Corriedale Wool Sample

Monday 17 June 2019

This wool sample was donated alongside reports and several photographs by Catherine Comber, the daughter of Henry Murdoch (Harry) Sievwright.

Corriedale wool sample

Wool sample collected from a corriedale sheep prior to more than 1,000 being shipped to China from Canterbury in 1947. Canterbury Museum 2018.142.3

Sievwright was a shepherd with the Department of Agriculture who in 1947 selected more than 1,000 New Zealand corriedale sheep to be exported to China. The export was a United Nations project to improve the quality of sheep in China, nicknamed Operation Bo-Peep by the Chinese press.

The sheep sailed to China aboard the United States vessel SS Lindenwood Victory. Sievwright travelled with the livestock and managed their distribution in China.

After arriving arriving in Shanghai, China, most of the sheep were flown to rural areas, but a small flock of 25 stud ewes and 3 stud rams (donated by the South Island Corriedale Breeders Association) was loaded into a military transport plane to fly 1,700 km to Lanzhou in North West China. From there they travelled for 3 days by truck to Bailie School in Shandan.

Bailie School was founded in 1944 by Englishman George Hogg and Cantabrian Rewi Alley to help boys and girls to develop practical skills which they could take back to their villages to help lift the standard of living

 The school already had 600 sheep, and the plan was to breed the New Zealand corriedales with the existing flock to improve the quality of the wool, so it was suitable for clothing instead of carpets.

After a 6-month stay in China, Harry Sievwright returned home to his family, bringing with him items collected during his visit. Several pairs of sheep shears, a felted wool cape and hat set from Mongolia, reports written by Harry and several photographs have been donated to the Museum by his daughter and complement items connected to the visit donated by Harry’s wife Annette during the 1970s.

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