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Old Guns Return For NZ Merino Shears Next Weekend

Old Guns Return For NZ Merino Shears Next Weekend

By Des Williams

Seven former champions are among the gun shearers who will line up at Alexandra’s Molyneux Stadium next weekend [15/16 Sep] to contest the 46th annual New Zealand merino shearing championships.

Notable among the entrants in the PGG Wrightson-sponsored event is ageless Samson Te Whata of Northland, who won the first of his four national titles at the venue in 1980, and last made the final six in 1993. Te Whata has recently returned to New Zealand after many years shearing and instructing in Australia.

Southlander Darin Forde has also entered the competition again after a period of semi retirement, having won the title in 1999 and 2001. Forde represented New Zealand at the 2000 world championships in South Africa, where he finished second.

“I’ve been doing a little bit of shearing lately, though nothing on merinos, so thought I might as well have another shot – though I’ll be going to Alexandra without any great expectations,” the Winton contractor said. Forde still holds the world record for shearing adult sheep in a nine-hour day, having set a tally of 721 at Wairaki Station in 1997.

Among the rising stars with prospects of doing well on the notoriously difficult fine wool sheep next weekend are Invercargill’s Nathan Stratford, and Jason Win of Nelson. Win finished sixth in last year’s final, while Stratford has finished fourth in the past two finals and may well progress up the ladder this year.

NZ Merino Shears secretary Miriam Lippers of Alexandra say the organizing committee is thrilled with the level of entries for the competition, with numbers already on a par with last year and entries still being received.

“The open woolhandling entries look particularly strong, with the likes of two-times world champion Joanne Kumeroa, past champions Gina Nathan and Tina Rimene and several other finalists all keen to have another go.”

The winner of the open shearing at Alexandra will join Golden Shears champion Dion King of Napier and Te Kuiti’s James Fagan in the Elders Primary Wool-sponsored New Zealand team for the first leg of the bi-annual trans-Tasman test series at Hay, NSW, early next month.


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