A vehicle up for grabs in New Zealand’s top all-breeds shearing competition could be clocking-up the kilometres big-time if early-season form is maintained through to its final at the 2022 Golden Shears.
Heading the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit leaderboard is Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford, with maximum points from the first two rounds as 23 shearers chase the ultimate prize, including a year’s lease of a four-wheel-drive Hyundai Santa Fe.
The 24 points, from the Open heats at the New Zealand Merino Shears at Alexandra on October 2 and the Waimate Shears last Saturday, he’s already secured enough for a place in the five-round series’ top 12, who will shear in the semi-finals on March 5, after a place in the six-man final a few hours later.
Leading the series through the opening rounds is not an uncommon position for the Southlander, but despite having shorn in 17 of the circuit’s 49 finals dating back to millennium year 2000, he has won the title just once – in 2014.
He was runner-up in 2019 and 2020, and third in 2001, 2012, 2015 and 2017, and has been the master performer on the merino finewool, with five wins in the Alexandra event, and the crossbred longwool with 10 wins at Waimate.
The series continues with the corriedale round at the Canterbury Shears in Christchurch on November 12, the lambshear at the Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton on February 5 and the second-shear of the Pahiatua Shears on February.
All five types will be shorn in what will be the 50th final of a series founded as the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown in 1972-1973.
Stratford is one of three former winners in the 2021-2022 series and in the current top 12.
Fellow Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels, who won last season’s held in Te Kuiti after the cancellation of the Golden Shears, climbed to third place with second-best points in Waimate, before winning the show’s final, and 2019 winner Paerata Abraham, of Masterton, is in 10th place.
The series final has been the South Island’s most successful of the shearing events at the Golden Shears, with 23 wins since Colin Gibson, of Oamaru, won in 1977.
It was the first of five consecutive southern triumphs, being followed by South Canterbury shearers Adrian Cox and Kevin Walsh winning in 1978 and 1979 respectively, the great Brian “Snow” Quinn, of Alexandra, in 1980, and Cox’s second win in 1981.
Steve Dodds, of Riversdale, won in 1985, Edsel Forde, of Orepuki won three times consecutively in 1989-1990, Central Otago shearer Dion Morrell won in 1997, and Forde’s brother, Darin Forde, won four times, in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2004.
Rakaia shearer Tony Coster won five times, becoming the first Hyundai Santa Fe prize-winner during his 2009-2011 reign and winning again in 2015 and 2016, while Marlborough shearer Angus Moore won in 2012 and 2020.
The most wins remains the nine by Te Kuiti shearer David Fagan between 1986 and 2008.
Placings and points in the 2021-2022 PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit after two rounds:
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.
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.
Bladeshearing veteran Tony Dobbs, pictured representing New Zealand at Waimate in 2019. Having contemplated retirement when the board was last year the scene of his 100th win he's back this week to stick with the faith amid declining numbers of shearers with clippers.
Where have all the bladies gone ?
Shearing competition organisers have been wondering where have all the bladies gone as they struggle to make up the numbers for the first bladeshearing competition of the new New Zealand season this week.
While almost 140 have entered machine shearing and woolhandling at the Waimate Shears’ New Zealand Spring championships on Friday and Saturday, the Open Blades had by Monday night attracted just the six needed for a straight final.
There’s also an Intermediate Blades event which had four entries, and championships society president Warren White was hoping for a few “latecomers” and is planning a women’s match, while entries for other events had to be closed-off because of the pandemic Level 2 limit on public attendance and also so that it was known how many sheep would need to be prepared.
Among the blades entries Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie and who had been contemplating retirement amid a “flabbergasting” standing ovation at Waimate 12 months ago as he became the first, and possibly last, blade shearer to notch-up 100 wins, including 30 at Waimate where he first competed in 1979 and where bladeshearing has been a feature every year since the Shears were first held in 1968.
He shore one more competition a few weeks later, being beaten by just 0.09pts, by New Zealand teammate and 2019 World champion Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine, in the Canterbury Shears’ Golden Blades final.
Amid a battle for his health including more than one stint in hospital, ending 30 years of farming and keeping-on with a bit of farm maintenance and some digger-driving he shore just once more in the woolshed about Christmas last year.
That was until, having accepted the challenge to compete at Waimate because he would already be there as a competition judge, he shore six merinos for a neighbour on Monday, sating later: “That’s my practice.”
But missing will be Oldfield, with whom he won the World teams title in 2019 and who in June moved to the North Island, becoming possibly the only blades shearer based in the Wellington area in more than a century.
He’s living in Lower Hutt and keeps in trim travelling over the Remutaka Hill for machine shearing with Wairarapa contractors Paerata and Cushla Abraham when needed, but is also now targeting the small lifestyle block numbers on the rural fringes of the Wellington area – some of it with the novelty of doing it with the clippers.
“Machine shearing is plenty of fitness and really just shearing a couple on the blades each day on a show style is better than commercial blade shearing as competition practice,” he said. “Most farmers don’t have an issue with me bladeshearing a few for practice,” he said.
As for the lifestyle block shearing he said: “Normally it’s easier to blade shear than run power out to the yards.”
Still with an eye on defending the World title in Scotland in 2023, Oldfield said he couldn’t at present justify travelling to the shows on the blades circuit, which are all in the South Island, but he plans to defend the Golden Blades title next month, and take in some competitions in the south in the new year.
Worrying that the craft may lose some shows, he thinks about what can be done to save them, but said: “I think we are more likely to get more competition shearers out of hobby blade shearers than commercial in the future, especially as the amount of commercial blade shearing decreases. I don’t know how much we can do otherwise to get shearers to compete.”
Another reversing a decision not compete this year is Noel Handley, of Rangiora, who shore in World championships finals in 1996, 1998 and 2000, and who has only missed shearing at Waimate twice since 1980.
“I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing,” he said after his late decision.
The Waimate Shears is the second show of the new Shearing Sports New Zealand, following the New Zealand Merino Shears in Alexandra last Friday and Saturday, but which did not include bladeshearing.
As well as being competitor-only, other Level 2 conditions will be in place, including contact tracing, hand-sanitising, mask-wearing and social distancing.
It will be an early start on Friday with the national Winter Comb Senior and Open heats, from 7am (check-in at 6.30am), followed by Open, Senior and Junior woolhandling heats, all on merino sheep, finals, and the finals of the South Island woolhandling circuits.
A Speedshear and woolhandlers Quick Throw will be held from 6.30pm on Friday, and the Spring Shears shearing championships on crossbred longwool will be held on Saturday starting with Novice check-in and heats from 7.30am, followed by Junior, Intermediate, Senior and Open heats and the Blades events.
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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).
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Pictured above: Sir Palle Petersen and Denmark’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Pernille Kardel.
Charged with responsibility for leading PGG Wrightson’s wool exports, Sir Palle Petersen has ideal credentials for the role.
Growing up in Denmark, on leaving school Palle joined Danish wool trading company Bloch & Behrens, as he explains.
“After four years in Germany in their small Munich office, Bloch & Behrens sent me to New Zealand on what turned out to be a one-way ticket. That was in 1988. I married Rachel in 1991 and have been here ever since,” he says.
Several changes have taken place in the meantime.
“When faced with the imminent closure of the company in the late 1990s my initial brief was to wind up the business, though I had other ideas. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to pick up what was left of Bloch & Behrens NZ, in partnership with well-known Ashburton wool merchants the Woodham family. My old boss said it was a waste of time, and don’t bother with it. However, I took great pleasure in working hard to re-establish the relationships we had with customers throughout the world, turn the company around, and prove a few people wrong.
“In 2008 we were sold to PGG Wrightson and became the export arm of this company’s wool brokering division. This is an excellent fit for all parties, giving us the opportunity to bring growers closer to our international customers and vice versa,” he says.
Managing Bloch & Behrens NZ encompasses several challenges.
“Making a profit, managing risk and balancing the need to pay growers the best return we can, while also achieving the best possible market price, certainly makes life interesting.
“On the way through there have been plenty of highlights. Introducing the Wool Integrity brand is definitely one, taking us beyond being simply a commodity trader.
“Establishing ourselves with some niche type businesses has also been rewarding. Creating a market for Certified Organic New Zealand crossbred wool is part of that. Having built a network of loyal organic growers, and establishing a close partnership with one of our key customers, we are now paying these growers around double the price for their organic crossbred wool that conventional growers earn. These growers are passionate about the impact their farming has on their land and their families. Organic farming is no easy road: we are hugely proud to support such committed farmers,” he says.
Outside work Palle has been Denmark’s Christchurch-based Honorary Consul since 2012, a role that involves assisting any Danish citizens in the South Island who require help.
“I’ve organised repatriation of the bodies of Danish people who have died here, though mostly it involves replacing lost passports or minor translations. We did have one young Dane hunting on the West Coast who shot a blue duck and ended up in court. He shot the duck when it landed on a lake, and a couple of DOC officers were passing while he was fishing it out. He didn’t realise he had done anything wrong and they didn’t say anything at the time, though a few weeks later he received a message asking him to call in at the DOC Wanaka office. When he turned up, he was summoned to court. It cost him $10,000, which was an expensive mistake,” he says.
Palle’s service to Denmark was recently recognised with the Ridder of Dannebrog knighthood, which dates back to 1671 and was awarded in ceremony by Denmark’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Pernille Kardel.
Palle and Rachel have three adult daughters, Emma, Sophie and Pia (pictured below), and live in an historic homestead on a Price’s Valley lifestyle property, near Little River on Banks Peninsula.
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