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April 6, 2009

Running The Sheep.

In Spain, they have the running of the bulls. In New Zealand we have running of the sheep.

Mention the small town of Te Kuiti and most New Zealanders automatically think of sheep. It might have something to do with the fact that the NZ Shearing championships are held there or the fact that David Fagan, a world champion shearer comes from Te Kuiti. They have a huge statue of a shearer in the town centre. Each year they host the annual running of the sheep. The run took place a few days ago, and they had a few problems this year. The sheep ran amok, leaping over barriers designed to protect the spectators. One woman was knocked out. Around 1500 sheep were released and only 400 crossed the finish line.

Here’s a Youtube from a previous year showing images and live footage plus some foot-tapping music. Enjoy!

When people think about sheep and New Zealand, they often start with sheep jokes. I couldn’t find any definite figures on the number of sheep in NZ, but the numbers have definitely declined in recent years due to a surge in dairy farming. I know my father used to have quite a few sheep but has scarcely any these days. My sister has a pet lamb (now fully grown) called Pandora who terrorizes our little dog every time she visits. Scotty knows to keep far, far away from Pandora. I had pet lambs when I was a kid and entered agricultural shows. I still remember my pet lamb, Belinda. She was a real champion.

Some sheep facts from An Encyclopedia of New Zealand 1966 for the historians among us…

– New Zealand’s first sheep were set ashore by Captain Cook on 20 May 1773.

– Rapid sheep population growth in the 1850s and 1860s was mostly attributable to permanent immigration rather than natural increase. In 1864 alone, 13,000 sheep arrived in Canterbury from Australia. Droughts meant that sheep could always be bought cheaply from Australia. Drought continues to affect Australian farmers and sheep numbers.

– The first shipment of frozen lamb and mutton sailed to London from Port Chalmers aboard the Dunedin in 1882.

What would you do if a sheep came charging at you during the running of the sheep?


  1. Sandra Cox

    I prefer unning of the sheep to running of the bulls. I’d rather have sheep sheared than bulls stabbed for fun.

  2. Deanna Price

    :mrgreen: I never knew that about NZ that is interesting

  3. Voronda

    Scream and not move……

  4. julia

    Love the footage! I like how at one point a whole section did a ‘hinged-door’ maneuver, like cavalry horses.

  5. Alice Audrey

    I’d try to get out of the way. If the people are packed in as tight at the sheep, that could be a challenge.

  6. Roberta Harwell

    I think I would at least try to get out of the way if possible. Have a great day.

  7. Amy W.

    That’s just weird. I don’t understand the running of the bulls either. Sigh.

  8. Kaye Manro

    How interesting Shelley! A pet sheep– I think that would just be so cool. As for the charging sheep, I have no idea what I would do– most likely freeze up!

  9. Shelley Munro

    Sandra – at least the bulls have a chance of getting their own back during the running. It’s not something I’m keen to watch though.

    With the sheep, it’s like living in the country anyway with farmers shifting sheep or cattle on the road. You’re in danger of getting manured! :grin:

    Voronda – grin. That would probably divert them. I don’t know how the lady was injured. The sheep and people must have panicked. I hate to say it, but sheep aren’t always the most intelligent animals.

  10. Shelley Munro

    Julia – the footage made me laugh. I thought it all looked fairly orderly, although from what I hear there was panic at this year’s event.

  11. Shelley Munro

    Kaye – there’s nothing more satisfying than raising calves or lambs by hand. My father and sister still do it. I think they have two calves at the moment.

  12. Shelley Munro

    Alice and Roberta – LOL. I think I’d act like a tree and stand still, but maybe close my eyes. Luckily I’m tall enough to act like a tree.

    Amy W – LOL I don’t get it either. Weird, huh?

  13. Amy Ruttan

    I don’t know what I would do if sheep were threatening to trample me, maybe get out some mint sauce?? ;)

  14. Shelley Munro

    Tee hee. I think mention of mint sauce would do the trick and keep you safe.

  15. Christina Phillips

    Haha, mint sauce. Oh that’s too cruel!! :lol:

  16. Barbara Martin

    I would be thinking of all those lamb chops, roasts, etc. The lamb meat I purchase in the stores here all come from New Zealand. Best mutton in the world.

  17. Barbara Martin

    If Christina Phillips thinks mint sauce is cruel, then she would think Persian lamb coats, once the perfect coat in the 1930s and 40s, horrid.