Emily Welch, a local from Waikaretu, is featured in an upcoming New Zealand documentary film called ‘She Shears.’
The film, recently shown at The New Zealand International Film Festival and set to be released on October 11 2018, is a story of five female sheep shearers and their road to the Golden Shears, the world’s premier shearing and wool handling championship.
“You don’t have to be rural to enjoy this film,” said 38 year old Emily. “It’s a beautiful story and scenery and its targeted at everyone not just rural. It’s also not just a women’s story but a movie for men and women!” Emily was approached about the film at the Golden Shears in 2016. Director Jack Nicol then called her and it went from there! Emily said “I thought it’d just be a little documentary. It grew much bigger than I thought!” The first filming was done at Golden Shears, then more in 2017 and also this year. “I think it’ll be shown at 60 odd theatres in New Zealand!”
Emily said she did it because it’s the right thing to do for the industry. “It gives women the idea they can do anything! It’s not political, or a huge feminist movement, it’s just great to have a story told! It’s an insight really, into what we do and a typical day for us, in a very male dominated industry. It’s to show people all at different stages of life, and it’s not only just for shearing!” Emily’s dad is a shearer and she asked him to teach her while she was at uni as she thought it would be a handy skill to have. She took up the hand piece full time when she was 22 and said “it’s quite an addictive sport!”
“I love the competition side of it!” said Emily. “You’re competing with yourself often, not other people. I love that when you’re within the gang all the time, there is such a team, family environment. I love that about the whole industry! Everyday you’re improving and racing the person next to you, or yourself. There’s lots to learn! We’re always learning and adjusting to be more efficient!”
Emily’s record is 648 lambs in 9 hours, which is 50 seconds a lamb. “For this you set a date and judges come to your farm. It’s about endurance! My speed shears are 1 in 20 odd seconds. For the show shearing you do five in the heats, 10 in the semis and about 20 in the final and it’s all about speed and quality.”
When asked about goals for the future Emily said “well, there’s a women’s competition at NZ Shears this time! That could be a good challenge. It’s funny it actually scares me when I have a target on my back. Normally with males I’m the underdog and I feel like there’s less pressure.” There is also an adventure race/spring challenge in Taupo that she will do.
‘She Shears’ premieres in Masterton on 10 October and will be at Pukekohe Cinema from the 11 October.