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A win for Win and the Buller show

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January 16, 2019


A win for Win and the Buller show

When veteran West Coast shearer Sam Win won his latest competition, at the age of 63, it helped solve a little mystery of the whereabouts of the trophy.

“I think I’ve got it at home,” he said.

Thus Saturday’s win at the Buller A and P Show at Patterson Park in Westport was followed by Sunday polishing the trophy, his name engraved as the last winner – in 1997.

Not quite. He did win again in 1998, but with the competition cancelled because of rain in 1999 and then going into recess, the silverware remained at his Ikamatua home, without ever getting back to the show, nor the engraver.

While the A and P show continued, marking its century six years ago, the dwindling number of shearers in the area meant the competition was always going to struggle to come back, but it did, in one form or another, after someone in town wanted five or six sheep shorn, about six years ago.

Neil Walters, who farms sheep, long-horned cattle, appaloosa horses and ponies just north of Westport, took up the challenge to get shearing back at the show, told the would-be client the only time to get them done would be on Saturday, which just happened to be the day of the biggest annual event in town.

“Bring ‘em down to the show,” he said.

Everyone was surprised by the interest in the display and thus shearing at the Buller Show was reborn.

While still essentially a display for punters, a competition has evolved – because people wanted to sponsor it, with a few willing hands, including those of Neil Walters, there’s a three-stand board propped-up on a curtain-sided trailer, there’s an “Open” competition and a “Local” for a few who barely shear half-a-dozen or so a year.

More than 160 sheep were shorn on the day.

Win, stalwart of the Reefton Shears at the Inangahua Show on the first Saturday of each February said the few shearers at Westport enjoy the day as much or even more as the general showgoers, even though not being on the Shearing Sports New Zealand any more it doesn’t attract that superstars.

But the money ain’t bad, and on Saturday Win picked-up $500 in prizes.

It included $350 for beating 27-year-old workmate and promising Reefton-based shearer Paul Hodges, from Geraldine, and another $150 for finishing runner-up to Hodges in a Speedshear.

In the main event, Win showed right from the start he was there to, um, win, and shore his first lamb in the heats in 45 seconds.

Hodges was still the favourite, until he struggled to settle with one of the lambs. Picking the moment, and well-known of his encouragement of youngsters in the shearing game, urged the sheep: “Kick, you bastard. Kick!”

The final was of just five lambs each, leaving Hodges with little room to recover enough to win. “It was right up my alley,” said Win.

Third was Marlborough shearer Arthur “Chook” Harris, who won last year in Win’s absence, fourth was Win’s younger brother, Kerry, and the “local” shearing final was won by Don Fergus, of Westport.

Win was soon back home where he’s looking for a good crowd for the Reefton Shears on February 2, and a Speedshear afterwards at the local fire station, raising funds for the volunteer brigade.

Walters also has another job to, planning the Hillbilly Shears at the Pines Hotel in Westport, on a date to be set in about three months’ time, as a cancer fundraiser.


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