Kumeroa's national title

By Iain Hyndman

Wanganui's six-time world woolhandling champion Joanne Kumeroa now has a national teams title to add to her large trophy cabinet.

Kumeroa, now Australian-based, claimed the Team of the Year title with Joel Henare (Gisborne) at the national Maori Sports Awards in Auckland last Saturday.

Kumeroa (Te Ati Haunui-a-Paparangi) and Henare (Ngati Porou) are the current world woolhandling team champions after winning at the 15th World Championships during the Golden Shears in Masterton last March.

Kumeroa has been a major force in woolhandling circles since the early 1990s and has a record number of victories in several of New Zealand's main events, including six in the Golden Shears Open in 1995, 2001, 2004 and the last three consecutively, and six in the New Zealand Open Championship in Te Kuiti between 1992 and 2007.

This year's World Championships were the first for Henare, who, now aged 21, has one New Zealand Open Championship title to his name, in 2010, and has also had five successive victories in the Woolhandler of the Year final at the Otago Championships in Balclutha.

To win the award on Saturday, Kumeroa and Henare had to overcome the claims of World champion shearers and Hawke's Bay and Ngati Kahungunu sports awards Team of the Year winners Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa, and John Kirkpatrick, of Napier.

It was speculated their first and second placings in the Individual event gave them the nod over the shearers, who were second and third to Taranaki farmer and Scottish shearer Gavin Mutch in the Individual shearing final.

Kumeroa also has a teams title win in Norway in 2008 to her credit.

Woolhandling has been contested as a sport in New Zealand for many years, with events having been held at A and P Shows more than 50 years ago.

A woolhandling contest was held at the first Golden Shears in Masterton in 1961.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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