Topic: Godfrey Bowen

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World Champion Shearer, Field Director of NZ Wool Board, Agrodome Co-Founder, & MBE.

Excerpt from Obituary, Daily Post 4 January 1994, with further details added by A.Leigh, Information Resources Librarian, Rotorua District Library.

Godfrey Bowen was a former world champion shearer and co-founder of the Agrodome [ with George Harford ]. A quietly spoken man equally at home shearing in the backblocks of his home country or demonstrating his skills to awestruck Russian villagers of the Ukraine. 

Godfrey was the second youngest in a line of five brothers, [ these being Ivan, Ken, Eion & Colin (who died at age 15 in a bush accident).]  Brought up in Te Puke, since the age of 10, on a farm in Rangiuru.  His dad was known as Pop Bowen by the community children to whom he told bible stories at the local church Sunday School. The family were regular church goers and attended the Oxford Street Chapel in Te Puke.  Godfrey and older brothers owned a sawmill at Te Puke for several years, later brother Eion owned it outright.  By 1970 Godfrey was recorded as living in Levin and information about him can be found on Kete Horowhenua.

On moving to Rotorua in 1971, he joined the Ranolf Street Chapel and continued to worship there until it's closure in 1970s, after this time he worshipped at the Fenton Park Gospel Chapel, formed when the Ranolf Street premises became too small, until his death (at church) on Sunday morning, the 2nd of January 1994.

He was the holder of the world 9 hour shearing record, although this was in doubt until he decided to settle the issue in January of 1953 (see Rotorua Post 7 Jan 1953). He advertised his attempt and a crowd of 2500 paid £1. per head to see him shear his way to fame with the last of 456 sheep penned inside the time limit (The money he raised went to charity). He went on to better his own record at Taradale in 1960, and again in Wales where a smaller breed of sheep enabled him to shear 559!. 

He was a awarded  an MBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1960, and held the title Field Director of the NZ Wool Board until 1983.  He was married to Mavis and had two sons and two daughters. His son, Paul Bowen, carried on the legacy of the Agrodome with Warren Harford, son of the other original founder Mr G. Harford.   In 1995 another 'Agrodome' was built in Tokyo using the Lockwood method, and opened July 26, 1996.  The Agrodome also added tourist attraction rides in 1998, with 'Agroventures' offering the Agrojet speed boat ride, the Swoop, Freefall Xtreme, Rotorua Bungy and more recently the Shweeb for adrenalin junkie adventure rides.

Godfrey wrote several books on sheep and shearing, these being "Wool away" c1955, "New Zealand and it's sheep" in 1971, reprinted in 1980  "The Ringer's stand" a novel in 1982, "Why the Shepherd" in 1988.   He also wrote "New Zealand and it's cattle" in 1982.


See : Digital NZ, for photographs of Godfrey shearing and demonstrating the Bowen Technique invented by older brother Ivan. This technique is still in use across NZ today (2013). 

Sources : The Rotorua Post, Don Stafford Files and Information Resources Librarian, Alison Leigh, which includes memories of Constance Leigh (nee Twist) who lived in Te Puke at the same time as the Bowen family.

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Godfrey Bowen

First Names:Walter Godfrey
Last Name:Bowen