Former New Zealand Open woolhandling champion Hanatia Tipene barely missed a beat after being eliminated in this year's heats in Te Kuiti yesterday.

Soon after just missing out, being 16th in a field of 24 and just one place from making it to the quarterfinals, she was looking after a group of children in the crowd – her own class from Te Kuiti Primary School.

"I've been training for five years," said Tipene, originally from Porangahau in Southern Hawke's Bay but now well-settled with Welsh partner and shearer Delwyn Jones in Te Kuiti, where they were already well settled when she won her big title in 2013.

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This is her first year teaching, and she was quick to show her excited new flock the qualities of wool as the event from which she had been eliminated progressed through its semi-finals late on the first day of the three-day New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Te Kuiti's Waitomo Cultural and Arts Centre.

The children saw top quality with five of the best performers during the season making Saturday night's final, including world champion and defending titleholder Joel Henare.

Henare hadn't had it all his own way. He was second to host area hope Keryn Herbert, who was top qualifier, and in the quarterfinals where the top qualifier was top South Island hope Pagan Karauria, from Alexandra - who beat Henare in the first Royal Easter Show Open woolhandling final on Sunday.

He also battled in the semi-finals, qualifying for Saturday night's final in fourth place, behind top qualifier Logan Kamura, of Marton, Herbert, and Karauria, and ahead of seven-times winner and 2008 World champion Sheree Alabaster, also now a school teacher.