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"If NZer's are born to do anything, it is to shear sheep, although my argument suffers a little when I mention that NZ was recently beaten in the world shearing competition - yes, there IS one - by, you guessed it, the @*%&*@^ Aussies.."
- Peter Walker

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NZ

Kiwi rugby pride
by Peter Walker, 36, Christchurch, New Zealand
Oct 11, 1999

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Several NZer's are having moderate success on the European and US Golf Tours. Bob Charles is arguably NZ's greatest golfer, and Tiger Woods headhunted his NZ caddy.

Over recent years, NZ has boasted the world women's squash champion for several consecutive years, Susan Devoy; world record holding runner John Walker; Danyon Loader, who won double swimming gold in Atlanta; Aaron Slight, who rides some kind of motorbike faster than anyone else; NZ equestrians have dominated the world riding competitions, Blythe Taite and Mark Todd to name two; and NZ rowers are internationally respected for their skill (and drinking ability). I might also go so far as to mention Rod Millen and Possum Bourne, two rally drivers who have footed it with the big guys for some time. And if I'm not mistaken, our mens and womens softball teams have done very well internationally.

The only sports, in the international playing arena, at which NZ sucks, are soccer and rugby league. But at least in those sports we're still having a go at the real guns. And with Ballroom Dancing (a particular favourite of mine - true!) now a recognised Olympic competition, NZ will also kick butt in that.

But the sport that must surely personify the rugged, rustic nature of a primitive New Zealand is sheep-shearing. Yes. Sheep-shearing. It IS a sport. But it's more than that. It's more than a pastime. It is the standard by which any NZ sportsman must be judged. If NZer's are born to do anything, it is to shear sheep, although my argument suffers a little when I mention that NZ was recently beaten in the world shearing competition - yes, there IS one - by, you guessed it, the @*%&*@^ Aussies. And my argument further loses credibility when I confess that the closest I have come to any sheep recently is at the buffet at Sequoia 88, a great restaurant on Main North Road you MUST visit when you're here.

Nevertheless, with 30 or so sheep for every person in NZ, sheep-shearing is the sport at which every blue-eyed innocent, idealistic child dreams of excelling. Unfortunately, with the intricacies of the technique and the level of skill required to excel at sheep-shearing being far beyond mere mortal children, embarrassed parents too often encourage their challenged children into other sporting pursuits, such as rugby, netball, and cricket. But many a story has been told of great sporting heroes, who, in the throws of their final gasp, lamented their failure to succeed in the physically gruelling and intellectually demanding true sport of the gods - sheep-shearing.

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