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Media Releases January 2015

Overseas competitors triumph in New Zealand competitions - January 26, 2015

Young Welsh shearer James McKenzie joined a growing list of shearers from overseas who have triumphed in New Zealand competitions this season when he won the Junior title at the Taihape A and P Show on Saturday.

With temperatures struggling to get out of single digits back home in Llantrisant, just west of Cardiff and within the historic boundaries of Glamorgan county, the 20-year-old who studied a National Diploma in Agriculture at Reaseheath College, Cheshire, had to tackle temperatures of 30deg plus downunder as well as a quality field of Central North Island juniors to score his first win.

It capped a good week, after finishing runner-up twice in two days the previous weekend - at Wairoa in Northern Hawke's Bay on January 17 and 335km away the next day at Levin, north of Wellington.

In Taihape, he won by 0.4pts from Woodville shearer Laura Bradley, by whom he had been beaten at Levin and who 24 hours after the Taihape final won the Geyserland Shears Junior final in Rotorua. Another Welsh shearer, Ash Jones, from Llangollen, was fourth.

In just his second year shearing, and in his second New Zealand season, having arrived on November 24 to work in Hawke's Bay, McKenzie shore in three shows in New Zealand last summer without success.

Back in the UK he then reached three finals, including the All Nations junior final during the World Championships in Gorey, Ireland, in May and the junior final at the Royal Bath and West Show in England in June.

Having just arrived in Taihape to work for a local contractor, and having also worked in the South Island, he won Saturday's final mainly on pace, shearing four sheep in 6min 53sec, beating the second finished by 28 seconds.

Bradley (7min 56sec) made up 2.5pts in judging on the shearing board, and 0.25pts in the pens, where McKenzie had a respectable finished job, but it was not enough to deny the visitor.

"Finally got a first place," he told friends on facebook soon afterwards. "Soo buzzing right now."

At least six countries, in addition to New Zealand, have had winners during the Shearing Sports New Zealand season do date. They've come from Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Chile, and Mongolia.

The result of the Taihape final was initially inadvertently recorded incorrectly on facebook at the weekend. The correct result was:

Junior final (4 sheep): James McKenzie (Wales) 6mnin 53sec, 35.9pts, 1; Laura Bradley (Woodville) 7min 56sec, 36.3pts, 2; Ricci Stevens (Napier) 8min 21sec, 40.55pts, 3; Ash Jones (Wales) 7min 39sec, 42.2pts, 4; Connor Puha (Kimbolton) 8min 56sec, 43.05pts, 5; Jericoe Lucas (Taihape) 8min 26sec, 48.05pts, 6.

Muzza gets a break in Rotorua Wales tour match - January 25, 2015

Feilding shearer Murray Henderson was a popular selection for the Geyserland Shears Invitation team which beat Wales in Rotorua on Sunday.

He's one of the very good triers who keep the show scene alive, currently making a string of finals without adding to his single Open-class victory, 15 years ago at Rangiwahia..

He and the Son-of-David, 22-year-old second-season Open shearer Jack Fagan, were selected for the match after finishing third and fourth in the Open heats and in a 12-sheep match beat Welshmen Gwion Evans and Rhys Jones by 10.12pts.

Henderson made the most of it, shearing the 12 sheep in 11min 48sec and being the only one in the match to cut under a minute a sheep. But he did so with also the best pen and board points, thus the best individual performance with 95.pts, Fagan next with 49.917pts.

Later in the sfternoon Hen derson was third behind former World champions David Fagan and Gavin Mutch in the Geyserland Shears Open final, having been second to Mutch at Taihape the previous day, again quality his hallmark after being last off the board and having come into the final only as next-man-in after Porangahau contractor Adam Brausch was unable to take his place in the field.

Henderson, who won the Senior title at the New Zealand Championships in Te Kuiti in 1996, had also this season been third behind 2010 World champion Cam Ferguson and new New Zealand Transtasman team member David Buick at Levin a week earlier, and runner-up to Buick at the Manawatu Show in November.

In Rotorua's tour match, Evans was second off in 12min 19sec, showing growing confidence which bloomed on the day in which he qualified for the Geyserland Shears Open final.

It was the second loss in the first two show-team matches for Welsh whose focus is a two-test series against the New Zealand team of David Fagan and Tony Coster, and longer-term a Welsh World championships victory.

In the opening match on January 17, Evans and Jones were beaten by the Tauranga show selection of Paerate Abraham and Mark Grainger.

Welsh manager Bill Jones, who presented a Welsh slate to the Rotorua show society to commemorate the match, was not particularly worried, commending the New Zealand shearing industry and sport for its development and growth of shearing skills around the World.

"We've been waiting for this for a while," he said as Evans made it into the Open final.. "We want to get 9 or 10 back home up to this level, and the only way we can do that is by keeping coming to New Zealand to compete with the best."

The next match is on February 7 at Reefton, where Wales won last year with Richard Jones and Gareth Daniel, and the previous year with Jones and Evans' brother, Gareth Llloyd Evans. The Reefton Open final also hasn't been won by a Kiwi since 2011, with Scotsman Hamish Mitchell winning in 2012, and Richard Jones triumphing in 2013 and 2014.

Results of the two matches to date on the 2015 Welsh team tour:

January 17, Tauranga (10 lambs): Tauranga Shears Selection 94.84pts (Paerata Abraham 11min 5.2sec, 47.26sec; Mark Grainger 10min 21.6sec, 47.58pts) beat Wales 101.78pts (Gwion Evans 10min 43.4sec, 48.17pts; Rhys Jones 11min 6.1sec, 53.605pts).

January 25, Rotorua (12 sheep): Geyserland Shears Invitation 95.4pts (Murray Henderson 11min 48sec, 45.483pts; Jack Fagan 12min 50sec, 49.917pts) beat Wales 105.62pts (Gwion Evans 12min 19sec, 51.95pts; Rhys Jones 12min 45sec, 53.667pts).

Remaining matches are: Feb 7, v Show selection, at Reefton; Feb 21, v New Zealand (first test), at Gore; Feb 27m, v Show selection, at Taumarunui; Mar 1, v New Zealand (second test), at Pahiatua.

Geyserland Shears team member Jack Fagan

The teams - the winning Kiwis Murray Henderson and Jack Fagan, Welsh manager Bill Jones, and shearers Rhys Jones and Gwion Evans.

Murray Henderson shearting in Rotorua's Open semi-finals. He was later third in the final, and was top individual in the Geyserland Shears selection match against Wales.

Wales shearer Rhs Jones

Welsh shearer Gwion Evans

Fagan signs-off in Rotorua, but the road show carries on - January 25, 2015

Shearing legend David Fagan marked possibly his last competition visit to the Geyserland Shears a 12th victory in its 20-sheep Open final, and an autograph for a longtime fan who saw him rock-back the final with its fastest time.

Fagan hasn't quite made a firm public announcement that 2015 is his last dig, after 33 seasons at the top and now 632 Open-class wins.

But when timekeeper Colleen Watchorn, of Tauranga, asked if she could have his signature on a show singlet, he obliged, saying she could, because he probably wouldn't be back.

Fagan has previously confirmed that when he represents New Zealand in two tests against Wales this season it will be his last time in a black singlet with a silver fern, and he plans a full-on commitment to the rest of the season, including Aria next-up on Waitangi Day, Marton the next day, and then 24 hours later the Speedshear at the first New Zealand Rural Games in Queenstown.

At Rotorua the multiple World champion found the sheep in the five-man final to his absolute liking, and revelled in what became a match-race with 36-year-old 2012 World champion Gavin Mutch, who was top qualifier from the heats and the semi-final, continuing the form shown in his return to competition when beating Fagan and others at the Taihape A and P Show 24 hours earlier.

The 53-year-old multiple World champion Fagan, who had last won at Rotorua in 2012, was in front most of the way and finished in 17min 3sec, 11 seconds and ultimately a point clear of Scotsman and Taranaki farmer Gavin Mutch.

Feilding shearer Murray Henderson, who still hasn't won an Open foinal since his sole triumph in 15 years ago, continued perhaps his best patch of form, finishing third, just 24 hours after finishing second to Mutch at Taihape.

Mark Grainger, of Te Kuiti was fourth, and Welsh team shearer Gwion Evans was fifth, adding to the proliferation of Northern Hemnisphere shearers in the weekend's finals. There were two more in the Senior final, 22-year-old runner-up Scott Wilson, from Biggar, Lanarkshire, in Scotland, and French shearer Loic Leygonie, who was fifth. The final was won by Levin's Michael Rolston.

Gisborne's Larry Fleming made it a Taihape-Rotorua double for the weekend in the Intermediate grade, and Laura Bradley, of Woodville, added the Junior title to the Horowhenua title she won seven days earlier.

New Zealand representative woolhandler Keryn Herbert picked up her second Open woolhandling win of the weekend, her fears of dwindling entries confirmed when only two others started.

It was a big weekend for three Braddick sisters from Eketahuna, the name featuring in all three woolhandling finals, as they had at Taihape.

Emaraina was runner-up today in the Open final, Ana followed up a Taihape win by being third in today's Senior final, which was won by Adrienne Samuels, of Marton, and Marika Braddick, won Rotorua's Junior final.

David Fagan (left) and son, pen-boy, Open semi-finalist, and Geyserland Shears Invitation team member Jack Fagan, moments after David Fagan shore the 20 sheep in the Shears' final in 17min 3sec.

Anything for a fan - David Fagan poses for a photo with long-time fan and timekeeper Colleen Watchorn.

Woodville sisters Marika, Emaraina and Ana Braddick after their success in each making their woolhandling finals at Taihape and Rotorua. Ana won the Senior title at Taihape, and Marika the Junior title at Rotorua.

Senior shearing winner Michael Rolston.

Mutch bounces back from health scare to win big Taihape title - January 24, 2015

A few days in hospital before Christmas and a few lingering questions about the health proved no bar to Taranaki farmer and 2012 World champion Gavin Mutch when he won a top-class Open final at the Taihape A and P Show today.

In plus-30deg temperatures, having driven thee hours from Whangamomona, and having not won a competition in New Zealand since the Taranaki Shears last March, Mutch emerged from a strong field of 26 to be top qualifier for the six-man final to get a flying to the 20-sheep showdown by having first three shorn in under 2min 30sec.

Amazingly, Mutch had already put a sheep around 2010 World champion and Waipawa shearer Cam Ferguson, who had all the bad luck this Saturday after two show wins and a Speedshear triumph just a week earlier.

Among a good-shearing flock there was always a fighter, and Mutch had his struggle on the 12th, when his own condition started to wilt.

He recovered enough to finish first, with 20 sheep away in 17in 20sec, 10 seconds ahead of Hastings gun, 2006 Golden Shears champion and World lambshearing record holder Dion King. Te Kuti legend David Fagan was the only other shearer not to be beaten by at least a sheep, but patience proved a virtue for the vanguard.

That applied particularly to Feilding shows stalwart Murray Henderson who, having just made it into the final as a replacement for unavailable second-to-top qualifier and Porangahau contractor Adam Brausch, made up a time-points deficit from finishing last and 1min 47sec down by scoring the best board and pen quality points to claim second place overall.

Mutch, who ended with a comfortable margin of 2.9pts, was surprised but found the smaller ewes to his liking.

"They were my sort of sheep, they were like UK sheep" said the 36-year-old father-of-four who faces a conundrum with changing priorities in life (farm and family), but still sees himself following most of the important show weekends over the next two months.

"But these days it's a bit like waking up in the morning and deciding if I'll go," he said.

The sheep proved "right" also for several other UK competitors in a competition which attracted over 100 shearers across four grades.

The sheep also suited other UK competitors, with fellow-Scot Scott Wilson finishing runner-up and Welshman Alun Jones 5th to Masterton shearer Ethan Pankhurst in the Senior final, Ynyr Pugh, of Wales, and Nick Greaves, of England, 5th and 6th respectively in the Intermediate final won by Larry Fleming, of Gisborne, and 20-year-old James McKenzie, from Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon, in Wales, won the Junior final, in which Ash Jones, also from Wales, was fourth.

Gavin Mutch returns to competition and winning form to claim the Taihape Open shearing title.

Commentator and MC Koro Mullins introduces Open woolhandling winner Keryn Herbert.

Scottish shearer Scott Wilson, who at 22 in his fifth season in New Zealand, was one of numerous Northern Hemisphere shearers who reached finals at the weekend. He was second to Ethan Pankhurst in this Taihape senior final, and second the next day to Michael Rolston at Rotorua.

The numbers weren't so great in the three woolhandling events, raising the concern of New Zealand team member Keryn Herbert, who won the Taihape for a fifth consecutive time.. She urged competitors to get to the next day's Rotorua Show, and said: "Support these shows.

If you don't they'll die. And then we won't have the shows.."

Herbert won by one of the narrowest margins seen in an open woolhandling final, which wasn't good news for Dannevirke's Rocky Hape-Taite, denied his first Open win in New Zealand by just 0.112pts, and beating 2008 World champion Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape.

The Senior woolhandling final was also a close affair, won by Ana Braddick, of Eketahuna, from runner-up Adrienne Samuels, of Marton, while the Junior final was won by Raniera Whare, of Taumarunui.

Let's move on, says Te Huia - January 23, 2015

It was like getting straight-back on the horse for Te Kuiti shearer Stacey Te Huia when he conceded defeat in his second bid to break the nine-hour strongwool ewes tally record yesterday(January 22).

Bailing-out at lunchtime, with the record of 721 held by Hawke's Bay gun Rodney Sutton out of reach, the Australia-based Te Huia pronounced himself fit and ready to tackle the finewooled merino record of 513 at Parkdale, near Dubbo NSW, on January 20.

Te Huia, a 36-year-old father-of-two who first shore a record at the age of 20 in December 1999, and who is still the holder of two other records, also said that while he might have thought "that's it" as he shore the last sheep before lunch, outside the air was clearer and he said he wouldn't mind doing another season of record shearing before "retiring."

Based in Bathurst, and heading back to Australia on Sunday, Te Huia reckoned the merino record will be an easier target, although it's 10 years since New Zealand-born West Australia-based, fellow multiple records shearer Dwayne Black set the mark at The Duck Farm, Kojonup, WA, on April 5, 2005.

Thursday's record had originally been set for Waitara Station, near Te Pohue, Hawke's Bay, and it was in December that the call was made to switch to the perendales of Te Hape Station, east of the King Country township of Benneydale and where Te Huia and Waikaretu shearer and contractor Sam Welch set a two-stand record of 1341 almost exactly two years earlier.

Stacey Te Huia

Stacey Te Huia
As it happened, the "second-pick" flock were a sometimes stroppy and cotty lot, the fine lines characterised by one farmer in the area who said that had it been a day earlier the result may have been completely different.

It was uphill all morning, and the end came at the end of the third of five runs - five-and-a-half hours shearing for a tally of 427, which was 13-down on the pre-lunch tally of Sutton when he breached the average of 80 an hour to set a new record of 721 on January 31, 2007.

About 15 minutes into the lunch break, it was decided the record was out of reach and it was pointless carrying-on with what was Te Huia's second attempt at the record. Two years ago the first attempt was called off after the fourth run, although Te Huia shore-on unjudged to complete a day of 703 sheep.

Yesterday he shore 155 in the opening run of two hours fom 5am to breakfast at 7am, three sheep behind Sutton's opening run, and six behind the 161 shorn by Southland shearer Darrin Forde when he set the previous record of 720 in 1997.

Te Huia matched Sutton's 1hr 45min second run tally of 140, but it was the next run to lunch that was the breaker. Needing to at least equal Sutton's third run of 142, Te Huia had a count of just 132, after two had been rejected by the judges.

The nature and condition of the sheep on a day on which the conditions otherwise were close to ideal, meant Te Huia, certainly in the first and third runs, was unable to find the rhythm which is his trademark.

Several flipped as they were dragged onto the board, and the handpiece was kicked clear at least a couple of times. While occasional a sheep would be shorn in 35-36 seconds, the next would be shorn in 42 or more, making it hard to maintain the average shearing time of about of about 38 seconds for each of the flock, which averaged under 58kgs, said station manager Ian Valler.

South Island judge Paul Harris announced the end from the steps outside the shed, and a still fresh and willing looking Te Huia spoke with some emotion, sorry for the sake of his supporters but needing to "move-on" to the next challenge just four weeks away.

"The sheep wouldn't let me do what I wanted," said Te Huia soon afterwards, still in good shape, having prepared for eigth month, with running, swimming, cross-fit training in addition to the daily rigours of shearing. And, no "beers" until after the merino record next month.

"The first run is always about making it through that first two hours," he said. "I was up two in the first half-hour of the second run, but then I changed a comb on the hour�"

"The third run was just hard work, the sheep were always fighting, and I was always searching for rhythm"

"I think that 700 mark (in February 2013) was awesome," he said, tackling the disappointment of "failing" to break the record. "It's always the risk you take in with you - a 50 percent chance of failure."

He was most disappointed for the sake of the army of supporters "who helped me try to achieve my goal."

"Unfortunately, it didn't work out," he said. I've just got to get over it and move on." The decision to quit was easier than in 2013, for Te Huia said there was no point in bashing the body about ahead of the merino challenge. It gave a better chance to recover, and be ready. "I've got to maintain my body all the time - maintain what I've got."

Among the support team were Welch, Digger Balme, the Fagan family, sister and fellow shearing record holder Kerri-Jo, parents Dean and Jo and others in the family. Kerri-Jo was one of the woolhandlers, along with Grace Davison, Nicole Murphy and Lynda Tarrant.

Shearing legend David Fagan was one of four World champions who were present, the others being 1994 champion Alan MacDonald, 2008 champion Paul Avery and new champion Rowland Smith. Te Huia's 427 to lunch, compared with Sutton's 440, the 436 by Forde 18 years ago, and the record pre-lunch tally of 442 by Dion Morrell in his 1995 World Record of 716.

As one facebooker commented, Te Huia had still managed 427 by lunchtime. It's the sort of tally many good shearers might not ever do in a day. While times and conditions have changed, it might also be compared with one of the first nine-hour records shorn to judging rules, the 525, for the whole day, by Morrie Anderson in 1970.

Black-singlet swansong for shearing great David Fagan? - January 15, 2015

Shearing great David Fagan is likely to end one of the longest New Zealand representative sports careers when he dons the black singlet for two test matches against Wales this summer.

The Te Kuiti gun and Rakaia shearer Tony Coster will shear tests against Welsh visitors Gwion Evans and Rhys Jones at the 50th anniversary Southern Shears in Gore on February 21 and the Pahiatua Shears on March 1.

Fagan, 53, first represented New Zealand 30 years ago, in a match against a World Selection which included older brother John at the Golden Shears in Masterton in 1985.

He has since shorn 19 transtasman matches in New Zealand and over 100 matches against teams from the UK, in New Zealand, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Fagan has also represented New Zealand at nine World championships, winning at least one title at all but one - Toowoomba, Queensland, in 2005.

He won five individual and seven teams titles, which are among an Open-class career record of 630 wins around the World - about three times as many as the World's next-most successful shearers.

He won eight finals in 2014, including the Royal Welsh Show Open during a New Zealand team tour for which he was selected after finishing fourth in last year's New Zealand Open championships final.

While Fagan says last year's tour in the UK was his last in a New Zealand team and he no longer shears full-time and hasn't shorn a full day in over a year, he isn't ready to hang-up the handpiece altogether.

He says he will continue while he's still competitive, and plans to shear shows throughout New Zealand at least through the rest of the season.

Having last contested an open competition when he won at the Stratford show in November, Fagan is heading south with son and fellow Open-class shearer Jack for the Northern Southland Community Shears tomorrow (Friday) at Long Range, Lumsden, and to Winton on Saturday for the Southland Shears' national crossbred lambshearing championships, which he won 14 times from 1984 to 2005.

Meanwhile, the Welsh team opens a six-match tour against a regional development selection at the Tauranga A and P Show this Saturday.

Stilwell savours the moment at Kaikohe - January 13, 2015

Winning an Open-class shearing title for the first time was almost the second prize for shearing contractor Tom Stilwell as he triumphed at his home Kaikohe A.P and H. Show on Saturday.

The real reward was keeping the events going - giving his boys the day off and getting them to shear in a competition which still proved a big hit with the spectators despite the limited numbers of entrants in the four classes.

"We had 9 or 10 of the shearers," he said. "I gave the crews the day off to keep the numbers up."

They amounted to more than half of the shearers on hand for the first of the six northernmost shows on the Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar of 60 competitions from October to April.

Stilwell, 28, had never striven to great heights on the competition stage, apart from working in Wairarapa in 2010 and making his first and only appearance at the Golden Shears, in the Senior heats.

He was not seriously challenged on Saturday, when there were just three Open-class entries for the 15-lambs event.

"They were good lambs," he said, but he knows it'll take more than the quality of lambs to keep things going as the numbers of ewes in Northland continue to decline, with a corresponding decline in the numbers of shearers needed to shear them.

The Senior event was won by Dargaville shearer Jared Rountree, who also won the afternoon's Cleanshear event. The Intermediate event was won by Rex Finlayson, of Kai Iwi Lakes, while 2013 Golden Shears novice finalist Michael Boyd, of Dargaville, won the Junior event.

The next competition north of Auckland is at Warkworth on January 24.

Welsh shearers start NZ tour at Tauranga Show - January 13, 2015

Two bright hopefuls on the UK shearing scene will step-out for the first time in Welsh colours on tour when they Open a New Zealand tour at the Tauranga A and P Show on Saturday.

They are Rhys Jones and Gwion Lloyd Evans, both off farms in North Wales and effectively showing their own colours as potential challengers to 2014 Wales World Championships representatives Gareth Daniel and Richard Jones in the race to represent their country at the next World Championships in Christchurch in two years' time.

On Saturday they will open a six-venue tour against a provincial selection, the first step in preparing for tests against the New Zealand team of Te Kuiti shearing legend David Fagan and former three-times New Zealand national circuit champion and Rakaia shearer Tony Coster at Goe next month and Pahiatua on March 1.

Jones, from Maes Truan Farm, near Corwen, and who has shearing runs in Wales and Norway, arrived in New Zealand just last week. But he has shorn more than 13 seasons in New Zealand over the years, working for Fagan's family in the woolsheds of King Country.

In 2003, at the age of just 22, he shore 647 sheep during a successful attempt with compatriot Nicky Beynon on the British ewes record for two stands in nine hours.

Evans, from Llansannan, near Denbigh, shears about eight months each years and has done six seasons in New Zealand for contractor Colin Thirkell, also in King Country. Evans had his biggest success in competition to date when he qualified for a place in the team by winning last year's Wales Circuit.

Tauranga was a happy-hunting-ground for Gareth Daniel and Richard Jones last January, beating King Country shearers Mark Grainger and Jack Fagan as they kicked-off a campaign which culminated with an unprecedented Welsh second placing in the World championship teams event in Ireland in May - beating Kiwis Rowland Smith and John Kirkpatrick.

They will get some preparation for Saturday's match, against a team to be chosen on the day, when they shear during the day in the Tauranga Open championships, which was won last year by David Fagan.

The father-and-son Fagans will miss this year's show, travelling south for the Northern Southland Community Shears on Friday and the national crossbred lambshearing championships at Winton on Saturday.

There will be plenty, however, to attract top shearers to Tauranga, with the show being followed by the annual Te Puna Speedshear, with a $2000 first prize in the Open class and $1000 for the quickest Senior.

Rhys Jones

Gwion Evans

Test shearing hope warms up with Duvauchelle win - January 10, 2015

Rakaia shearer Tony Coster gave a hint he's ready for an upcoming test series against Wales when he won the first South Island competition of the New Year on Saturday (January 10), despite a lack of recent shearing.

Coster, who according to wife Sheryl hadn't done any shearing for several weeks, won the Open final at the Duvauchelle Show on Bank's Peninsula.

A newly-created Shearing Sports New Zealand Master Shearer, Coster has had more than 25 seasons of Open-class shearing, but it was his first win at Duvauchelle, where he did not compete last year.

Despite the lack of preparation and previous form at the show, he was still the favourite to win, having won four finals pre-Christmas, along with finishing runner-up to Irish shearer Ivan Scott in the New Zealand Corriedale Championship at the Canterbury Show in November.

Fellow Master Shearer Grant Smith, also of Rakaia, tried hard to displace Coster and won the race for time honours, with a 20-second margin and finishing his 15 second-shear sheep in 14min 24.34sec.

But Coster maintained the quality and ultimately won by a comfortable three-and-a-half points from Mark Herlihy, of Rangiora, with Smith having to settle for third.

Coster and last year's Duvauchelle winner, King Country shearing legend David Fagan, will shear a test series against the Wellsh team of Rhys Jones and Gwion Evans next month, Coster replacing injured Napier gun John Kirkpatrick.

A two-man Senior competition was won by David Jackson, of Sefton, while Canterbury Show winners Hugh De Lacy, of Fernside, near Rangiora, and Emily Te Kapa, from Scotland, maintained their form from pre-Christmas by winning the Intermediate and Junior finals respectively.

More than 40 shearers competed in the hot summery conditions, with organisers especially pleased by the entry of 15 shearers in the Junior grade.

Peninsula show kick's off New Year South Island shearing competitions - January 07, 2015

At least 40 competitors are expected for the South Island's first shearing competition of the New Year at the Peninsula Duvauchelle Show on Saturday(January 10).

While some rain is forecast for Christchurch during the week, show competition organiser Phil Bremner is hopeful it won't disrupt the busy shearing season too much and the competition will get the support of those working in the region.

Among them will be overseas shearers keen to add to the record of visitors who have succeeded at the small show over recent years.

While the big highlight was last year's Open final win by New Zealand shearing great David Fagan, if Te Kuiti, shearers from overseas have had plenty to savour in the lower grades, with Norway, England, Ireland and Scotland all represented in the Senior, Intermediate and Junior winner's circles over the last five years.

Among those out to extend the record this year will be Geraldine-based intermediate-class Chilean shearer Luis Pincol, who had his first win at the Nelson show in November.

But the holiday season means the competition, at the showgrounds at the head of the picturesque Akaroa Harbour - an "easy" hour's drive from Christchurch, says Mr Bremner - will also have plenty of spectators from overseas.

About 450 second-shear ewes are being prepared for the competition, starting at 10am. Shearing will be in all four grades, a contractors' teams event if there are enough sheep remaining, and a speedshear at the end of the day.

Mr Bremner says the outlook is "good", and MetService is forecasting temperatures in the high 20s.

Remaining shearing competitions in the South Island this summer: Jan 10, Peninsular Duvauchelle Show, at Akaroa; Jan 16, Northern Southland Community Shears (includes woolhandling), at Lumsden; Jan 17, Golden Bay A and P Show, at Takaka; Jan 17, Southland Shears and New Zealand Crossbred Lambshearing and Woolhandling Championships, at Winton; Jan 24, Tapawera Sports Shears, near Nelson; Feb 7, Reefton A and P Show (includes blade shearing); Feb 13-14, Otago shearing and woolhandling championships, Telford farm, near Balcutha; Feb 20-21, 50th Anniversary Southern Shears (includes woolhandling), at Gore; Feb 21, Murchison Shears; Feb 28, Kaikoura A and P Show (includes blade shearing); Mar 7, Amuri Show, at Rotherham; Mar 14, Cheviot A and P Show (includes woolhandling); Mar 14, Mayfield A and P Show; Mar 15 Kowai Sefton Sports (includes blade shearing), at Sefton; Mar 21, Methven Lamb Shears, at Methven; Mar 22, Flaxbourne A and P Show, at Ward; Apr 4, Oxford Shears (includes blade shearing); Apr 6, Mackenzie Shears (includes blade shearing), at Fairlie.

Keeping shearing competitions alive in the North - January 07, 2015

The long-time organiser of the first of New Zealand's northernmost shearing competitions of the summer is determined the events will survive despite a shortage of shearers after the decline in the sheep population north of Auckand.

Richard Tylden runs the Kaikohe Agricultural, Pastoral and Hortcultural Society's shearing competition which will be held on Saturday (January 10) starting at 10am at the Kaikohe Showgrounds and has a big stake in the history of the event.

He's been involved since 1979 when he stepped into the breach at a day's notice after an organiser's relative was killed in the Erebus disaster, but the family history dates back at least another 20 years to when his father and uncle built the original facilities for the shearing competition when the show was held at the recreation ground in Kaikohe in the late 1950s.

"We've got a top-class four-stand facility now," he said. "We've been through the sheep-numbers thing, we've managed to keep going, and we will keep going. I don't see why not."

In the peak years, about 500 sheep were being mustered for the competition, but he expects just 200 lambs will be needed for next Saturday's junior, intermediate, senior, open and veterans shearing events.

It still has the potential to present some top up-and-coming shearers, as it did in 2012 when Kaeo brothers Bevan, Bryce and Charlie Guy won the Open, Intermediate and Junior events respectively, and 2001 when the Junior runner-up was Ruawai youngster Rowland Smith, in his first final on a path which culminated in his crowning as World Champion last May.

The shows have some real stalwarts in veterans headed by 79-year-old Rusty Campbell, who has rarely missed a show in the north over the last half-century.

Others are Ken Massey and Rex Salisbury, both now in their 70s, and who with Campbell will make another pilgrimage to compete at the Golden Shears in Masterton in the first week of March.

Among others who've helped the contest survive is King Country veteran Digger Balme, who made the 400km-plus journey last year for a family double in which he and son Josh won the Open and Junior titles respectively.

Fears for the future of Northland shearing competitions loomed with the demise of shearing at the Kumeu show. The only Shearing Sports New Zealand A-graded show north of Auckland, it has been held in the second weekend of March in recent years, attracting the stars from the Golden Shears a week earlier.

The six northern shearing competitions this summer are: Jan 10, Kaikohe A.P. and H. Show, at Kaikohe Showgrounds; Jan 24, Warkworth A and P Lifestyle Show, at Warkworth; Feb 7, North Kaipara A and P Show, at Paparoa; Feb 14, Northern Wairoa A and P Show, at Dargaville; Feb 21, North Hokianga A and P Show, at Broadwood; Apr 3-4, Northern Shears, at the Easter Show, Auckland.

Shearing record smashed by hot five in King Country woolshed - January 06, 2015

The World five-stand strongwool lambshearing record for eight hours was smashed in the heat of a King Country woolshed today.

Pio Pio contractor Mark Barrowcliffe's gang peeled-off 2910 lambs, beating the previous record of 2638 set in December 2013.

The record took place at Ingleby NZ LP's Puketiti Station, off remote Haku Rd, starting at 7am in cool conditions with a light missed outside, proving to be idea start to a day in which temperatures in the woolshed soared to well over 30deg as the crowd swelled to more than 150.

The day comprised four two-hour runs with half-hour breaks for morning and afternoon smoko and an hour off for lunch, excitement hitting its peak when with an hourly rate of over 360, the old record was passed with about 40 minutes to go to knock-off at 5pm.

Heading the individual tallies were Ringakaha Paewai, of Dannevirke, with 618, Willie Hewitson, from Woodlands, Southland, with 603, Aidan Copp, of West Melton, Christchurch, with 586, Jock Macdonald, of Pio Pio, shearing 564, and George Parker, from Kingston, South Australia, with 539.

In the record 13 months earlier, South Island shearer Angus Moore shore 607, followed by Sam Welch 573, Coel L'Huillier 518, Richard Welch 491 and Peter Totorewa 449.

A notable achievement by Copp was his last run of 156 - 12 more than the best of his earlier runs and matching Paewai's last dig as the best run tallies of the day, while Parker excelled by posting what was his first 500.

It was a particularly memorable day for Paewai, who won the Golden Shears Junior winner in 2002, the Intermediate a final a year later and was Senior runner-up in 2005.

Two years ago he lined-up with fellow Hawke's Bay guns Cam Ferguson and Adam Brausch for a three-stand record, only to learn from the judges the night beforehand the lambs for that event did not have enough head wool and the bid could not go ahead.

There were no such issues this time with the wool-weigh before the judges the previous afternoon providing 20.8kg of wool from 20 lambs, comfortably better than the required minimum average of 0.9kg of wool each.

Of the others, Hewitson's biggest previous success had been a surprise win in the 2010 Royal Welsh Show Senior final, and MacDonald is the son of Alan MacDonald, who in December 1993 shore a nine-hour solo record of 831 lambs, and went on to win the 1994 World Championships final in Wales seven moths later.

Showing the potential forecast by Barrowcliffe, all five shore more than the average 528 per shearer needed to challenge the previous record, and with successive combined two-hour run tallies of 731, 728, 723 and 728 were constantly well over the average 660 required per run.

Two of the previous record-breaking gang, Moore and Sam Welch, gave up a day's shearing in the Waikato-Coromandel region to see their record go and were among the first to congratulate the new holders.

Among others present was Te Kuiti shearer Stacey Te Huia, who had been working in the area and took in the third run. On Friday he expects to be at Te Hape, east of Bennydale, where on January 20 he will make a second attempt on the ultimate challenge, the now South Island-based Hawke's Bay shearer Rodney Sutton's nine-hour ewes record of 721.

Te Huia is also hoping to tackle a merino record in Australia in February. Peter Black travelled from Australia as chief judge, while the North Island judges were John Fagan, Ian Buchanan and Mike Barnett, while the South Island panellists were Paul Harris, Colin Gibson and John Hough.

World Sheep Shearing Records Society secretary Hugh McCarroll said the judges were satisfied with the standard as the shearers shore "close to the edge" thoughout the day, and just one caution was issued.

Station managers Rusty and Hillary Morgan had their own band of family and supporters over for the day, from as far as Gisborne and Napier, about five hours away, and a French television crew was at the station throughout shooting for a documentary.

The station is also well-known for its DoC-protected caves, including the "Grand Canyon" and its colony of long-tail bats.

Thousands from around the World followed updates on Shearing Sports New Zealand's facebook page, and by midnight, a page record of over 9000 had been reached with the 6pm posting of the confirmed tallies.

Run-by-run and day tallies for the five record-breakers, listed from stands one to five, were: Aidan Copp (145, 141, 144, 156) 586; Ringa Paewai (153, 154, 155, 156) 618; Willie Hewitson (151, 154, 152, 146) 603; George Parker (136, 136, 135, 132) 539; Jock MacDonald (146, 143, 137, 138) 564

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