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Against the clock . . . Alexandra's Dion Morrell (left) and Troy Pyper, of Winton, put their skills to the test during the open machine semifinals at last year's Waimate Shears. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

The 50th edition of the Waimate Shears will feature a “test” between New Zealand and Australian shearers, organisers have confirmed.

Preparations are well advanced only a couple of months out from the October event, to be held for the first time in a new, purpose-built facility at the Waimate Showgrounds.

The Southern Canterbury A&P Association, which owns the 900sq m building, worked with the Waimate Shears group on its design.

Waimate Shears president Warren White said there was plenty of shearing action to look forward to at the two-day event.

He was particularly excited about the transtasman clash.

“We’ve done it a couple of times in the past and it’s been great. There’s two Australian blokes coming over for a ‘test’ and a couple of New Zealanders will go over there in November for a return test.”

He described it as the “Bledisloe Cup of shearing”.

Invitations had been sent out for the invitational speed shear on October 13, on the first day of the Waimate Shears.

Mr White said about 30 had been invited and he expected 16 to 18 of those to attend.

An intermediate blade-shearing challenge had yet to be confirmed, but he was “reasonably confident” it would go ahead.

“With it being the 50th .. there’s a lot of interest. It’s the only one I know of. Blade-shearing’s sort of a dying art, there’s not many young people taking it on. ”

He was also excited about the fleece throw, which had $1500 in prize money on offer.

“With the wool-handlers, we’re trying to support them.”

Sixteen-time New Zealand Golden Shears and five-time world shearing champion Sir David Fagan had been confirmed as guest speaker on October 12, the night before the shearing starts.

It was hoped he would give a shearing demonstration.

Meanwhile, about $60,000 was raised at a fundraising dinner for the new building on July 29, the first time it had hosted a major event.

Mr White was delighted with the result, and described the building as the “perfect venue” for functions.

“It was really, really successful. It’s all just to make the facility more user-friendly. It’s going to be really good.”

The Waimate Shears event will take place on October 13 and 14.