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Roaming Free

On the next episode screening 3 August at 7pm on TV ONE

Roaming Free

Alan Vuletich has led such a colourful life that he's become a popular speaker around Dargaville.

Widely known as 'Dally' because of his Dalmatian ancestry, Alan spent many years travelling to the United States and Australia as a shearer.

As a child he dreamed of becoming a cowboy and fulfilled that goal by working alongside "real cowboys" in Wyoming every shearing season for 20 years.

Dally worked in mobile sheds, moving from ranch to ranch and managing a gang of predominately Kiwi shearers.

"It was so different from New Zealand," he says. "Often we were shearing with snow on the ground. 

"Sheep-farmers there have to protect their flocks from bears, wolves and coyotes.  One huge ranch we went to was 2.5 million acres (1.1 million hectares)."

Towards the end of his travelling days, Dally's wife, Kim, went with her husband. She worked on the wool press, as a rousie and drove a truck and caravan.  She says it was a great experience but a hard life, especially when working in 70-knot winds in temperatures well below zero.

Dally also has stories about working in Australia during the shearers' strike in the early 1980s.  He and other New Zealanders were caught up in violent situations because the Australian shearers' union labelled them as scabs. The New Zealanders were also set apart because they used wider combs for shearing, tools that were spurned by their Australian counterparts.

Back in New Zealand, Dally hasn't slowed down.  He has a job as stock manager on a large cattle farm at Okahu, half an hour's drive from his home near Dargaville.

On top of that, he and Kim own a 65 hectare property where they are on a mission to become as self-sufficient as possible.  The couple raise cattle, sheep, pigs, hens, bees and Clydesdale horses, and grow their own corn and vegetables.

Horses are Dally's passion.  He uses them as much as possible on the Okahu property and also trains Clydesdales to work on his own farm.

"Dally really is the cowboy he dreamed of becoming as a child," says Kim.  "But he's more than that.  He's a great stockman, he's a skilled trainer of dogs and horses, and can do anything around the farm, like building and fencing."

She admits to having been something of a cowgirl herself, having worked in dairying and breeding pedigree cattle, although she's now graduated as a nurse.

The couple teach their seven-year-old son, Jackson, the value of growing their own food and knowing where it comes from.

To contact Dally and Kim, email:

To find out more about the Dargaville Dalmatian Club, visit:

To find out more about the Kauri Coast, visit: 

To find out more about the Australian wide comb dispute, visit:  

Steve Fisher

Field sound
Don Anderson

Offline editor
Brent Whitwell

Online editor
Alex Wright

Sound mixer
Ian Leslie

Sound editor
Don Paulin

Vivienne Jeffs

Network executive
Jude Callen

Associate producer
Dan Henry

Production manager
Robyn Best

Carol Archie

Julian O'Brien