Topic: Employment

East Coast sheep shearing gang keeping tradition alive

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes
  • North Island: East Coast

In the region with the highest unemployment rates in NZ, Sheep shearing and wooldhandling traditions on the East Coast are being kept alive by Tui Hyde, who is providing jobs for the next generation.

Day in, day out, this shearing gang are in the woolshed working hard.

“It's a passion aye, my old man was a contractor and just brought up in the sheds just loved it aye I had to take it on take over the old man's run so that was me", says Hyde.

In the main shearing season from Nov-Feb, Tui Hyde employs up to 40 people.

“I woolhandled for about four years, I pressed for a couple of years, so I knew all that skill and to run a good business you've got to have the right people", says Hyde. 

Around 220,000 tonnes of wool is harvested annually in New Zealand and the woolsheds have always been an important industry for families on the East Coast.

Tui Hyde says, “There are a few young ones they're probably the more naughty ones but you know they're good it's good to see a lot of young woolhandlers and shearers coming up in the industry, you don't see as many on the East Coast as what you did back in the day but it's good, got a good young crew."

With 6AM starts, the crew is up at 330AM. Hyde says it's a tough job and it's not for the faint-hearted.

“You've just got to prepare yourself the day before, do all your chores what needs to be done for the next day and if you enjoy it, you enjoy the people, the company, the work, then it'll suit you.”

Hyde says he will continue the work in the woolshed until he longer has the passion before passing on to the next generation.