The National Shearing Circuit is a prestigious competition celebrating excellence in the skill of shearing. PGG Wrightson has sponsored the National Shearing Circuit for the past 18 years, and has recently renewed its sponsorship for the next three years.
Established in 1973 the circuit is approaching its fiftieth anniversary. Continuing its relationship with the event that began in 2003, under the current arrangement PGG Wrightson is co-sponsoring with animal health product manufacturer Nexan, meaning the event will be titled the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit.
Shearers compete for points over five rounds, starting in Alexandra in October with the fine wool section; moving to full wool hoggets in Waimate; Corriedales in Christchurch in November; lambs in Rangitikei on Waitangi Day; and concluding in Pahiatua later in February with second shears.
Based on points earned through those five rounds, the circuit final is fought out in Masterton by the top 12 shearers on the eve of the Golden Shears.
|Alexandra||1-2 October 2021||NZ Merino Shearing Championships||Merino|
|Waimate||8-9 October 2021||NZ Spring Shears||Romney Full Wool|
|Christchurch||11-12 November 2021||NZ Corriedale Shearing/Woolhandling Championships
Hosted by the NZ Agricultural Show
|Marton||5 February 2022||Rangitikei Shears||Romney Lambs|
|Pahiatua||27 February 2022||Pahiatua Shears||Romney Second Shear|
|Masterton||3-5 March 2022||Golden Shears (Semi-Final and Final)||Multi Breeds|
The mighty southern men of shearing stepped-up yet again to take the first three placings in the New Zealand Spring Shears Open crossbred fullwool shearing championship final in Waimate on Saturday.
The six-man final over 16 sheep each was won by Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels, beating surprise runner-up Casey Bailey, of Riverton, by less than seven-tenths of a point, with almost a point back to third placegetter, Invercargill shearer and 10-times event winner Nathan Stratford, who a week earlier in Alexandra won the season-opening New Zealand Merino Shears Open title for a fifth time. Waikaka shearer Braydon Clifford added to the success by winning the Senior final, while on the opening day of the championships on Friday former Invercargill shearer Troy Pyper, now based in North Canterbury, successfully defended the New Zealand Winter-comb title on Merinos.
It wasn’t just the blokes flying the flag for the south. Former Golden Shears Senior woolhandling champion Amber Poihipi, of Ohai, also in Southland, claimed a double triumph with wins in Spring Shears and South Island Woolhandling Circuit Senior finals on Friday, confirming she will graduate to Open class by next season.
It was Pyper who made the pace in Saturday’s Spring Shears Open shearing final, in which he was the only shearer to average under a minute a sheep and finished in 15min 39.15sec.
Samuels was next 35 seconds later but was able to pull-back the time-points deficit with the best points for the board job, and third-best in the pens.
It was his first win in the event in which he was third in both 2019 and 2020, and maintained the form which produced wins in both national all-breeds circuit finals in Te Kuiti last April. It was a disaster first South Island final for Gisborne shearer Tama Nia. Nia who was making good progress midway through the showdown when a sheep kicked the handpiece into his face, causing a cut requiring several stitches and forcing his withdrawal from the race.
The heats on Saturday constituted the second round of the new season’s PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit in which both Stratford and Samuels are near certain finals qualifiers after just two of the five qualifying rounds. Fairlie’s Tony Dobbs won the Open Bladeshearing title, returning to the stage where he last year reached the unprecedented milestone of 100 bladeshearing winslast year he completed a century of wins. There was a big upset in the Senior winter-comb final on Friday, with winner Russell Ratima, from Aria in the central North Island, and Alex Clapham, from Yorkshire, England, having almost no competition history in New Zealand between them. Ratima had failed to make it past the Senior heats in Alexandra the previous weekend but won on Friday by a wide margin of more than 12pts. He and Clapham graduated from the bottom half of the 12 semi-final qualifiers at Waimate and were the last two into the six-man final amid the exit of Alexandra winner Scott Cameron, who had been the top qualifier in the heats.
In New Zealand about two years ago and living in Roxburgh, Clapham confirmed it had been his first competition downunder and described it as part of “living the dream out here in New Zealand.”
Masterton’s Matene Mason won the Open Novice shearing final, for Open-class shearers who have otherwise not won an Open title, North Canterbury shearer 2020-2021 No-1 ranked junior Reuben King won his first Intermediate shear title, and the Junior final was won by Jack Pringle, of Balclutha.
Joel Henare, of Gisborne, added the Open woolhandling title to that he won at Alexandra a week earlier, while Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, won the South Island Open woolhandling circuit final.
Maraea Iwikau, of Taumarunui, won the Spring Shears Junior woolhandling title, and the junior circuit fibal was won by Emma Martin, of Gore.
It was a busy two days, with 150 competitors and 18 events decided in the conditions of the Covid-19 Delta Alert.
Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford completing a double at the New Zealand Merino Shears on Saturday, winning the Open final after PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit first-round points-toppimg effort in the heats. Photo / Barbara Newton
Former winners set pace in shearing circuit's 50th year
Three former winners of the national all-breeds shearing championship have got their new season under way successfully with top 10 placings in the first round in Alexandra on Saturday.
Now known as the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit, the competition comprises five preliminary events, each on different types of wool, with the top 12 overall, based on points for heats placings at each venue, qualifying for the finals at the 2022 Golden Shears.
It is the series’ 50th season, incorporating the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown, presented for the first time in a three-round series in 1972-1973 in memory of Central Otago merino shearing legend Fred McSkimming.
Also in the 20th season linked to lead sponsor PGG Wrightson, it now comprises founding show the New Zealand Merino Shears (the finewool leg in Alexandra), the crossbred longwool of the Waimate Shears this week, the corriedales of the Canterbury Shears next month, and in February lambs at the Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton and second-shear at the Pahiatua Shears.
Preceded by semi-finals, the six-man showdown for the title will be a straight shear over the five wool types on the last day of the March 3-5 Golden Shears in Masterton, where the final has been held in every year except last season when the 11th-hour pandemic alert cancellation of the Pahiatua Shears and the Golden Shears led to the final being held at the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti.
Setting the pace this season, as has been regular in the early stages, is 2014 winner Nathan Stratford who claimed the maximum 12points in the opening round, placing third in the Merino Shears Open heats behind Central Otago non-series shearers Stacey Te Huia and Jocky O’Neill. Stratford went on to win the Merino final for a fifth time.
Masterton shearer and 2019 circuit winner Paerata Abraham claimed 6th-place points, and Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels, who won the 2021 final in Te Kuiti, claimed 9th-place points.
Scottish shearer, 2012 World Champion and 2015 Golden Shears winner Gavin Mutch, based in New Zealand for two decades, had to withdraw from both the Merino Shears and the circuit because of a shoulder injury.
With the Merino Shears a compulsory event, Phil Wedd, of Silverdale, was granted an exemption from competing in Alexandra because of the Covid-19 Delta lockdown in Auckland which prevented him from travelling south, and was awarded the standard starter's point.
Leading Points in the 2021-2022 PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit after the first round at the New Zealand Merino Shears in Alexandra on Saturday: Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 12, Troy Pyper (Cheviot) 11, Ethan Pankhurst (Masterton) 10, Alex Smith (Rakaia) 9, Brett Roberts (Mataura) 8, Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 7, David Gordon (Masterton) 6, Leon Samuels (Invercargill) 5, Jimmy Samuels (Marton) 4, Aaron Haynes (Feilding) 3, Lionel Taumata (Gore) 2.
The following each have 1 point: Casey Bailey (Riverton), Hemi Braddick (Eketahuna), Hugh De Lacy (Rangiora), Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti), Beau Guelfi (Gisborne), Duncan Higgins (Blenheim), Paul Hodges (Geraldine), Willy McSkimming (Oamaru), Matene Mason (Masterton), Ringakaha Paewai (Gore), James Ruki (Te Kuiti) and Phil Wedd (Silverdale).
Shearing Sports New Zealand
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Waimate Shears’ New Zealand Spring Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at Waimate on Saturday on October 8-9, 2021
Open final (16 sheep): Leon Samuels (Invercargill) 16min 15.1sec, 56.3175pts, 1; Casey Bailey (Riverton) 16min 48.94sec, 57.0095pts, 2; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 17min 12.6sec, 58.005pts, 3; Troy Pyper (Invercargill) 15min 39.15sec, 58.395pts, 4; Hugh De Lacy (Parnassus) 16min 20.5sec, 66.2125pts, 5; Tama Niania (Gisborne) 6.
Open Novice (10 sheep): Matene Mason (Masterton) 11min 55.04sec, 40.252pts, 1; Lionel Taumata (Gore) 12min 17.57sec, 41.0785pts, 2; David Gordon (Masterton) 10min 14.42sec, 41.521pts, 3; Jimmy Samuels (Marton) 9min 25.03sec, 42.6515pts, 4; Corey Smith (Waimate) 11min 37.09sec, 48.5545pts, 5; Alex Smith (Rakaia) 14min 56.19sec, 48.9095pts, 6.
Senior final (8 sheep): Braydon Clifford (Waikaka) 10min 37.09sec, 38.2295pts, 1; Taare Edwards (Ashburton) 12min 3.72sec, 42.436pts, 2; Tyson Crown (Mataura) 11min 47.62sec, 43.131pts, 3; Josef Winders (Rotorua) 10min 36.27sec, 43.8135pts, 4; Chris Malcolm (Winton) 11min 24.32sec, 44.716pts, 5; Jason White (Waimate) 12min 28.43sec, 46.1715pts, 6.
Intermediate final (5 sheep): Reuben King (Rangiora) 9min 12.71sec, 36.6355pts, 1; Blake Crooks (Timaru) 9min 4.97sec, 37.4485pts, 2; Chase Rattray (Ashburton) 9min 39.66sec, 40.783pts, 3; Jordan White (Balclutha) 9min 7.73sec, 43.7865pts, 4; James Wilson (Winton) 8min 20.26sec, 44.413pts, 5; Tes Paewai (Wales) 9min 39.19sec, 47.3595pts, 6.
Junior final (3 sheep): Jack Pringle (Balclutha) 6min 41.97sec, 26.4318pts, 1; Josh Devane (Taihape) 6min 38.78sec, 26.6057pts, 2; Lachie Crafar (Rangiwahia) 8min 0.16sec, 31.31453pts, 3; Mark Calder (Balclutha) 6min 37.5sec, 32.5417pts, 4; Emma Martin (Gore) 8min 38.67sec, 39.6002pts, 5; Tyrell Rakete-Miller (Invercargill) 6min 25.25sec, 49.2625pts, 6.
Novice (1 sheep): Molly Clayton (Waimate) 4min 17.85sec, 23.879pts, 1; Jess-Rose Toa (Ashburton) 5min 17.7sec, 39.885pts, 2; Dre Roberts (Mataura) 4min 3.62sec, 41.181pts, 3; Toni Ditmer (Rangiora) 5min 20.06sec, 57.003pts, 4; Shorty (Gisborne) 3min 27.34sec, 80.367pts, 5.
Women (2 sheep): Sarah Hewson (Blenheim) 3min 46.97sec, 17.3485pts, 1; Tes Paewai (Wales) 3min 52.59sec, 19.1295pts, 2; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 4min 1.78sec, 21.089pts, 3; Emily Te Kapa (Scotland) 4min 18.79sec, 24.9395pts, 4; Jills Angus Burney (Masterton) 3min 37.41sec, 25.8705pts, 5; Emma Martin (Gore) 6min 26sec, 53.55pts, 6.
Open blades (4 sheep): Tony Dobbs (Fairlie) 13min 52.65sec, 51.6325pts, 1; Phil Oldfield (Geraldine) 15min 54.94sec, 57.747pts, 2; Noel Handley (Rangiora) 12min 5.6sec, 58.28pts, 3; Allan
Butcher (Waimate) 17min 55.45sec, 69.5225pts, 4; Jordan White (Balclutha) 18min 31.94sec, 82.597pts, 5.
Intermediate blades (2 sheep): Aku Waihape (Pleasant Point) 8min 45.31sec, 43.7655pts, 1; Wendy Parsons (-) 8min 57.13sec, 51.3565pts, 2; Shaun Burgess (Rakaia) 12min 19.67sec, 58.4835pts, 3; Evelyn McGregor-Koch (Glenorchy) 11min 34.93sec, 63.2465pts, 4; Jills Angus Burney (Masterton) 14min 27.01sec, 64.8505pts, 5; Ruby Stone (Waimate) 12min 6.65sec, 71.3325pts, 6.
Women’s Invitation Blades: Wendy Parsons (-) 4min 19.37sec, 33.9685pts, 1; Jills Angus Burney (Masterton) 8min 13.75sec, 54.6875pts, 2; Evelyn McGregor-Koch (Glenorchy) 5min 44.13sec, 71.2065pts, 3; Ruby Stone (Waimate) 5min 5.55sec, 72.2775pts, 4.
New Zealand Winter Comb Shearing Championships:
Open final (10 sheep): Troy Pyper (Cheviot) 19min 13.78sec, 75.589pts, 1; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 21min 19.11sec, 76.6555pts, 2; Stacey Te Huia (Alexandra) 19min 42sec, 80.5pts, 3; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 20min 55.34sec, 85.867pts, 4; Jocky O’Neill (Alexandra) 21min 21.39sec, 91.7695pts, 5; Ant Frew (Pleasant Point) 21min 17.87sec, 97.0935pts, 6.
Senior final (5 sheep): Russell Ratima (Aria) 12min 54.21sec, 67.1105pts, 1; Alex Clapham (Yorkshire, England) 15min 15.77sec, 79.7885pts, 2; Hohepa Te Rata-Taituha (Taumarunui) 11min 55.49sec, 85.5745pts, 3; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 16min 34.57sec, 87.9285pts, 4; Taare Edwards (Ashburton) 14min 26.46sec, 90.323pts, 5; Tyson Crown (Mataura) 15min 22.31sec, 107.3155pts, 6.
Open final: Joel Henare (Gisborne) 92.70pts, 1; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 124.14pts, 2; Tia Potae (Milton) 126.07pts, 3; Cheri Peterson (Milton) 146.412pts, 4.
Senior final: Amber Poihipi (Ohai) 98.57pts, 1; Heaven Little (Alexandra) 113.764pts, 2; Charlotte Stuart (Omarama) 125.3pts, 3; Destiny Paikea (Heriot) 147.66pts, 4.
Junior final: Maraea Iwikau (Taumarunui) 95.99pts, 1; Tatuana Keefe (Raupunga) 117.06pts, 2; Lea Brabant (Germany) 132.69pts, 3; Jess-Rose Toa (Ashburton) 143.19pts, 4.
South Island Woolhandling Circuit:
Open final: Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 40.314pts, 1; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 67.218pts, 2; Cany Hiri (Mataura) 72.988pts, 3; Kelly McDonald (Lake Hawea) 88.828pts, 4.
Senior final: Amber Poihipi (Ohai) 60.402pts, 1; Sarah Davis (Rerewhakaaitu) 62.494pts, 2; Heaven Little (Alexandra) 80.034pts, 3.
Junior final: Emma Martin (Gore) 70.294pts, 1; Charis Morrell (Alexandra) 70.85pts, 2; Brittany Kellet (Ashburton) 76.944pts, 3; Ani Mason (Prebbleton) 90.72pts, 4.
Former World champions Nathan Stratford and Joel Henare have won the two major titles at the first event of the new shearing sports season. Stratford, from Invercargill, claimed the New Zealand Merino Shears Open shearing title for a fifth time, and Henare, from Gisborne, won the Open woolhandling final for fourth time. The 60th championships were held in Alexandra on Friday and Saturday, with two shearing and four woolhandling titles at stake, and more than 120 competitors present, but without any public admission as organisers made sure the event went ahead with strict compliance with the pandemic Covid 2 rules.
Happy anniversary as Stratford nails Merino title
Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford didn’t reckon it was one of his best shears, but it must have been one of the more monumental achievements when he won a fifth national finewool championship on Saturday.
Opening his 25th season of Open-class shearing in a sport renowned for results often decided by fractions, it was effectively a 20-points-plus reversal as Stratford’s trademark quality turned a 13pts time-points deficit into victory by 8.4477pts in the 60th New Zealand Merino Shears Open final in the near-empty Molyneaux Stadium in Central Otago town Alexandra.
Previously the winner in 2006, 2009, 2016 and 2018, Stratford’s winning margin over runner-up Ringakaha Paewai, of Gore, was the biggest in the last 30 years apart from 8-times victor and Western Australian finewool legend Damien Boyle’s triumphs in 2013, 2014 and 2017. Six times in the three decades it had been less than a point.
With pandemic limitations in place, including no public attendance and other Level 2 precaution, Boyle was unable to make what has been an annual trip to Alexandra for most of the last 20 years.
To Stratford victory looked anything but likely as he was third to finish Saturday’s six-man final of 12 sheep each – almost four-and-a-half minutes after Cheviot-based former Southland shearer Troy Pyper was first off in 21min 33.35sec, more than a sheep ahead of everyone else in the showdown.
“I felt I hadn’t done enough,” Stratford, unaware of the penalties stacking-up against Pyper, who, two stands down the board, was looking good till things started turning to disaster, including incurring a “maxi” stroke against him on about the fifth sheep.
Winner of more than 30 finals and twice top New Zealander and runner-up in Boyle’s dominance of the Alexandra title, Pyper reckoned he started getting too excited, and “a bit rough”, and that Stratford shore well and deserved the win, while Pyper had to settle for third place overall.
Fourth was Jocky O’Neill, of Alexandra, fifth went to merino-shearing World record-holdingr North Island shearer Stacey Te Huia, now settled in Central Otago, and sixth was 2000 and 2005 winner Grant Smith, of Rakaia.
Stratford, working for O’Neill Shearing in Alexandra and otherwise based with Southland contractors Emma and Adam Rabbidge, said it was “special” to win on an anniversary such as the 60th Merino Shears.
The championships also started the 50th season of the national All Breeds Championship, which started at Alexandra in 1972 with the first leg of what was introduced as the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown.
Now known as the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit, it comprises qualifying rounds on five wool types at five venues, plus finals at the Golden Shears.
The next round is on the long strongwool of the New Zealand Spring Shears in Waimate next Friday and Saturday, where the national Winter Comb title, on Merinos, is also at stake.
Te Huia, Stratford, Pyper and Masterton shearer Ethan Pankhurst got the best starts in the series with the top four points-scoring places in Saturday’s heats.
The Senior final on Saturday was won by Alexandra shearer Simon Cameron, also relying on quality to beat speed. In a final of four sheep each his time of 15min 25.4sec was more than four minutes slower than the first three to finish, an impost of more than 12pts which his vastly superior quality turned into a win by more than 3pts over runner-up Haare Edwards, of Ashburton.
Henare makes the trip and wins woolhandling final
A trip from Gisborne proved well worthwhile for former World champion Joel Henare who opened his season by regaining the New Zealand Merino Shears Open woolhandling title on the first day in Alexandra on Friday, despite having hardly worked on finewool in the last two years.
With more than 120 finals wins over the last 16 years, including multiple World, Golden Shears and New Zealand championships, Henare had to pull out his best shot to beat defending champion and Alexandra hope and eventual runner-up Pagan Karauria to win New Zealand’s only Open finewool woolhandling title for a fourth time.
Karauria dominated through the preliminary stages as top qualifier in the heats and the semi-finals, but had to settle for second place in her bid for three in a row, having won in 2018 and 2019, with the traditional Shearing Sports New Zealand season-opener being cancelled in 2020 because of the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Milton’s Tia Potae, now working mainly outside the industry, was third, and fourth was Ratapu Moore, of Seddon.
Henare had won in each of his World championship years, his individual and teams titles of 2012 and 2017 in New Zealand and the less-successful Ireland championships in 2014.
Intent on honouring show committee chairman Greg Stuart and his team for the effort in planning and staging the anniversary competition amid the pandemic limitations, Henare left Gisborne on Monday.
He drove 1400km to arrive in Alexandra in time to help train other woolhandlers at an Elite Shearing and Woolhandling Training course on Thursday, did stadium commentaries on Friday as well as compete, and will go through it all again at Waimate this week.
“Pagan was tough to beat,” he said. “She’s on another level in the fine wool world. If the heats and semis were anything to go off, Pagan had won the final prior to it happening.
“I went into the final with a relaxed mind set and also was getting tired, but, lucky for me, I was able to get my eye in for the fleeces and what to remove, just lucky experience helped me through, and really a good support team there for me.”
“I was really happy just to make the final,” he said. “Anything after that was a bonus.”
The Senior woolhandling title was won by Jasmin Tipoki, from Wairarapa but based in Hawke’s Bay, the Junior champion was first-time winner Stoneigh Waihape, of Gore, and the Novice event was won by Anahera Cannell, from Gisborne.
The Shears attracted more than 120 competitors, with 38 in the Open shearing, 20 in the Senior, and 70 entries across the four woolhandling grades, with 22 in the Open, 18 seniors, 23 juniors and 7 novices.