The shearing competition season in Northland got off to a cracker start when some of the top names battled for thousands of dollars in prize money at the Mangawhai Tavern Speedshear on Saturday.

Top honours went to Hawke's Bay shearer, former world lambshearing record holder and Golden Shears champion Dion King, who still managed to blitz the field and claim the open class first prize of $5000 with a quickest time in the final of 19.42 seconds, almost three seconds faster than regular speedshears high-flyer Paerata Abraham, of Masterton.

King is best known for his 2007 record of 866 lambs in nine hours, a record broken two years ago by Irish shearer Ivan Scott.

King also won the 2006 Golden Shears open final, and has claim to the fastest time ever recorded for a single lamb in a speedshear.

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The senior final, with a first prize of $1000, was won by Rangipa Chase, from Taumarunui, with a quickest time of 26.62s, more than three seconds faster than runner-up Fraser Quinlivan, from Central Hawke's Bay, and the best local was Whetu Henderson, of Kaiwaka.

Almost $11,000 worth of prizes was at stake, and the event, organised by shearer Phil Wedd, from Hawke's Bay but now based at Mangawhai, attracted about 45 entries.

Wedd, who also reached the open final, was confident the event will be held again next year.

The show competition season in Northland starts at Kaikohe on January 19.

Mangawhai Tavern Speedshear results were:

Open: Dion King (Flaxmere) 19.42s, 1; Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 22.38s, 2; Digger Balme (Te Kuiti) 23.22s, 3; Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 24.12s, 4; Phil Wedd (Mangawhai) 27s, 5; Whetu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 28.34s, 6.

Senior: Rangipa Chase (Taumarunui) 26.62s, 1; Fraser Quinlivan (Central Hawke's Bay) 29.74s, 2; Williame Tahene (-) 34.74s, 3; Scott Innes (-) 43.58s, 4.
Local: Whetu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 27.12s, 1; Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 28.82s, 2; Tama Ngahona (-) 33.66s, 3. ■