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11 February 2022
Wool Street Journal

Wool Street Journal: Shearing's last man standing, Apiti Shears and circuit final

The PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit is set to be completed despite the cancellation of all other competitions for the rest of the 2021-2022 shearing sports season.

Circuit convener Warren White, of Waimate, said it’s planned to have both the lambs and second-shear rounds at the Apiti Sports Shears, north of Feilding, on February 26, and the semi-finals and final a week later (March 5) at Armidale Merino Stud, near Gimmerburn, Central Otago.

The last two rounds of the qualifying series, in what is the 50th year of the national all-breeds shearing championship since the first presentation of its McSkimming Memorial Trophy at the Golden Shears in Masterton in 1973, would normally have been held at the Rangitikei Sports Shears in Marton on February 5 and the Pahiatua Shears on February 27, and the finals at the Golden Shears on March 5.

But all three are among the now 45 shearing sports shows cancelled since the 2021-2022 season started at the beginning of October with 59 shows on the calendar.

Cancellations since the nationwide red setting of the Covid-19 Protection Framework on January 23 include major South Island shows the Otago Shears in Balclutha and the Southern Shears in Gore, the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti, and the Auckland Easter Show, for the third time.

The demise was completed in the last two days with the cancellation of the Warkworth A&P Lifestyle Show north of Auckland and the Mayfield A&P Show in Canterbury, both of which were to have been held next month.

The sole-surviving Apiti Shears attracted more than 150 shearers and wool handlers last year, but chairman Russell Knight expects barely half that this year with all measures in place to comply with the red-light setting, including admission with vaccine passes only.

The events will be bracketed into three groups, with heats through to finals in each, to keep each within the limits for public gatherings.

Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan said the cancellations of shows around the country was decided by their independent committees depending on circumstances relevant to each event, and SSNZ is “acutely aware that none of these decisions has been taken lightly.”

“There has been a vast range of factors, often different from one show to the next, and all have been very distressing situations for the committees involved and all around them,” he said.

The dilemma struck home when the New Zealand Shears, which would have been held in Te Kuiti in April, were cancelled barely a week after he assumed the presidency of its show society

Circuit representatives chairman White is determined to complete the PGG Wrightson Vetmed series, in which the first three rounds had been completed as scheduled in October-November at Alexandra (merino), Waimate (crossbred longwool) and Christchurch (Corriedale).

With the cancellation of the Rangitikei and Pahiatua shears’, lambs were made available so that both the lamb shearling and second-shear rounds could be staged at Apiti, and the circuit committee had accepted merino provider Paterson’s offer enabling the top 12 on points across the series to contest the finals a week later in Central Otago.

White said the prize money will be paid down as far as 12th place, helping competitors recover some of the costs of taking part, which in some cases could have amounted to over $3000 in travel and accommodation. The winner will also have a year’s free use of a leased Hyundai Santa Fe and has traditionally also been a member of the New Zealand team for the trans-Tasman shearing and woolhandling series, which is currently on hold.

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