Champion shearer Rowland Smith achieved the goal he’d set all season when he won an eighth Golden Shears Open shearing title in Masterton.
Capping three days of a fever-pitched return of Golden Shears after two years of pandemic cancellations, and taking a break from driving his tractor in the Hawke’s Bay cyclone recovery, Smith won the right to represent New Zealand at the 2023 Golden Shears World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Scotland on June 22-25, where among the toughest opposition will be his brother, expatriate Kiwi Matt Smith, representing England.
Rowland Smith, who won the World title in 2014 in Ireland and 2017, claimed his eighth Golden Shears by more than three points from runner-up and Marlborough shearer Angus Moore, despite being only third off the board after a classic race for time honours on stand 1, 2, and 3.
Moore, in the Open final for the first time, but having earlier in the night won the multi-breed PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit final for a third time, bolted into the lead on the second sheep, and remained in front until the eighth when Masterton shearer Paerata Abraham hit the front and, shearing at a consistent pace of a little over 40 seconds a sheep, stayed there till the end, finishing in 15min 43.88sec.
It revived memories of Abraham’s only previous Golden Shears Open final, when he cleared the 20 sheep in 15min 50.234sec in 2016.
The fastest time final of all was when David Fagan shore 15min 27.4sec in 2003 with John Kirkpatrick second off the board in 15min 43.8sec, when they were ultimately winner and runner-up respectively.
Third place went to near-perennial beaten finalist and Invercargill shear Nathan Stratford, despite being last to finish, in 16min 57.959sec.
Fourth was first-time finalist Hemi Braddick of Eketāhuna, Abraham was fifth and four-times winner Kirkpatrick was sixth.
Joel Henare, from Gisborne but living with his three children in Motueka, justified hot TAB favouritism to win a ninth-consecutive Golden Shears Open woolhandling title a wide margin from runner-up Keryn Herbert, of Te Kuiti.
Henare was unavailable for World championships selection, leaving what became one of the closet finals ever in a woolhandling final as four others fought out a team selection final.
The two positions were claimed by Candi Hiri of Gore and Ngaio Hanson of Eketāhuna, with less than a point covering the first three places, just cutting Foonie Waihape of Alexandra out of the trip to Edinburgh.
Hanson’s performance was one of three putting both Eketāhuna and her family on the map. She’s the sister of Open shearing finalist Hemi Braddick and Open woolhandling third-place-getter Ana Braddick.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand shearing team of southern trio Stratford, Stacy Te Huia and Leon Samuels staged an amazing comeback to win a trans-Tasman shearing test against Australian visitors Daniel McIntyre, Nathan Meaney and Sam Mackrill.
The black singlets had been given a sound beating in the season’s first test in Bendigo, Vic, in November, but sprung the surprises by being in charge over the six merinos each that comprised the first half of the contest, followed by the New Zealand breed fullwools and second-shears.
The TAB had favoured the Australians, but it became payback also for the previous night’s surprise win over NZ in a woolhandling test.
Among lower grade triumphs, 21-year-old Abby Curnow of Bendigo, Vic, is the new Junior woohandling champion, becoming the first Australian to win a Golden Shears woolhandling title in the 38 years since woolhandling was added to the Shears’ ribbon parade in 1985.
It also made it a double of the Junior titles for Australia, after 18-year-old Tyron Cochrane, of Goodooga, New South Wales, won the Junior shearing title, the first Australian to win a NZ Golden Shears title since John Allan’s Intermediate victory at the Golden Shears’ inception in 1961.
The Senior woolhandling title was won by Rahera Kerr, of Hauturu, the Senior shearing final was won by Clay Harris, of Piopio, and the Intermediate shearing final was won by Will Sinclair, of Balclutha, both backed by recent winning form.
In the woolpressing, Masterton’s Goodger brothers again battled for men’s singles title, with Jeremy scoring a 14th win, claiming the title back from brother Vinnie, winner four times in a row from 2017 to 2020.
The women’s title was won for the first time by Savannah King, of Eketāhuna, beating eight-times winner Fiona Healy in the final.