The town of Hunterville, a small community on SH1, in the Rangitikei district of the North Island of New Zealand, and is located half way between Taupo and Wellington. It has been running the shemozzle for 20 years (goodness, has it been that long?) so we jumped at the chance to finally go along and see what it all about. The town is well known for its statue of the huntaway, a specialized herding dog that uses its voice to drive the sheep. The town festival and market held on the first Saturday after Labour Day has a "Shepherds Shemozzle" - a race with man and dog with shepherds travelling from all over New Zealand to compete for the top prize.
Sheepdogs need sheep to work and sculptures of Romney sheep (by Robin Coleman) commemorate sheep farming in the area. Over the past century a huge number of Romney sheep have been driven through town on their way to the Main Street sale yards.
Romany sheep sculptures by Robin Coleman
We parked our car on the outskirts and walked down where all the action was, passing some pretty young “Tooth Fairies” on the way. Come and get a new toothbrush, they invited us, so we did. Behind them is a travelling dental van, which calls into smaller rural communities, complete with a dentist’s chair peeping through the door.
Preparations were underway for the first race – helpers were setting out obstacles for the Family Shemozzle. Luckily we found a seat on a handy pint sizes grand-stand, and sat down to watch developments, joining several from our caravan club.
Some of our Heretaunga Caravan Club members waiting for the action to start
It started with a sack race, swung over hay bales, and face dipping for onions
Parents were blindfolded, led under the net, through the cage
And a wheelbarrow race to the finish line
We noticed a strange phenomena in the sky – the sun was very hazy and had a ring right around it. Very strange, but there is sure to be a reasonable explanation from someone in the know.
What’s happened to the sun?
With the first race over we took ourselves off to find some lunch amongst the take-away vans. There were hay bales dotted around so we claimed one to sit in the sunshine and eat our lunch.
Lunch in the sunshine
Another race was underway and we watched as kids slipped and slid over a stretch of soapy plastic while the crowd lobbed water balloons at them. Then they took off and ran up a steep hill, then headed down town to the finish line. Oh – to be so young and active!
Our energy levels were waning so we didn’t stay to watch the premier race due to start at 3.00pm, shepherds and their dogs. But we had a great time at the Shemozzle, and so pleased we finally enjoyed the experience.