Shearing competition celebrates 50 years

By staff reporter, Doug Laing

Ninety-two shearers and 37 wool handlers took part in the 50th annual Rangitikei Shearing Sports event in Marton over the weekend.

Event spokeswoman Marj Martyn said the competition, which doubles as the North Island Shearing Championships, went off without a hitch at Marton Memorial Hall on Saturday.

Hastings-based shearer Rowland Smith, 26, made another giant leap toward his first Golden Shears open title by making the exciting 20-sheep open final at Marton his fourth win out of six events in a fortnight. This was his first competition since his honeymoon with wife, and record-holding woman shearer, Ingrid Baynes.

Meanwhile, Kimbolton farmer Ronnie Goss, 44, won the open wool-handling final - a "shock", she reckoned, after beating former world wool-handling team champions Keryn Herbert, of Te Awamutu, and Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape, in a six-person showdown. Mrs Martyn said organisers put on two "extras" at this year's competition: the Farmlands Farmer's Challenge, open to those who had not shorn sheep for at least five years, and a veterans' shear. The latter involved three men - Jim Norris, Tom Martyn and George Death - who were part of the first Rangitikei Shearing Sports event in 1963 and had to shear a lamb.

Mrs Martyn said shearing was a dying skill, with so many farms making the conversion to dairy.

Securing sponsorship was getting tougher, too.

Still, the judges who attended the event told her it had been one of the best competitions they had adjudicated so far this season.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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