Header Image

Helping grow
the country

< Back to Latest News
Wool News Summer 2020: Lessons in wool at Longbeach
19 November 2020

Wool News: Lessons in wool at Longbeach School

PGG Wrightson Wool rep and South Island auctioneer Doug McKay was a guest recently at Ashburton’s Longbeach School, which this year chose to focus on wool as their Country Day theme. Presenting to the whole school, Doug talked about the different purposes and types of wool, passing round plenty of samples to give his young audience a hands-on feel for the fibre. Lanolin was one of the subjects for the older children, who also produced some wool related art for a school exhibition.


Photo: Doug McKay (right) with principal Neil Simons (left) and Longbeach School pupils, who are all wearing the school’s merino jersey supplied by True Fleece, the knitwear company established by PGG Wrightson woolgrowers Carl and Tori Uren of Le Bons Bay. 

Related Articles

Wool News: Family service brackets both ends of woolstore's existence

19 November 2020

In 1934 LC Rolls was General Manager of Williams and Kettle, a stock and station agency and general merchant of 50 years standing with branches throughout the east coast of the North Island.

Headquartered in Napier, three years into recovery from its massive earthquake Mr Rolls was responsible for building the company’s new premises on the waterfront at Port Ahuriri, where capacity for up to 30,000 bales made it the Southern Hemisphere’s largest woolstore.

Fast forward 86 years to this spring, and the end of the ‘Number Four’ building’s use as a woolstore. Purely by coincidence the last bale of wool carted out of the store was taken by Bruce Rolls, grandson of LC. Now semi-retired, Bruce has continued a fine family tradition of working for Williams and Kettle, which became part of PGG Wrightson in 2005.

“My grandfather started as a 14 year old and worked for the company for 32 years. At the time many people thought he was mad for building such a big store, though it more than justified itself as the years went on. My father Bob Rolls also worked for Williams and Kettle, giving 45 years of service, and with my tenure, across the three generations we have put in a total of 114 years between us,” says Bruce.

Williams and Kettle’s Number Four building now belongs to Big Save, operating as their distribution warehouse for the upper North Island.

Wool News: Staff Profile - Maree Mather

19 November 2020

Maree, right, was at the Waimai Ram Sale recently where she caught up with Elle Perriam from Allflex, who acknowledged the proceeds from the sale of a donated ram towards ‘Will to Live,’ encouraging more young people to speak up.

Working alongside growers in Waikato, north to the Auckland Harbour Bridge and throughout the Bay of Plenty where she is based, Maree Mather joined PGG Wrightson Wool in May 2015. 

In the current challenging climate she says you have to be passionate about wool to remain positive.

“I have farms that have converted to trees, and some looking at options other than wool production. Shearing costs persuaded several farmers into full wool this season, when traditionally this is a second shear region. Fortunately, that has reduced the cost structure more than the returns.

“Now more than ever, growers need to present an excellent product, particularly ensuring their sheep are dry when shorn, and there is no raddle in the wool.  

“However, only one per cent of the world apparel fibre market is wool: if that percentage were to increase only slightly we wouldn’t be able to produce enough wool in New Zealand to meet global demand,” she says.

Growing up on a Whangarei farm, Maree started her career with a Diploma in Wool and Wool Technology from Massey University. Experience as a wool handler and crossbred wool classer followed, then travelling the world working in England, Norway and Australia.

These days work entails a mix of auction, shed pricing and contracts.

“With such a huge area there is usually someone doing something with wool, whether it be shearing, wools in school, or understanding test results with clients.

“My most valuable role is being in the shed at shearing. Because shed hands are quite transient, I know someone will ask about preparation, and that is the value of on the job training: understanding why you do something,” she says.

Maree is easily recognisable: apart from the PGG Wrightson branding, her car usually has kayak roof racks on top. 

“I am lucky to have the Rotorua lakes so handy and kayaking has taken me to some amazing places that most people can’t access.

“I sit in a car for most of the day, so try to make sure I don’t sit down much otherwise. I always have heaps of projects on the go, which at the moment includes ‘training’ to tramp the Abel Tasman,” she says.

It amazes her that the average kiwi home with synthetic carpet is similar to having 22,000 plastic bags on the floor, by weight.

“We need to make sure facts like that are more widely understood. As an industry, we need to work together to keep the integrity of New Zealand wool. It is at the top of the world market choices and we need to keep it there.

“I’m always on the lookout at cottage industries to find out what people are doing with wool. I bought some expensive felted soap the other day, made on Great Barrier Island: it smells so good,” says Maree.

Wool News: Company's first 'Woolinar,' in October, well received

19 November 2020

In mid-October PGG Wrightson held the company’s first wool webinar. An online woolshed meeting, nicknamed the ‘Woolinar,’ we welcomed wool growers from around the country, alongside participants from the United Kingdom, India and Australia.

Aiming to provide growers with relevant sector information, the woolinar heard from PGG Wrightson Chair Rodger Finlay, CEO Stephen Guerin, and senior wool management including General Manager Grant Edwards, and Bloch & Behrens GM Palle Petersen.

Stephen noted that the company has been committed to the wool industry throughout its 165 year history, employs some 100 wool business staff and invests significantly in wool procurement.

Guests Lars Pedersen and Ole Winther, from Danspin, Denmark, provided insight from their perspective as a major international manufacturer and one of the world’s largest users of New Zealand wool.

Feedback indicates support for similar events from growers and the wider industry. Sharing knowledge throughout the supply chain will help bring the sector together to focus on effectively marketing our sustainable fibre and its many unique characteristics.

More woolinars are planned next year.


Photo Left to Right: Rob Cochrane, Grant Edwards, Stephem Guerin, Rodger Finlay and Palle Petersen

Share this page