Sheep. It’s probably the first thing that people think of when they picture New Zealand. Who hasn’t heard: “New Zealand: country of 4 million people and 40 million sheep!” Even though it’s somewhat their claim to fame, I’ve found that most Kiwis are a bit embarrassed by sheep. In fact, I’d even say that (gasp) they don’t even like them! When a fellow American asked if I wanted to go to the Running of the Sheep, there was no hesitation. Sheep-shearing, sheep-mustering–could there be a more classically Kiwi event? (not to mention the goofy photo opportunities) But, Kiwi’s mostly replied: “Sheep are boring.” “Sheep are dumb.” If they only knew how mischievous they’d be this year….
The news report from online goes like this:
07:55pm | Te Kuiti’s “running of the sheep” held
Apr 4, 2009
One could have mistaken Te Kuiti for Pamplona for the annual “running of the sheep.” About 1500 Romney Ewes were let loose down the south Waikato town’s main street. While the event didn’t quite have the drama of Spain’s “running of the bulls” there was nothing to go “baaa humbug” about. With thousands of ewes and a party atmosphere, Te Kuiti was the place to be. “It’s a good opportunity for the townspeople and outsiders to see a big mob of sheep,” says Fagan.
Altogether, 14,077 sheep ran the gauntlet at Te Kuiti.
Source: ONE News
Well, this may have been written by a reporter, but I’m certain that the reporter wasn’t in Te Kuiti. In fact, probably this article was written the night before. Because, if it had really been written after the event, it would have been titled:
“The Year the Sheep Rebelled.”
We all lined up along the street—sheep costumes, kids, locals, and tourists alike–united in the anticipation of seeing thousands of sheep on the move. “I see them!” I finally shouted. Far down the street beigy fluff filled the street from one side to the other. We watched for them to get closer. Waited. “I think they’re farther away now. Wait, now I can’t see them at all!” Time passed. No sheep. Eventually a hum of a 4-wheeler and a small group of about 30 sheep are ushered frantically down the road. Waiting. Where are the rest of the sheep? Again, a cluster of fluff, this time though I can see the chaos: sheep jumping out the side, turning around in circles, huddling together, none wanting to lead the pack through the channel of sheep-voyeurs. A voice eventually apologizes on the loudspeaker, something like “sorry, but they’ve gotten away.”
“Gotten away”? Bwaahaaahaa. What great images THAT brings. Can you imagine a gang of rebellious sheep, conspiring in their pens for the great Muster Breakaway! And, when the moment comes—BAAAAAnzai and they are gone. Scampering across the highway, maybe through the rickety fair rides, hopping into backs of unsuspecting trucks. Seeking adventure. Seeking freedom from their stifling stereotypes. Tired of the strangling neck-holds while being stripped of their wool and dignity. Sheep looking for a new horizon.
I like this new image of sheep. I also think that if the reporters would have been more accurate, some Kiwis may have been proud knowing that their dumb mascots have more spunk than first suspected.
Tags: New Zealand, US of A