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Wool News Summer 2020 Maree Mather
19 November 2020

Wool News: Staff Profile - Maree Mather

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.

Related Articles

Wool News: Lessons in wool at Longbeach School

19 November 2020

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. 

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

Wool News: Genetics breakthrough on measuring methane levels emitted by sheep

19 November 2020

New Zealand farmers are the first in the world able to breed low methane-emitting sheep.

A ten year breeding programme funded by the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre resulted in a breeding value for methane emissions.

AgResearch scientist Dr Suzanne Rowe led the research. She says comparing flocks separated into low and high emitting, on average there was a difference of 11 per cent of methane emitted per unit of feed between high and low methane emitters, with no apparent difference in the health, productivity or profitability of the respective sheep.

“We are seeing more lean growth, carcass yield and wool production in the low methane sheep, without any negative trade-offs.”

This breeding programme, which confirmed methane emissions are heritable, allowed for the establishment of a breeding value for the trait incorporated onto Sheep Improvement Limited database (now nProve) last year.

Stud breeders have embraced the opportunity to measure the methane emissions in their stud animals.

Information from Beef+Lamb New Zealand. More detail:


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