Warren White “makes things happen”.
So says Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan of the Waimate shearing contractor who was recently joint winner of the Levno Outstanding Contribution to Rural Sport award at the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards.
Shearing features predominantly in Mr White’s life. As well as running his own business, he is president of the Waimate Shears and hopes to bring the world shearing and wool handling championships to the South Canterbury town one day.
He was also the driving force behind the building of an $800,000 shearing pavilion at the Southern Canterbury A&P showgrounds, opened in 2017, which was also used by the community for other events and functions.
Mr White started shearing in 1980 and he loved it because it was hard work which paid off.
“The more you shear, the more you get paid,” he said.
He also loved how competitive it was as “you’re always racing your mate.”
He was humbled and surprised by winning the award, along with harness racing enthusiasts Murray and Deneece Goldsworthy, and he enjoyed the weekend of activities, including shearing, held as part of the New Zealand Rural Games.
What motivated Mr White was people coming to watch shows at the Waimate Shears and enjoying the sport.
“We run a good show. People keep coming back next year,” he said.
About 14 to 15 years ago, shearing competitions used to cost about $5 each, but he remembered when a family could not afford to pay and decided entry should be free, so anyone could enjoy it. He made money from selling beers and raffles instead, and other fundraising activities as it could cost up to $50,000 to run a show.
Mr White was pleased with the purpose-built pavilion. It had also been well used for other functions including weddings, funerals and meetings.
The A&P show and Mr White’s Waimate Shears committee went halves in the cost of the pavilion and plans to revamp it were ongoing.
Several years ago, a ROTEK camera was bought for live streaming so people could watch the shearing competitions from anywhere in the world.
Shearing competitions were all about speed and quality. The goal for competitive shearers and woolhandlers was to make the Golden Shears, held in March in Masterton. However, this year’s event was cancelled due to Covid-10, while the New Zealand Shearing Championships were being held in Te Kuiti in early April.
Last year, Mr White helped settle uncertainty in the sport due to Covid-19 by adding the South Island woolhandling finals and winter comb open shearing event to the programme at the 53rd Waimate Spring Shears.
It was a big show as entries flooded in after the cancellation of the New Zealand Merino Shears in Alexandra and some of the country’s biggest names in shearing and woolhandling competed.
Mr White was grateful for support from the local community.
It was a busy life for him with also running his own business. He was usually up at 5am-5.30am to make sure his gangs were getting to work and sorting any issues they might have, such as machines breaking down.