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Godfrey Bowen sets world sheep-shearing record

6 January 1953

Godfrey Bowen shearing at Ōpiki, Manawatū, 1953
Godfrey Bowen shearing at Ōpiki, Manawatū, 1953 (Alexander Turnbull Library, EP/1953/0034-G)

At Akers Station at Ōpiki, Manawatū, Godfrey Bowen set a new world record, shearing 456 full-wool ewes in nine hours. Bowen helped establish sheep shearing as a legitimate sport and was one of the first people inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.

In the years after the Second World War, Godfrey and his brother Ivan revolutionised the wool industry through their improved shearing methods – the ‘Bowen technique’ – which added value to the national clip and helped lift the profile of shearing.

After breaking the world record, Godfrey became chief shearing instructor for the New Zealand Wool Board. In 1954 he helped establish two university courses on the subject. In 1960 he was made an MBE for services to the sheep industry.

Godfrey Bowen taught the Bowen technique in many countries around the world. In 1971 he and local farmer George Harford opened the Agrodome near Rotorua. This ‘theme park dedicated to the New Zealand farm’ set the benchmark for rural tourism ventures.

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Godfrey Bowen sets world sheep-shearing record, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated