Two shearers from Dannevirke who have each gone more than a decade in open-class shearing without victory finally made the breakthrough a day apart during three competitions in the South Island at the weekend.
Paerata Abraham, now living in Masterton and who has shorn in numerous finals won by such people as Hawke's Bay World champions John Kirkpatrick and Rowland Smith, won the Mayfield A and P Show's open final in Mid-Canterbury on Saturday and Ringakaha Paewai, now living in Gore, won the open title at Sefton Shears in North Canterbury on Sunday.
Uniquely, both Abraham and Paewai won on quality after being last to finish in their respective finals, each in their 12th season in the open class since their last wins, in the senior grade, in the 2005-2006 season.
A regular top competitor in the short-form of speed-shearing, Abraham is perhaps best known at open level for his only Golden Shears open final in 2016, when he was ultimately placed sixth after putting a sheep around the field in finishing first in 15min 50.234sec. He has also reached two PGG Wrightson National Circuit finals, in 2011 and 2017.
His last win had been in the 2005 New Zealand Merino Championships senior final in Alexandra, when Paewai was third, and he was fifth in the 2004 Golden Shears intermediate final.
Paewai, an elder brother of Six60 drummer Eli Paewai, entered the open grade with the unique achievement of having already shorn in the finals of the four other grades at the Golden Shears.
He was fourth in the 2001 novice final, won the junior final in 2002 and the 2003 intermediate final, in which future open and world champion Cam Ferguson was third, and he shore twice in the senior final for runner-up to Chopper Waihape in 2005 and fourth in the final won the following year by Rowland Smith.
Paewai also shore in the New Zealand championships intermediate and senior finals in Te Kuiti.
Abraham's win in a 20-sheep final on Saturday was in direct contrast to the rip-snorting indulgence of the 2016 Golden Shears.
This time he was last to finish a four-man final, more than 40 seconds after first finisher Floyde Neil, of Taumarunui, but had the best quality, by more than four points, and had a comfortable win.
Paewai won by less than two points over runner-up and Balclutha shearer Matt Tumohe at Sefton.
Meanwhile, Smith continued on his winning way on a successful day for Hawke's Bay shearers at the Kumeu show, West Auckland, on Saturday.
His narrow win, by just over half-a-point from King Country shearer Mark Grainger, was his 38th in a row in open-class finals in New Zealand.
Napier shearer John Kirkpatrick was third, son-in-law Ricci Stevens won the senior final, and Smith's nephew, Brooke Hamerton, based in Hastings, won the junior final.
The intermediate final was won by Woodville's Daniel Seed, while Tegwyn Bradley, also from the Woodville area, won the Cheviot and Sefton senior finals in the South Island.