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Shearing Triumph After Lockdown Layoff

Reuben King on his way to his win in Friday night's NZ Shears Junior shearing championship final in Te Kuiti. Photo / SSNZ

A mechanical engineering graduate who was made redundant in a Covid-19 layoff last year just a few months into a new career after finishing university has been named the top Junior shearer in New Zealand.

Reuben King, 24, won the Junior shearing final at the New Zealand Shears shearing and woolhandling championships in Te Kuiti last night (Friday), and soon afterwards was named the No 1-ranked shearer in the grade after 11 wins in 15 finals during the six months of the 2020-2021 season.

From Central Hawke’s Bay, King learnt to shear at a young age and as a pupil of Napier Boys High School won the Hawke’s Bay A and P Show’s Great Raihania Shears Secondary Schools Competition in 2014.

But he bypassed the woolshed as he left school, heading instead to Canterbury University for the studies which led him into the job in mechanical design in Christchurch.

It was after the layoff that he joined Rangiora contractor Rowan Nesbit and after less than nine months in the industry he’s more than hooked.

“I’ve got the bug,” he said. “I’d also like to thank Elite Wool Industry Training, I’ve done two courses with them, and I don’t think I’d be here without them.”

He didn’t waste any time getting into action when the competition season started in October, winning 3 national titles in a sequence of four wins to open his competition career before he was first beaten in a final when third in the Southland Shears’ NZ crossbred lamb shearing championship in Winton in January.

The NZ Shears victory was his 5th national Junior title, having claimed a New Zealand Spring Shears crown in the season-opener at Waimate in October, followed by a New Zealand Corriedales title at the Canterbury Shears in November, a longwool title at Lumsden in January, and the Mackenzie Shears New Zealand Lamb Shearing title in Fairlie on Easter Monday.

King finished the final of five sheep each in 8min 18.66sec, more than 40 seconds ahead of the next-quickest and with second best quality points won by more than 3pts from runner-up Keahrey Manson, of Piopio, with Henry Stewart, of Feilding taking third place.

Manson’s mum, Open-class woolhandler Monica Potae, was excited about his result, but excited almost beyond belief by leading the South Island team to a rare inter-island shearing and woolhandling match win in Te Kuiti – where she said the South hadn’t won in 13 years. She teamed with fellow woolhandlers Joel Henare and Pagan Karauria and Southland shearers Nathan Stratford, Leon Samuels and Brett Roberts to beat an equally strong North Island team by 17.2pts

North Island team shearers David Buick, John Kirkpatrick and Rowland Smith bounced back to finish first, second and third in the North Island Shearer of the Year final later in the night, sealing their chance to atone in the next inter-island match at Gore next season.

It was Pongaroa farmer Buick’s biggest win in the North Island, leading all the way and finishing the 10 ewes and 10 lambs in 15min 21.64sec, and with best board-judging points keeping the quality in just the right context to beat runner-up the now 50-year-old Hawke’s Bay shearer Kirkpatrick by just under a point.

Smith’s third place followed 8 wins in the event, including the last 7 from 2013-2019, before last year’s Covid-19 lockdown event cancellation.

Masterton shearer Joseph Gordon, 21, felt sorry for younger brother Adam’s absence from the NZ Shears Intermediate final, but kept it in the family by himself claiming a comfortable win in the event, which had been won by older brother David Gordon in 2013.

Adam Gordon had been the favourite to win the event, having claimed No 1 ranking across the season with 8 wins, but just missed qualifying for the final. Welsh shearer Aled Llyr Evans won the race by 10 seconds from Joseph Gordon who was able to turn the tables with the better quality and win by 3.55pts.

Catherine Mullooly, of Matawai, near Gisborne, returned successfully to the scene of one of her greatest moments when she won the women’s final.

Named the No 1 Intermediate shearer, male or female, on the same stage at the end of the 2013-2014 season she went on to win a Women’s title in England and a Senior final at the Poverty Bay A and P Show, but had competed only sparingly since, returning for the 60th Golden Shears in Masterton last year and taking time out to become a mum.

She was second to finish, shearing the 4 sheep in 8min 18.22sec but had the best quality points and won by more than 2pts from runner-up Laura Bradley, of Woodville.

RESULTS from the second night of the New Zealand Shears shearing and woolhandling championships being held in Te Kuiti on April 8-10, 2021:

Shearing

North Island Shearer of the Year (20 sheep – 10 ewes, 10 lambs): David Buick (Pongaroa) 15min 21.64sec, 53.182pts, 1; John Kirkpatrick (Pakipaki) 15min 57.51sec, 54.026pts, 2; Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 16min 18sec, 55.4pts, 3; Hemi Braddick (Eketahuna) 17min 3.37sec, 58.569pts, 4; Mark Grainger (Te Kuiti) 16min 42.93sec, 59.347pts, 5; Leon Samuels (Invercargill) 16min 4.43sec, 60.972pts, 6.

NZ Shears Intermediate final (8 sheep): Joseph Gordon (Masterton) 10min 47.79sec, 39.515pts, 1; Aled Evans (Wales) 10min 37.9sec, 43.02pts, 2; Gabriel Winders (Winton) 11min 10.53sec, 43.902pts, 3; John Cherrington (Ngaruawahia) 11min 48.15sec, 45.033pts, 4; Topia Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 12min 7.43sec, 46.247pts, 5; Benn Forrester (Rangiora) 11min 57.05sec, 50.603pts, 6.

NZ Shears Junior final (5 sheep): Reuben King (Ongaonga/Rangiora) 8min 18.66sec, 36.733pts, 1; Keahrey Manson (Piopio) 9min 19.36sec, 39.968pts, 2; Henry Stewart (Feilding) 10min 7.42sec, 41.371pts, 3; Timo Hicks (Tapawera) 9min 5.02sec, 41.651pts, 4; Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 9min 42.97sec, 42.349pts, 5; RobEvans (Tikokio) 9min 38.2sec, 42.91pts, 6.

NZ Shears Women’s final (6 sheep): Catherine Mullooly (Matawai) 8min 18.22sec, 35.077pts, 1; Laura Bradley (Woodville) 8min 31.63sec, 37.082pts, 2; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 8min 9.77sec, 38.822pts, 3; Engis Smith (Maraekakaho) 9min 47.31sec, 39.366pts, 4; Emily Te Kapa (Scotland) 9min 26.99sec, 41.017pts, 5; Peggy Sue Tohengaroa (Aria) 10min 28.89sec, 47.778pts, 6.

Inter-island Teams shearing and woolhandling challenge (6 sheep): South Island (shearers – Leon Samuels, Nathan Stratford, Brett Roberts; woolhandlers – Monica Potae, Joel Henare, Pagan Karauria) beat North Island (shearers – Rowland Smith, David Buick, John Kirkpatrick; woolhandlers – Sheree Alabaster, Keryn Herbert, Anita Phillips) 7min 13sec, 236.9pts, by 17.2pts.

Local Contractors (10 sheep): Fagan No 1 (Jack Fagan, James Ruki, Reuben Alabaster) 11min 15.96sec, 42.698pts, 1; Fagan No 2 (-) 11min 10.2sec, 46.21pts, 2; Barrowcliffe 11min 32.83sec, 46.942pts, 3; CT Shearing (-)11min 36.48sec, 51.124pts, 4; Taumata Shearing (-) 12min 21.93sec, 52.697pts, 5; Fagan No 3 (-) 12min 12.81sec, 56.241pts, 6.

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