Shear Hard Work brings to life the ise and bustle, the long days and hard work, and the extraordinary men and women of the New Zealand shearing industry. From the 1850s, when shearers were disparaged as the 'very dregs of the colonial democracy', to the present day when New Zealand shearers set world records and shear sheep around the globe, shearers have played a defining role in New Zealand life. Historian and former wool classer Hazel Riseborough has travelled from Meri stations in Central Otago and high-country blade sheds in Canterbury, to competitions and to the women's world record attempts at Waikaretu and Mangapehi, to tell this great New Zealand story for the first time. Dr Riseborough brings us the history of shearing in the words of the shearers and shedhands, wool handlers and classers, cooks and contractors who work in the sheds, compete at the shows and set the records. She chronicles key changes in the industry - from the mechanisation of shearing to the expansion of the shearing season and the shrinking of the New Zealand flock. She explores the changing culture of shearing, the role of Maori and women, and how the efforts of Ivan and Godfrey Bowen helped professionalise the industry. And she looks at those things that persisted - the challenge and competition of life in the shearing shed and the glory of being the 'ringer', the fastest shearer on the board. Shear Hard Work takes us into the country's rural heart and introduces us to some extraordinary New Zealanders who are on the job at 5 a.m. and who sweat their way to shear brilliance.
Arnold Wilson (Tuhoe, Te Arawa) is a distinguished sculptor and educator who first developed the Pakeaka cultural education programme. He lectures in Visual Arts at Auckland's Manukau Institute of Technology. Janinka Greenwood, Pakeha of Czech descent, is a playwright and poet and teaches at Christchurch College of Education. She recently received the Distinguished Dissertation Award from the American Alliance of Theatre and Education for her PhD thesis Journeys into a Third Space: A Study of how Theatre Enables Us to Interpret the Emergent Space Between Culture .