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Action aplenty . . . The Highfield woolshed, near Waiau,  in 2010 when 24 stands were brought to life by shearers for the first time in many decades. PHOTO: Amanda Bowes

 

By AMANDA BOWES

Film footage of the Highfield Muster, where 24 shearers and a huge crowd filled the Highfield woolshed in late 2010, has finally been edited into a moving record of that day.

There was doubt the film would ever be made at all, as the footage had been taken away by film maker Allan Bollinger who was going to do the editing in the CTV building.

When the February 22 quake struck and the CTV building crumpled, it was thought all the material from the day was in it and the footage was lost. Luckily, it transpired that it was on the West Coast with Allan. Unluckily, he had had a health crisis and was unable to continue with the project.

Danette Moriarty, who was involved with the Highfield Muster from its inception says it was difficult to get the material back as Allan was still suffering from ill health and” we didn’t want to intrude on him or the family”.

Eventually the precious footage returned to Waiau, but with no money or experience on how to bring a DVD together, nothing happened.

Fast forward to the ANZAC 100 ride when Danette’s husband Greg became part of the Amuri Mounted Rifles. There he met Hawarden film producer Terry King who offered his services to bring life to the DVD.

“He did a fabulous job putting it all together and we had a red carpet event for the release of the film – just before the November earthquake turned us upside down,” says Danette.

Just finding the footage was a miracle, but even more special, was the record of many people in the film who have since passed away. Peter Northcote, who owned Highfield, was among them. He did get to see some drafts of the film, but Danette says it is a pity he never saw the completed DVD.

It had been Mr Northcote’s idea to have 24 shearers, having never seen the woolshed used to its full capacity in his life time. In its day, the 154 year old “Big red shed” as it was commonly known, saw 48,000 sheep shorn from the Highfield Station.

It was originally a blade shed, but in 1892 it was one of the first woolsheds in the country to install machines. With such a rich history, Peter could only imagine what it would have been like in its hey day.

A committee was formed to make his wish become reality and a day set to coincide with the Back To Waiau celebrations. The community got behind the idea and with 2000 sheep from “Woodchester” trucked in by Amuri Transport, the stage was set for shearers and shed hands.

Organisers were overwhelmed by the number of people who turned up to see the historic Highfield shed with a shearer on every stand – something which hadn’t happened in over 80 years

It now has even more significance as the woolshed was rocked off its foundations in November. Peter’s son, Micheal Northcote, says it will be repaired and as the past seven years have shown, this is one phoenix which will keep rising from the ashes.

The DVD is now for sale and proceeds will go back to the people who brought together this historic day on film. It can be ordered by emailing moriartyshearing@amuri.net. The cost is $35.