Two teenagers who've barely had time to come to grips with the tension and fight of the handpiece have claimed the first of more than 20 titles to be presented at the 58th Golden Shears in Masterton today.
Jacob Maxwell, 18, from a farm near Whakatane, and Kristy Roa, 19, not off a farm but from Hamilton, won the inaugural Golden Shears Life Members Student Shearing Challenge, pitting the newfound skills of cadets from three North Island farm training institutions.
All 10 cadets from the station had competed in Novice or Junior events, said manager Denver Palmer. Roa competed in both shearing and woolhandling.
It wasn't the first win for Waipaoa at the Golden Shears, the Novice shearing final in 2013 having been won by cadet James Alford.
The experience of today's winners may have been slim – Roa said shed'd barely known a ram from a ewe – but they did have a significant trainer in 2006 Golden Shears and national circuit winner and former World lambshearing record holder Dion King, brought in by specialist instructor Bill Hale, of Napier, who has run the station's shearing courses for the 11 years since the cadet training programme has been running.
Shearers shore one sheep each in today's final, in which second place went to Wairarapa institution Taratahi, which has a sheep-handling history with Golden Shears dating back to the beginning of the championships in 1961, and third place went to cadets from Smedley Station in Central Hawke's Bay.
Maxwell reckoned he didn't want to go into the event, but when Roa decided she was in he had little choice.
Making the presentation were two Golden Shears life members Ian Stewart, winner of the first UK Golden Shears Open title more than 50 years ago, and Greg Herrick, a former Golden Shears Open shearing finalist who became president of the Golden Shears society and chairman of the Golden Shears World Council.
Golden Shears Life Members Student Shearing Challenge (1 sheep): Waipaoa Station Cadet Training, Gisborne (Kristy Roa 4min 57.706sec, 25.885pts; Jacob Maxwell 4min 2.717sec, 35.136pts) 161.021pts, 1; Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, Carterton (Hamish Maher 4min 10.814sec, 55.541pts; Kody Kingi 4min 12.753sec, 60.638pts) 116.179pts, 2; Smedley Station Cadet Training, Tikokino (Jack Harley 3min 45.922sec, 42.296pts; Ben Weeks 4min 0.092sec, 77.005pts) 119.301pts, 3.