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Media Releases November 2011

Sharp blades rule shear champs qualifiers - November 24, 2011

The sharp blades of Canterbury shearers Mike McConnell and Brian Thomson have placed them on the cusp of being the first members to be chosen for New Zealand�s team at the World shearing and woolhandling championships in Masterton in March.

The pair have dominated six rounds of a seven-round qualifying blade shearing series, and are assured of enough points to win their black singlets when the last round is shorn at Reefton in February.

New Zealand was third in the blades teams event at the last World championships in Wales last year, and Thomson, of West Melton, was a creditable third in the individual event, ahead of two of the more favoured southern Africa contingent.

McConnell, of Cave, has not previously represented New Zealand at a World championship. The selection series opened with two rounds at the end of last season, both of which were missed by former representative Bill Michelle, of Timaru, whose good form in the new season, including the New Zealand Spring Shears and the New Zealand Corriedale Championship titles, has still not been good enough to make-up for the early deficit.

Meanwhile, 2000 and 2005 World Champion Joanne Kumeroa heads the woolhandling team qualifying series after seven of 12 rounds.

Having won three finals and finished runner-up in another, the Whanganui woolhandler faces the toughest challenge at present from 2010 World teams champions Keryn Herbert, of Te Kuiti, and 2008 individual champion Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape.

But selection will hang on a showdown in mid-February at the Southern Shears in Gore, involving the top six of the 25 still in contention.The next qualifying round is at the national lambshearing championships at Raglan on January 7.

Southland shearer Nathan Stratford has also taken up the frontrunning in the early stages of the machine shearing series, in which the outcome will also hinge on a shootout at Gore, among the top 12 points-scorers from seven preliminary rounds.

Stratford, a 2006-2010 New Zealand transtasman series team member yet to compete at a World championships, claimed a maximum 12 points in the opening round at Christchurch on November 11 and nine at Waipukurau the next day to head 2010 World champion Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa, by four points, with 2008 World teams champion John Kirkpatrick just a further point away.

King Country gun David Fagan, the winner of five individual World titles from 1988 to 2003 and World teams champion with Ferguson in Wales last year, is currently just outside the top 12.

The remaining machine shearing qualifying preliminary rounds are at Lumsden (January 20), Winton (January 21), Raihape (January 28), Marton (February 4) and Balclutha (February 11).

For up-to date points click here

Winning return for NZ champ Smith - November 20, 2011

Reigning New Zealand Open shearing champion Rowland Smith during the weekend became the latest top North Island shearer to venture south to win the Open title at the Nelson A and P Show Shears.

A comfortable victor in his first win of the new season since returning from the Northern Hemisphere earlier this month, Hawke's Bay-based Northland shearer Smith was following in the footsteps of Cam Ferguson, the reigning Golden Shears and World champion when he won last year, and Paul Avery, the World champion when he won in 2009.

The southerners were no match for Smith who won a 20-sheep final in 21min 20sec, more than two minutes and ultimately 10pts clear of runner-up Kevin Hessell, from Pleasant Pt.

Marlborough shearer Chris Jones was third, and today (Sunday) went on to successfully defend the Top of the South Open title in another 20-sheep final, culminating a series of shows in Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast over the last 12 months.

To view the results of the Nelson A and P Show Shears at Nelson on Saturday, November 19, 2011, click here

Four in a row for Southland shearing gun - November 20, 2011

The small township of Tapanui continues to be happy hunting ground for leading South Island shearer Nathan Stratford who won the centennial West Otago A and P Show's Open shearing title on Saturday.

It was his fourth win in a row at Tapanui but, belying his place at the top of Shearing Sports New Zealand's World Championships selection series, it was his first victory since his only win of last season, at the same show a year ago.

He was nevertheless a hot favourite to notch a long-overdue win, having eight days earlier being beaten only by former World Champion and Australian raider Shannon Warnest in the New Zealand Corriedale Championships final in Christchurch.

He had previously been third in the New Zealand Merino Championships won in Alexandra by West Australian Damien Boyle, and second to New Zealand icon David Fagan at the New Zealand Spring Shears in Waimate. He also just missed-out on a place in a four-man final in the selection series' second round at Waipukurau, the first time he'd ever competed in Hawke's Bay.


Nathan Stratford
Nathan Stratford, winner of the West Otago A and P Open shearing final on Saturday.

With the third round not till mid-January, Stratford - a New Zealand representative in five transtasman tsts from 2006-2010 - was able to take advantage of the absence of the big names to return to the winning circle in the 14-sheep, four man final on Saturday.

Central Otago contractor and veteran former New Zealand representative and World Record holder Dion Morrell, won the race, finishing in 14min 29sec and beating Stratford by five seconds, but when it came to the quality it was no contest.

Morrell effectively disappeared from contention but Stratford had maintained his trademark craftsmanship to win by the big margin of almost 10pts from eventual second placegetter, Chris Vickers, of Palmerston. The annual trip up SH1 and highway 90 through the Wakaka Valley is not all about winning for the 37-year-old Stratford, now in his 14th season of Open-class shearing.

"It's a good local show, with a lot of young shearers wanting to learn," he said. "It's good to go to a show where the pressure's off and to help them out. They put a lot of effort in to run a good show."

He's not however taking any chances over his promising early-season form, and plans to contest all five remaining series preliminary rounds, including first-ever ventures to Marton and Taihape, to guarantee a place in the top 12 for February's showdown in Gore, from which two machine shearers will win black-singlet places at the World Championships in Masterton.

"There's still too many shows to go, and everyone's having a go," he said.

The rewards for West Otago competition organisers' perseverance despite the absence of most top-liners came in the entry of 30 shearers in the three competition classes, more than double a lowpoint of 14 just 3-4 years ago, which had left stalwart Kevin Baxter and others wondering if they should continue with the event.

Mr Baxter said: "We've got our own woolshed, and farm, so it's all set-up for it. It's part of the entertainment at the show, so we've put in a bit more effort, and it's all been worthwhile."

The show had its biggest crowd in years.

To view the results of the West Otago A and P Centennial Show Shears at Tapanui on Saturday, November 19, 2011, click here

Shear series favourite bounces back - November 13, 2011

World Championships New Zealand shearing selection series favourite John Kirkpatrick bounced back quickly from a first round demise when he won the Central Hawke's Bay A and P centennial show title from a lineup of the country's best in Waipukurau on Saturday.

The Napier gun was one of a range of North Island hopefuls who failed to reach the final of the opening round New Zealand Corriedale Championships at the Canterbury Show on Friday but left little doubt about his form just 24 hours later, when superior pace and quality gave him a 2.95pts winning margin over runner-up, reigning World champion and fellow Hawke's Bay shearer Cam Ferguson.

The winner of both events last year, he achieved a comfortable start in the series of seven preliminary machine shearing rounds, from which the top 12 will qualify for a showdown at the Southern Shears in Gore on February, to find two to wear the black singlet at the championships during the Golden Shears in Masterton from February 29-March 3.

Pongaroa farmer David Buick, who is not among the 20 in the series, was top qualifier from the semi-finals on Saturday and set the pace in the four-man final over 20 sheep each.

But a change of handpiece just ahead of the halfway stage was all Kirkpatrick needed and he and Ferguson raced to the end, the Napier-based favourite claiming a nine-seconds advantage in finishing first in 17min 14sec, with Buick a further seven seconds away, more than a sheep ahead of fourth finalist James Fagan, of Te Kuiti.


Junior shearing finalists (from left) Fraser Quinlivan 4th, Heather Newland 3rd, Catherine Mullooly 2nd, and Welsh winner Ierian Jones.

Junior woollhandling finalists from left Katrice Hawkins 2nd, Ataneta Puna 1st, Samantha Gordon 3rd and Erena Smith 4th

Southland shearer Nathan Stratford ended his first competition in Hawke's Bay heading the beaten semi-finalists, with sufficient series points to top the series table after the first weekend, which he started with a maximum 12pts in Christchurch when he was beaten only by the surprise winner, former World Champion Australian shearer Shannon Warnest.

The next two rounds are back-to-back in Southland on January 20-21.

Reigning World woolhandling teams champions Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape, mother to four-month-old Taylor Ray, and Keryn Herbert, of Te Awamutu, mother to two-month old Rikihana, had to pass-on child minding duties for a few minutes as they contested the Open woolhandling final. Alabaster claimed the honours, with current New Zealand representatives Ronnie Goss, of Apiti, and Herbert second and third, ahead of fourth finalist Dallas Mihaere, of Dannevirke.

All four are chasing places in the woolhandling team for the World Championships.

In the lower-grade shearing events, Tysson Hema claimed a home-town triumph in the senior final, Golden Shears junior champion Michael Rolston, of Levin, continued a winning start to his Intermediate career, and Dannevirke-based Welsh shearer Eirian Jones claimed his first New Zealand success by winning the Junior final. Rangi Barakat, of Waipawa, won the Senior woolhandling final, and Ataneta Puna, of Napier, won the Junior final, her first victory since winning at the Golden Shears in March.

Aussies hammer Kiwis in Christchurch shears tests - November 12, 2011

Led by former World champion Shannon Warnest, the Australian shearing and woolhandling team scored a series of stunning victories at the New Zealand Corriedale Championships in Christchurch yesterday.

Warnest won the championships Open machine shearing final, the first overseas shearer to win in the event's 52 years.

Finishing last off the board in a six-man final over 10 sheep, a minute and 45 seconds behind first-man off and Southland veteran Darin Forde, and 39 seconds behind fifth-man-off Nathan Stratford, also from Southland, Warnest's superior quality won the day in a close finish with 0.709pts covering the first three placings.

The 37-year-old South Australian father-of-two, who farms and owns a hotel as well as shearing and instructing, also led teammates Nathan Mealey, also from SA, and West Australian Mark Buscomb, to an Australian record third win in a row over New Zealand in transtasman tests, beating New Zealanders John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, Tony Coster, of Rakaia, and Colin O'Neill, of Alexandra.

To add to the Kiwis' demise, the Australian woolhandling team of Rachel Hutchison, NSW, and Aroha Garvin, West est Australia, scored Australia's first win over New Zealand in a woolhandling test in New Zealand since 1999, beating Keryn Herbert, of Te Kuiti, and Veronica (Ronnie) Goss, of Apiti,

The only glory for New Zealand in a series of events in which the black-singlet was expected to rule supreme was a win in the blades shearing test, and a hometown victory for Huia Whyte-Puna in the Open woolhandling final, in which Australian team member Aroha Garvin was third.

Warnest had not only never won a title in New Zealand but had almost never reached a final in this country.

"It's a bit hard to believe," he said today. "Crikey, mate, I go to the Goldies in Masterton (the Golden Shears) and I'm happy to make the Top 30.."

Yesterday's event was just as tough a field, its strength mustered by being the compulsory first round a series to pick two New Zealand machine shearing representatives for the World Championships in Masterton in March, for which Warnest is now a clear contender to again shatter the Kiwi dreams..

Several highly-rated competitors were eliminated in yesterday's semi-finals, including favourite, defending champion, and reigning Golden Shears champion Kirkpatrick, Hawke's Bay-based Northland shearer and New Zealand Open champion Rowland Smith, five-times World champion David Fagan, of Te Kuiti, and current World champion Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa.

The only North Island qualifier was Smith's brother, Matthew, tailing the field with Stratford claiming second place, West Coast shearer Jason Win was third, Coster fourth, and Forde fifth.

Most of the top New Zealand shearers are competing at the Central Hawke's Bay Shears today in Waipukurau, the second round of the selection series.

Separate series' are being run to find New Zealand's woolhandling and blades shearing representatives.

Test matches back on in Christchurch - November 10, 2011

Sports buffs yearning for international events in Christchurch will get it all in a rush on Friday with three transtasman tests during the New Zealand Corriedale Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at the Canterbury Show.

New Zealand meets Australia in a machine shearing test, a woolhandling test and a blades shearing test, the first time New Zealand's home machine and woolhandling legs of an annual home-and-away series dating back 37 years have been held anywhere other than at the Golden Shears in Masterton.

The tests were allocated to Christchurch initially to relieve pressure on the 2012 Golden Shears, which in March will include the 15th World Championships.

Shearing Sports New Zealand South Island committee chairman Gavin Rowland said it's an honour, even if only a "one-off event to fill the gap." Australia has sent its World Championships team of machine shearers Shannon Warnest and Nathan Mealey, both from South Australia, woolhandlers Rachel Hutchison (NSW) and Aroha Garvin (WA) and blades shearers John Dalla (WA) and Peter Artridge (NSW), along with third machine shearer Jason Wardlaw (Vic).

While New Zealand is favoured for a cleansweep of the three tests on home turf, it will be a particularly anxious time for machine shearers John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, Tony Coster, of Rakaia, and Colin O'Neill, of Alexandra. They suffered a heavy defeat in Perth a month ago, following a surprise win by Australia in Masterton last March.

Representing New Zealand in the woolhandling will be Te Kuiti-based Keryn Herbert, from Te Awamutu, and Veronica (Ronnie) Goss, of Kimbolton, while Mike McConnell, from Cave, and Brian Thomson, West Melton, will wear the black singlets in the blades match.

The championships also comprise the first event in an eight-round series to select New Zealand's two machine shearers for the World Championships, and the latest rounds in the woolhandling and blades selection series.

Shears champ retires, and tackles sport's longest day - November 9, 2011

Taranaki shearer Paul Avery has given up the chance of another World shearing title to tackle the World Multisport Championship in the Coast-to-Coast one-day endurance event.

The 44-year-old Avery, who won his title in Norway in 2008, is not among the entries for this season's New Zealand shearing team selection series starting at the Canterbury Show on Friday, and has confirmed: "I'm retired. I haven't shorn a sheep this season."

But he does plan a trip to Christchurch, by kayak, cycling and running from Kumara on the West Coast on February 11, coincidentally the day of the last of seven rounds in the shearing series before the top 12 are chosen for the finals in Gore a week later.

Avery is more than serious about the big day out across the South Island, after winning the veterans section and finishing third overall in the Coast-to-Coast's two-day classification last February, a week after winning the North Island Open shearing championship final in Marton.

"If I make the top 20 I'll be really stoked," Avery said from his farm at Toko, inland from Stratford.

He's yet to determine how shearing compares with not shearing, saying: "It's tough. One half's lost interest, and the other half says you can still compete."

Thus he will shear at Stratford in the local competition on November 26 and the Taranaki Shears next March - "because I help organise them."

In a dedicated feature in Shear History - 50 Years of Golden Shears in New Zealand, Shearing Magazine editor Des Willams wrote that Avery completed the "most rapid of rises through the ranks" when going from his first victory in the Manawatu junior final in the Spring of 1985, to reaching the Golden Shears Open semi-final in 1989, en route winning the Shears' 1987 Intermediate final and finishing second in the Senior grade in 1988.

He shore in 16 of the 20 Golden Shears Open finals in Masterton from 1990 to 2009, winning in 2005 and 2007 and finishing runner-up four times.

He also won three New Zealand Open finals and five North Island Shearer of the Year titles, all in Te Kuiti where his second placing in the Open in 1998 took him to first World Championships in Ireland, where he was second in the final to King Country icon David Fagan, with whom he won the first of three World titles, in the teams event.

A decade later another second placing in Te Kuiti paired him with winner and Napier shearer John Kirkpatrick, whom he then beat in the World Championships final and shared another teams title.

He won Shearing Sports New Zealand's Bowen Trophy as the country's top-ranking Open-class shearer in the 1999-2000 and 2005-06 seasons, while outside of the sport he was named Taranaki Sportsperson of the Year in 2007, recognising that year's wins in Masterton and Taranaki.

Despite his absence, about 16 shearers will contest the opening two rounds of the shearing series, on Friday in Christchurch and at the Central Hawke's Bay Show in Waipukurau on Saturday. Further points-scoring rounds will be held at Lumsden and Winto on successive days in January, later that month at Taihape, and at Marton and Balclutha in February.

Kirkpatrick is a warm favourite to be one of the two to win selection from the series final on February 18. The reigning Golden Shears Open champion won at six of the venues last season, and has already won three finals this season.

Romney Shears 2011 in NIT - November 7, 2011

Reigning New Zealand Shears circuit champion Dion King found Warrnambool in Australia an unlikely place to round-off his World Championships qualifying series preparation, but he did it with style..

The Napier gun ripped through the 18 crossbreds in 16 minutes and 16 seconds at the Warrnambool Show's Romney Shears, southwest of Melbourne, on October 29, and ultimately won a six-man all-Kiwi final by 1.4pts from runner-up David Fagan, whom he had beaten off the board by almost half-a-minute.

South Island shearers Jason Win and Angus Moore displayed continued progress in the top grade by finishing third and fourth, defending champion and New Zealand Open champion Rowland Smith was fifth, during a stopover on his way home from Europe, and World champion Cam Ferguson was sixth.


Dion King winning the Romney Shears at the Warrnambool Show southwest of Melbourne on October 29. In Australia as New Zealand Shears Circuit winner, it was his last competition before Shearing Sports New Zealand's World Championships qualifying series.

The Kiwi contingent also plucked some some Senior prizemoney, with East Coast shearer Nukutai Tuhura and Te Kuiti's Jack Fagan second and third behind Australian Corey Mifsud.

In the woolhandling Joanne Kumeroa carried her good early-season New Zealand form on to the Australian stage by being runner-up to Australian Fi Patison, while Maiden Elers won the novice final.

King returned to work in the Hawke's Bay wilderness, and decided against competing at Manawatu as he prepares for this weekend's double-header qualifying series opener, at the Canterbury Show in Christchurch on Friday and 24 hours later at the centennial Central Hawke's Bay Show in Waipukurau.

King won the Golden Shears Open and PGG Wrightson double in Masterton at the age of 31 in Masterton in 2006, and was a leading contender for the New Zealand World Championships teams in Norway in 2008 and Wales in 2010.

He was in the Golden Shears and New Zealand Open finals in both years, but failed to get the crucial win which would have put him into the team.

This year it's different, with shearers amassing points for their places in seven competitions throughout the country with the aim of making the top 12 for the series shear-off at the Southern Shears in Gore in February.

A six man final will ensue, the winner and runner-up winning their black singlets for the World Championships in Masterton in March.

"There might be one or two surprises in the top 12," he says. "The hardest part will be getting into the top six. From there it's all on."

Buick powers to first big Open win - November 6, 2011

Wairarapa farmer David Buick emerged from a geographical wilderness and years of living in the shadow of New Zealand's top shearers to win his first Open title at the Manawatu A and P Show on Saturday.

But despite beating some of the best, including World champion Cam Ferguson, the 33-year-old from remote Pongaroa has decided against tackling Shearing Sports New Zealand's eight-round 2012 World Championships qualifying series which opens with a hectic Canterbury and Central Hawke's Bay shows double next weekend.

Buick, who won the Golden Shears Intermediate final in Masterton in 1999 and the YFC Blue Ribbon Championship on the same board in 2008 and 2009, had thought about taking part in the series, but says it's a big commitment trying to run a 200ha farm and shear the Northern Wairarapa sheep flock at the same time.

He is also unprepared for the coarse-wooled corriedales on which the series opens, a compulsory round for about 16 shearers expected to vy for the two machine shearing places in the team for the championships, being held at the Golden Shears in March.

An infrequent competitor since graduating to Open-class after finishing fifth in the 2002 Golden Shears senior final, Buick had however shown he could be a serious contender among the top class, most notable when he reached the New Zealand Championships final at Te Kuiti, the only one of six qualifiers who had not won either a World title or the Golden Shears Open.

On Saturday, he beat four of those expected to contest the qualifying series, Hawke's Bay guns Ferguson, brothers Rowland and Matthew Smith, and Adam Brausch.

Although just pipped for time honours by Ferguson in the 15-sheep final on the three-stand Manfeild board, Buick's quality saw him win with 61.08pts, beating New Zealand Open champion Rowland Smith by 1.88pts. Ferguson had to settle for third place, while Matthew Smith and Brausch were both eliminated in the semi-finals.

Buick said that while he wouldn't head south for Friday's event, he will shear in Saturday's event at Waipukurau, along with other competitions in the North Island through the season.

Waipukurau shearer Tysson Hema beat more favoured rival Wi Poutu Ngarangione, of Gisborne, by more than three points to claim the Manawatu's senior title, his third in the class since winning the New Zealand Championships Intermediate title in 2009.

Golden Shears Junior champion Michael Rolston, of Levin, won the Intermediate final, and the Junior final provided a maiden victory for Fraser Quinlivan, of Feilding.

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