Ian Hopkirk’s time with PGG Wrightson, and prior to that Williams and Kettle, started in 2003. Before then he farmed in the King Country, while also contracting as a shearer, both overseas and around New Zealand. In addition, his varied career includes gaining a teaching degree, then working as a teacher for a few years, owning a Waiouru takeaway and training shearers.
However, wool has provided a constant theme through most of his career, which is why his present role, as a Feilding-based wool representative for PGG Wrightson, is a natural fit.
He says the Manawatu is well suited to growing wool.
“Our hill country works for those growing crossbred wool, predominantly Romney based, though has a good mixture of downland stock finishing country as well, while also featuring pockets suitable for lamb finishers.
“Wool has faced difficult times. However, over-riding trends around environmental sustainability will turn this around, hopefully sometime soon. That will improve the outlook for all in the sector, and I advise wool growers to stick to their knitting, maintain preparation standards and stay true to sound breeding genetics. While of course the lamb meat market is a big driver, take care not to let your wool slip. At some stage it is going to swing back for wool growers and the industry will turn around. If you have let your genetics go, it will take a long time to recover them,” he says.
Ian’s commitment to wool extends beyond his job. In his own time he is a judge in competitive shearing and wool handling, while his wife, Jo, is a Golden Shears referee.
“It’s great to be able to give something back to wool, and particularly to be able to do so together, as a couple,” says Ian.