s also a good lifestyle and it can take you heaps of different places, getting you out of your hometown.

And working with heaps of older people is cool because I learn a lot from them, and I enjoy hearing their stories.”

Kirkpatrick has already worked as a rousie in the South Island and is keen to shear in other parts of the country. Overseas destinations high on her list include Italy and Australia.

People she’s inspired by include her dad, brothers, and boss Tama Niania, who owns the run formerly owned by her parents.

Where does she see herself 10 years from now?

“Still shearing, going faster,” she quips.

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