The 61st Golden Shears, which were scheduled to be held in Masterton this week, have been cancelled.
The decision was made at an emergency executive meeting this morning, following the overnight announcement of a return to Covid-19 alert level 2 across most of the country and the escalation to level 3 in Auckland.
Confirming the decision, Golden Shears said entry fees and tickets would be refunded.
Tickets purchased online through Eventfinda will be refunded, competitor entries done online will be refunded online through PayPal, and those having entered non-website are being asked to email competitor name and bank account details to email@example.com.
The cancellation means within a few hours two of the biggest events in Wairarapa each year have been called off; the last day of the Wings Over Wairarapa air show today has also been abandoned.
The Golden Shears, with more than 300 competitors entered, were to have been held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the Masterton War Memorial Stadium, where the event has been held every year since 1961.
Golden Shears International Shearing Championships Society president Sam Saunders had said last week his committee had discussed the Covid-19 situation over many months and the view had been that the championships could not go-ahead under level 2 restrictions.
The decision today also considered the impact of a sudden return to level 1, but the decision had to be taken also to minimise financial risk and loss to the organisation, suppliers, competitors and supporters. The Golden Shears has an annual budget of about $250,000 but had already taken steps to reduce costs this year.
Events at Taumarunui and northern Manawatū locality Apiti were held on Friday and Saturday respectively, but the Pahiatua Shears which were due to be held today were cancelled late on Saturday night.
Many of the competitors are already in the region, from as far as Northland and Southland, and including some from overseas, mainly Wales, who have arrived since late December as critical workers under the confines of the Covid-19 managed quarantine isolation provisions.
Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan appreciated the need to cancel and agreed there would have been few if any options once the latest Covid-19 situation was announced on Sunday.
He describes the Golden Shears as "the Olympics", where every competitor will have based their season around getting to the first weekend of March in Masterton.
"Everyone wants to get to the Golden Shears," he said.
It'll be a particularly big blow to Southland shearers Nathan Stratford, Leon Samuels and Brett Roberts and Marlborough gun Angus Moore, who spearhead possibly the strongest southern attack since the last time a South Island shearer won the Golden Shears Open final in 1989.
Samuels won recently at Aria and Stratford on Saturday, the first Open final wins on crossbred or strongwool by South Island shearers in the North Island in over a decade.
Stratford and Moore had both won the national circuit final in Masterton on a combination of sheep types, including long strongwool, finewool, lambs and second-shear.