Meet the wool handler involved in seven shearing world-records

Natalie Te Huia demonstrates world-class wool handling skills at Gnadbro


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She's earned the praise of one of the world's best shearers for her wool handling skills.

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PRECISION and speed could sum up the skilled broom and footwork of wool handler Natalie Te Huia as she took to the board at Gnadbro during the world record shearing in the Riverina.

The Kiwi, who now calls Lucindale in South Australia home, drove more than nine hours to assist fellow New Zealander Aidan Copp in achieving his world record of shearing 524-first cross lambs.

But for Natalie it wasn't the first world record she has been involved in. Saturday's effort notched up the seventh world record in which she was part of the team.

While people may assume that record attempts always go to plan Natalie explained that she had seen occasions when it hadn't in fact worked out.

But she had faith, even before the first sheep was shorn on Saturday, that Aidan would achieve his goal.

Natalie is from a family of shearing success stories. Her brother Stacey Te Huia set the world Merino nine-hour shearing record at Dubbo, in 2015 with an impressive 530-ewe effort.

And her sister Kerri-Jo Te Huia set a woman's nine-hour strong-wool ewe record of 452, at Otapawa Station woolshed.

Kerri-Jo also holds an eight-hour lambs record of 507 set in a King Country shed in January 2012 and became the first woman to hold two records simultaneously in 34 years.

For Natalie there is no other option than simply being the best you can. She is an accomplished shearer, prides herself on exemplary wool handling skills and holds classing qualifications too.

"The old man didn't want us to just be shearers ... he trained us to be elite," she said when talking about the coaching and encouragement received from her family.

"We have all done the extra miles and we strive for excellence," she said.

Natalie said she she was so proud of the effort Aidan put into the record on Saturday. She said he was both physically and mentally prepared.

She said the Gnadbro shed was "full of" record holders on Saturday. It was a case of record-holders all helping Aidan to break a new record.

The man who could be seen with the stop watch and constantly encouraging and coaching Aidan with worlds of inspiration and advice over the eight-hours was Lou Brown.

Earlier this year Lou set a world record for shearing 497 Merino ewes in eight-hours. His experience and understanding was vital in keeping the numbers flowing and allowing Aidan to remain settled and focused.

Natalie said that working as a wool handler during a world record shearing was not like every-day roustabout or wool handling work.

She said it was important she stood back and watched Aidan and didn't disturb the flow at any stage. That said she also had to move swiftly.

"A shearer doesn't shear every sheep the same, the wool always comes off a little differently ... I stand back and watch the pattern," she said.

Natalie also separated out the different parts of the first-cross fleece as she went and this made the classing process quick and efficient. She said the quality of the Gnadbro wool ,which came off during the world record shearing, was excellent.

Aside from the physically demanding work of wool handling she said it was a mental game too.

And just as Aidan was physically fit and regularly completed 20-kilometre training runs Natalie explained that as a wool handler hours were spent in the gym and running too.

She commended Aidan for the work he did and explained that conditions were less than ideal on Saturday morning.

The cold and foggy weather meant in the initial stages the wool didn't come off as quickly as had been hoped.

"It would have been nice if it was warmer ... and I was a bit worried during the first run," she conceded.

"But he is an amazing shearer and I am so happy for him," she said of Aidan.

Natalie said the wool industry was full of opportunities and she encouraged people to become involved and perfect their skills. She said there were opportunities to travel and to do well.

"Saturday was an example of the excellence in this industry ... there were so many record holders in the one shed working at once," she said.

Former first-cross lamb record holder Dwayne Black, of Esperance Western Australia was also at Gnadbro on Saturday to encourage Aidan too.

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