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Toa Henderson: Northland Shearing Gun In The Fast Lane

Northland shearer Toa Henderson again spread-eagled the opposition to shear a 20-sheep final in under 16 minutes for the third time in a week when he won the North Island Open Shearing Championship final at the 60th Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton on Saturday.

In each of the second-shear finals the Kaiwaka gun was the only shearer to go under 16 minutes, and on Saturday put a sheep around all five other finalists.

He finished in 15min 38.89sec - 45 seconds clear of next-man-off Jimmy Samuels, of Marton - keeping the quality together enough to win by 1.483pts from Mr Quality, Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford, who was third-off another nine seconds later.

Third place went to Gisborne shearer Tama Niania, fourth was Samuels’ brother, Leon Samuels, of Roxburgh, fifth was Southern Hawke’s Bay farmer and shearer and former World and Golden Shears champion Gavin Mutch, and Jimmy Samuels, with quality unable to match the pace, was sixth.

A week earlier Henderson sheared 20 sheep in 15min 23sec in winning the Taihape Shearing Sports Open title, and on Friday he sheared 20 in 15min 40sec at the Dannevirke A and P Shears, but had to settle for second place overall behind Golden Shears champion Rowland Smith, a former Northland shearer based in Hawke’s Bay.

Smith was not at Marton, resisting the chance of winning the event for a 7th time in a row, and a 10th time in the 11 contests since 2012.

Rather than head straight back north, and in the spirit of shearing industry camaraderie, Henderson headed for Southern Hawke’s Bay to shear in the woolshed with leading rival and former World and Golden Shears champion Gavin Mutch, who had battled for the pace much of the way in all three of the week’s finals.

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Henderson then heads for the Aria Waitangi Day Sports Shears in King Country on Tuesday, and flies south to defend the Otago Shears Open title at Te Houka, about 10km from Balclutha and the traditional start of a four-week run to the Golden Shears in Masterton on February 29-March 2.

Henderson, who has had 23 Open wins in the last six seasons, is looming among the Golden Shears Open favourites, despite having not yet shorn in its 20-sheep final, for which the fastest time was the 15min 27sec shorn by David Fagan in 2003.

Meanwhile, Eketahuna woolhandler Ana Braddick ended a near 10-seasons wait for victory, since graduating as No 1-ranked Senior woolhandler nationwide in 2014-2015, by winning the North Island Open Woolhandling Championship final.

Third in the Golden Shears Open final last March, and runner-up in 2019, she picked the right place to do it – she was the seventh different winner of the Rangitikei title in seven years, a list which includes Masterton sisters Cushla Abraham and Samantha Gordon, whose first Open wins were also in the event, in 2015 and 2021 respectively, and who on Saturday were second and fourth respectively.

Third was Marton’s Logan Kamura, who won in 2017, fifth was Braddick’s sister, Ngaio Hanson, a 2023 New Zealand World Championships representative still without a win in 13 seasons of Open competition, and sixth was 2019 Rangitikei winner and Te Kuiti woolhandler Keryn Herbert, who won at Taihape last week and Dannevirke on Friday.

Laura Bradley, of Papatawa, between Woodville and Dannevirke, loomed further as a possible first female Golden Shears Senior champion by being the first woman to win the Rangitikei Senior final.

With a comfortable victory, by more than three points from runner-up Callum Bosley, from England, it was her third win of the season, but missing was Gisborne shearer Te Ua Wilcox, to whom she’d been runner-up twice in the last week.

The final of 10 sheep, in which she was first to finish, in 11min 17.45sec, was also memorable for having two women among the six finalists, with first-time finalist Nicki Guttler, from New South Wales claiming sixth place.

The Intermediate shearing final provided a first win in the grade for Heath Barnsdall, of Piopio, winning by a point from Dannevirke winner Damielle Mauger, from West Australia. Napier shearer Kaivah Cooper, returned to winning form in the Junior grade, after being beaten three times in finals in the New Year following six wins before Christmas, and Ashlin Swann, of Wairoa, scored her second Novice win in a week.

The Senior woolhandling final was won by local and 2018 Junior winner Cortez Ostler, the new Junior champion is Makayla Neal, of Piopio, and Caitlin Mitchell, of Eudunda, South Australia, won the Novice woolhandling.

Organising committee chairman Jacob Moore was astounded with the entries, believed to be a record for the Rangitikei Shearing Sports, with 224 entries, almost 50 more than the 176 last year and comprising 153 shearers and 71 woolhandlers.

He said it wouldn’t have been possible without the farmers supplying the sheep, and about 80 mainly-local sponsors, including Kairanga Knitting Mills, which ensured all the competitors were supplied with woollen singlets. He said the budget for running the championships was over $40,000.

RESULTS of the 60th anniversary Rangitikei Shearing Sports shearing and woolhandling championships at Marton on Saturday, February 3, 2024:

Shearing:

Open final (20 sheep): Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 15min 38.89sec, 55.745pts, 1; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 16min 32.55sec, 57.228pts, 2; Tama Niania (Gisborne) 17min 8.2sec, 59.71pts, 3; Leon Samuels (Invercargill/Roxburgh) 16min 47.6sec, 60.03pts, 4; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Dannevirke) 16min 37.83sec, 61.692pts, 5; Jimmy Samuels (Marton) 16min 23.33sec, 62.517pts, 6.

Senior final (10 sheep): Laura Bradley (Papatawa) 11min 17.45sec, 41.473pts, 1; Callum Bosley (Cornwall, England) 12min 11.88sec, 44.894pts, 2; Bruce Grace (Wairoa/Napier) 11min 48.04sec, 44.902pts, 3; Alex Butler (Ballyvoy, Northern Ireland) 12min 35.77sec, 48.889pts, 4; Mark Ferguson (Elsthorpe) 12min 50.27sec, 49.114pts, 5; Nicki Guttler (Lockhart, NSW) 13min 30.64sec, 50.932pts, 6.

Intermediate final (5 sheep): Heath Barnsdall (Piopio) 6min 54.79sec, 29.54pts, 1; Danielle Mauger (Mullalyup, West Australia) 7min 22.42sec, 30.521pts, 2; Tini Papanui (Feilding) 7min 8.89sec, 31.895pts, 3; Blake Mitchell (Patea) 6min 20.24sec, 34.012pts, 4; Pat Corrigan (Curragh, Ireland) 7min 22.47sec, 36.124pts, 5; Michael Buick (Pongaroa) 8min 32.45sec, 39.023pts, 6.

Junior final (5 sheep): Kaivah Cooper (Napier) 7min 35.82sec, 31.791pts, 1; Orlando Ratima (Hunterville) 8min 1.36sec, 33.468pts, 2; Paddy Dunne (Wicklow, Ireland) 7min 1.93sec, 34.297pts, 3; Maliek Mullins (Taihape) 6min 57.59sec, 34.48pts, 4; Marshall Buckman (Apiti) 7min 52.68sec, 34.634pts, 5; Lachie Cameron (Pohangina) 8min 57.77sec, 38.489pts, 6.

Novice final (1 sheep): Ashlin Swann (Wairoa) 3min 26.51sec, 19.326pts, 1; Kevin Noone (Donegal, Ireland) 3min 15.09sec, 19.755pts, 2; Hunter Wigglesworth (Marton) 4min 7.38sec, 20.369pts, 3; Abbey Grant (Turakina) 4min 52.09sec, 21.605pts, 4; Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 4min 6.34sec, 25.317pts, 5; Waiari Puna (Napier) 3min 34.57sec, 26.729pts, 6.

Woolhandling:+

Open final: Ana Braddick (Eketahuna) 51.53pts, 1; Cushla Abraham (Masterton) 54.81pts, 2; Logan Kamura (Marton) 55.81pts, 3; Samantha Gordon (Masterton) 56.81pts, 4; Ngaio Hanson (Eketahuna) 58.69pts, 5; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 59.05pts, 6.

Senior final: Cortez Ostler (Marton) 44.72pts, 1; Whakapunake (Naki) Maraki (Flaxmere) 45.5pts, 2; Ashleigh Ostler (Marton) 55.6pts, 3; Rahera Kerr (Hauturu) 56.75pts, 4; Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui) 57.5pts, 5; Amy Bell (Dannevirke) 68.96pts, 6.

Junior final: Makayla Neil (Piopio) 52.07pts, 1; Chloe Henderson (Hunterville) 56.6pts, 2; Mere Maraki (Flaxmere) 59.9pts, 3; Capree Wallace (Taihape) 66.28pts, 4; Kaivah Cooper (Napier) 68.15pts, 5; Kalyah Ferguson (Otane) 85.19pts, 6.

Novice final: Caitlin Mitchell (Eudunda, South Australia) 59.01pts, 1; Corey Salmond (Dunedin) 2, Ngaire Karaka (Turakina) 66.5pts, 3; Zamal Koptha (Hastings) 70.91pts, 4; Ela Herbert (Wales) 76.62pts, 5; Sophie Humphrey (Pahiatua) 77.2pts, 6.

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