Shearing Show Entries Leap On Big Weekend
Worries about low wool prices, a shortage of shearers in the woolshed and the daily uncertainty of the coronavirus crisis were able to be put aside for the holiday weekend with big turnouts for three shearing and woolhandling competitions in the central North Island.
The Dannevirke A and P Show shears in Southern Hawke’s Bay on Friday, the Aria Waitangi Day Sports in southern King County on Saturday, and the Rangitikei Shearing Sports North Island championships on Sunday each attracted over 100 shearers and woolhandlers.
It started promisingly at Dannevirke with 99 shears and 49 woolhandlers, the Aria entry of 110 shearers and woolhandlers was close to the township’s 2018 census population of 129, and entries peaked at Marton with 101 shearers, and 54 woolhandlers, including record Novice entries of 19 shearers and 17 woolhandlers.
Competitors travelled from as far as Kaiwaka in Northland and Invercargill in the south.
Also on Saturday were the Northern Kaipara A and P Show Shears at Paparoa, and sole South Island Waitangi Day weekend event the Reefton Shears at the Inangahua A and P Show in Reefton, both on Saturday.
The unique three days of both shearing and woolhandling on successive days at three separate venues in the central North Island became possible after Rangitikei shears organisers gave-up their traditional first Saturday of February spot to avoid a clash with the Aria sports, which are always on Waitangi Day.
The show committee then initiated the MKM Mini Circuit, for Novice, Junior and Intermediate shearers and Novice and Junior woolhandlers, sponsored by Manawatu Knitting Mills and with the top four in each grade across the three shows winning a MKM 36.6 wool/possum mix jersey.
It attracted 38 entries at $20 a head for the circuit in addition to individual show entry costs and three days of travel and accommodation, with committee member and shearer/woolhandler Jimmy Samuels saying: “It did exceed expectations…A lot more entries than I thought…”
The three days provided plenty of opportunity, with particular highlights for Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels, Masterton woolhandler Samantha Gordon and Northland teenager Hamu Henderson.
Samuels, who leapt into prominence last February with wins in the Otago Shears and South Island Shearer of the Year finals before shearing to third place in his first Golden Shears Open final, had his first Open win in the North Island by beating a World-class lineup at Aria on Saturday – thought to be the first win by a South Island shearer in a North Island Open-class strongwool final since runner-up and Marlborough shearer Angus Moore won at Kaikohe while working in Northland in 2010.
Gordon’s triumph in Marton on Sunday was her first Open woolhandling win, and one of six wins for Abraham Shearing crew during the weekend, with brothers Joseph and Adam winning Intermediate titles at Dannevirke and Aria respectively, workmates Chris Dickson and Kyle Mita winning Senior titles at Aria and Marton respectively, and the Gordons’ brother-in-law and boss, Paerata Abraham., winning Aria Cosmopolitan Club speedshear on Saturday night.
Henderson won on his 14th birthday at Dannevirke and again the next day at Aria, being the only shearer or woolhandler to win twice as 27 titles decided at the three shows were shared among 26 competitors. Henderson was also one of just to get maximum points in the circuit, based on heats points at the three shows, and his uncle, Toa Henderson, was the only shearer to reach all three Open shearing finals.
Shearing Sports New Zealand Sir David Fagan said the competitor numbers reflected a keenness by competitors to enjoy their sport and the fraternity at whatever the cost after losing a third of the calendar’s shows in the last 12 months because of the coronavirus, but also the initiative of the Rangitikei Shearing Sports committee, headed by shearer Jacob Moore in getting together the MKM circuit for the lower grades - with “obvious success.”
The shows, with the Rangitikei Open heats incorporating the fourth round of the National Shearing Circuit, were also supported by top South Island shearers Leon Samuels, reigning circuit champion Angus Moore, from Marlborough, and former circuit winner Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill, each of whom were among the nine shearers who made Open finals over the three days.
Dannevirke convenor, farmer and 1995 Golden Shears Junior champion shearer Jane Leogreen said that despite the absence of shearers from overseas, whose entry to New Zealand to work as been limited by Covid-response border controls, her show attracted 13 more entries than last year.
Aria competition convenor and shearing contractor Mark Barrowcliffe said the shows had been an introduction to competition for several from his crews, including nine who loaded up one of the vans and competed at all three venues.
Pongaroa farmer David Buick, hoping to become the first Wairarapa shearer to win the Golden Shears Open final, won the Dannevirke Open final (his 6th win of the season), while defending seven-times Golden Shears champion Rowland Smith, of Maraekaho won at Marton.
Reigning Golden Shears woolhandling champion Joel Henare, of Gisborne, won the Dannevirke Open woolhandling title but was beaten at Aria by 2019-2020 No 1-ranked Open woolhandler Keryn Herbert, of Te Kuiti.
Winners at the three competitions were:
Dannevirke (Friday): Open shearing, David Buick (Pongaroa); Senior shearing, Reuben Alabaster (Taihape); Intermediate shearing, Joseph Gordon (Masterton); Junior shearing, Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka); Novice shearing, Sam Mathewson (Martinborough); Open woolhandling, Joel Henare (Gisborne); Senior woolhandling, Jimmy Samuels (Marton); Junior woolhandling, Te Whetu Brown (Wairoa); Novice woolhandling, Staci Hikawai (Dannevirke).
Aria (Saturday): Open shearing, Leon Samuels (Invercargill); Senior shearing, Chris Dickson (Masterton); Intermediate shearing, Adam Gordon (Masterton); Junior shearing, Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka); Novice shearing, Sean Fagan (Te Kuiti); Open woolhandling, Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti); Senior woolhandling, Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui); Junior woolhandling, Topia Barrowcliffe (Piopio); Novice woolhandling, Sheena Maru (Marokopa).
Rangitikei (Sunday): Open shearing, Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho); Senior shearing, Kyle Mita (Masterton); Intermediate shearing, Ellis Rees (Wales); Junior shearing, Michael Buick (Pongaroa); Novice shearing, Summer Pritchard (Pongaroa); Open woolhandling, Samantha Gordon (Masterton); Senior woolhandling, Azuredee Paku (Masterton); Junior final, Rahera Kerr (Hautupu); Novice final, Grace Croasdale (Masterton).