28 January 2002

Feature Article
Golden Shears programme

 

From Dannevirke to Goose Green on a wool handler’s ticket

Lawrence farmer Sarah McTavish believes people skills are the most valuable thing she got from her time as a wool handler.

Sarah McTavish [née Cowper] starting working for the Paewai Mullins shearing partnership in Dannevirke at the end of secondary school in 1990, to put herself through varsity.

"I worked for them every holiday until I went to work in a medical laboratory in Hastings in 1995 after I finished my degree," she says.

Sarah says that she always wanted to know more about the work she was doing.

"I came off a farm in Dannevirke and really enjoyed the work.

"But when I started, people would just tell me to do something, without really explaining why. I always wanted to know why.

"Eventually, I did all the wool handling courses and qualifications. I got my Junior, Senior and Advanced Wool Handling certificates, and went on to do the Certificate in Wool Handling Systems in 1994."

That was about the time Sarah started entering competitions.

"I got into competitions when I was working for Koro and Mavis Mullins around 1994. I really enjoyed that, and was placed in several Golden Shears and wool handling circuit finals in 1995 and ’96."

Sarah went overseas in 1997 and did a season shearing in Wales, and spent the 1997/98 season classing on Goose Green Station in the Falkland Islands, the scene of a famous battle in the Falklands War.

"One of the things about working in the shearing industry is that you meet so many different people, from all types of backgrounds. I think it forces you to have good people skills.

"When you’re working as a lead shed hand, you’re responsible for getting good work out of the people in the gang. Wool harvesting also involves quite a few casual workers, and there are always people from overseas coming in.

"So, you have to be able to get on with all sorts.

"You also need to have an open mind about what is in front of you, as you never know what it’s going to be like when you go into a new shed.

"I’ve found that good people skills and being able to adapt to new situations are very valuable qualities to have.

"As a farmer, I also have a good appreciation of the good work people do, and the good training people in the industry have."

[ends]

 

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