Southern Blast Rolls Some Big Guns At Te Kuiti Shears
Central Otago woolhandler Pagan Karauria capped possibly the south’s greatest raid on a shearing championships in the North Island when she won the New Zealand Open woolhandling title in Te Kuiti last night(Saturday).
Her first win in the event came soon after Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels completed a double in the country’s two major series’ finals within just a few hours.
A special feature of the wins was the display of camaraderie which remained among winners and rivals, often seen as a unique quality of shearing sports competitions throughout the country.
King Country woolhandler Keryn Herbert has reached the final seven times, has never won, and was this year eliminated in the semi-finals, but with a congratulatory hug was as ecstatic over the result as the victor.
Despite being from such distant parts, the pair often travel together to competitions, and of Karauria’s win,
Herbert said: “It’s awesome.”
Karauria was ready to party but, having taken over part of the shearing run of father and former champion shearer Dion Morrell had more travel to look forward to: Back to Alexandra on Sunday and then off to Northland “to cook for my workers.”
Samuels’ put his emergence down to the skills, help and support passed on to him by one of his main rivals on the board, fellow Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford, a former winner of both circuits, and who was fifth as Samuels won the National All-Breeds Circuit in the afternoon and fourth when Samuels added the Zealand Shears Circuit title to the kit in the evening.
It started top bear fruit 14 months ago when he won the Otago open final, and took another step at the Aria Waitangi Day sports two months ago when he became the first South Island shearer to win a crossbred final in the North Island in more than about 10 years.
The wins on Saturday were among a bag of nine triumphs for a southern wave revelling in the opportunities in the last hurrah of a season hit by 16 Covid-alert competition cancellations, including that of premier event the Golden Shears.
Karauria and Samuels were both part of a South Island team which on Friday night had its first inter-island shearing and woolhandling match win in the North Island in 13 years, and on the same night Karauria was named No 1-ranked Open woolhandler for the season for the first time.
Additionally Rangiora-based Reuben King on Friday won the New Zealand Shears Junior shearing final and with 11 wins in his first season was also ranked No 1 in his grade. On Saturday he and Ashburton shearer Chase Rattray won a Intermediate and Junior grades development match between teams from a North Canterbury circuit and two New Zealand Shears selections.
The other southern triumph was that of Waikaka shearer Braydon Clifford, named No 1-ranked Senior shearer for the season, although he missed out on a place in the NZ Shears Senior final.
Taking some back for the north were Open shearers Rowland Smith, of Maraekakaho, and David Buick, of Pongaroa. Smith won the six-man NZ Shears Open final for an eighth time, and a fifth in a row, and Buick on Friday won the North Island Shearer of the Year title, the pair, along with Samuels, shutting-out Hawke’s Bay shearer John Kirkpatrick who, at the age of 50, was runner-up in the Open, NZ Shears and NI Shearer of the Year finals, and third in the All-Breeds final.
Eketahuna shearer Paora Moanaroa won the Senior shearing final on Saturday night, to give Wairarapa a third shearing win for the week after Buick’s win on Friday night, when the Intermediate shearing final was won by Joseph Gordon, of Masterton.
Adding to Wairarapa’s role in the championships was the recognition of Gordon’s younger brother, Adam Gordon, as the No 1-ranked Intermediate based on all performances during the season.
Former Masterton woolhandler Azuredee Paku was part of a King Country domination of the opening day on Thursday, when Herbert won a North Island Circuit final, and senior-grader Paku scored a NZ Shears title and No 1 ranking double, which was repeated by workmate Rahera Kerr in the Junior grade. Completing the home competition area’s successes was teenager Sean Fagan’s Novice shearing win on Friday.
Matawai shearer Catherine Mullooly won the Women’s final on Friday.
The season-ending New Zealand Shears attracted 217 shearers and woolhandlers, which president Claire Grainger said was the biggest entry for many years.