AN 11-year-old Dannevirke schoolboy took the limelight on the opening morning of the 56th Golden Shears in Masterton yesterday.
Cortez Ostler, described by "nanna" and woolhandling competitor and judge Rose Puha as "like a shows baby," competed in the third heat of the opening event, the novice woolhandling, already with one competition win behind him and determined to emulate uncle Connor Puha, who at the age of 17 is already an open-class woolhandler and a winner of the Golden Shears novice shearing title two years ago.
The youngster, a pupil at Huia Range School in Dannevirke, is one of more than 400 shearers, woolhandlers and woolpressers competing over the three days of the "Goldies" or the "Shears", as they are known among competitors and officials.
Because of his age he was an immediate focus of attention soon after the Shears started at 7.45am, having finished fourth at his first competition, on January 30 at the Taihape A&P Show, and having scored his first win at the Apiti YFC Sports last Saturday.
The youngster, son of Logan Whaitiri and Ashleigh Ostler, was shy and single-worded after his moment in which he had literally one throw of the dice -- or more specifically "fleece."
It was his first full-wool competition, the first where he could test his skills throwing the fleece onto the table.
His own assessment: "Alright."
But Nanna Rose was impressed, saying: "He had just one shot. His fleece was good, he placed it and walked back, it was beautiful placement."
Already a student of the sport's rulebook, the competitive intent was obvious, a strength his nanna says comes from his rugby and now rugby league, where it helps his father is one of the coaches.
Event over, Cortez then had to wait through other heats to see if he would qualify for the final in the afternoon, the first of 19 titles to be decided at this year's Golden Shears.
Alas, of the 27 in the novice woolhandling heats, Cortez Ostler was 10th, missing the cut for the semifinal by two places.
Qualifiers were: Chiara Kirikiri (Masterton), Catherine Mullooly (Matawai), Ronald Eria (Hastings), Dayna Rutene (Masterton), Linton Palmer (Dipton), Cheyenne Walker (Masterton), Ricci Stevens (Napier and Gisborne), Samantha Pritchard (Pongaroa)