Northland shearer Toa Henderson emerged as a new northern Golden Shears open shearing final hope with an emotional win and two major placings in the weekend countdown to the 60th annual championships starting in Masterton on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old from Kaiwaka won the Apiti Sports Shears Open final on Saturday, immediately dedicating the win to son Tahi, who died, aged 18 months, when struck by a vehicle in Southland shearing town Mataura on December 21.
With just three Open wins beforehand, the victory was sandwiched by a fourth placing at Friday's Taumarunui Shears and third on Sunday at the Pahiatua Shears, events both won by defending multiple Golden Shears champion and Hawke's Bay shearer Rowland Smith, who also grew-up in Northland, and who now has 161 Open wins to his name.
Henderson had come close to a boyhood dream of a Golden Shears win when runner-up to brother Tahi in the 2008 Senior final, after which he left New Zealand to shear in West Australia.
He returned to win at Warkworth last March, and started planning for a mid-2020 World record bid in Australia – plans for which were ultimately shelved after the tragedy which hit himself, partner Phoebe and the family 10 weeks ago.
One day he was shearing, the next he "could't move," he recalled, but with the support of Phoebe he was back on the competition board winning a North Kaipara show title at Paparoa on February 1, and the Northern Wairoa show's title at Arapohue a week later.
His trip south for the "miles" he regards as a must for any serious Golden Shears contender reaped rewards he's never dreamed of so early on what he regarded as the start of a path towards claiming the big one sometime in the future.
In the space of two days he'd catapulted from hopes of being among the one-in-three to make their from the almost 90 in the Golden Shears heat to make the Golden Shears Top 30 quarterfinal shootout next Friday, to becoming a genuine chance for a place in the six-man final 24 hours later.
"I'm over the moon," he said after the Pahiatua final. "I'm rapt."
Smith was not in the field of 43 on Saturday when Henderson emerged from sixth-best in the heats and second-best in the semi-finals to make what was still a high-quality top six, including four who have been Golden Shears Open finalists.
With a record of 70 Open-final wins, Southland shearer and 2019 Golden Shears runner-up Nathan Stratford and Stand 3 was the man to beat, with the other five mustering less than 10 wins between them.'
But it was Henderson, on Stand 2, and reigning PGG Wrightson Nstional Circuit champion Paerata Abraham, of Masterton, on Stand 1, who created the spectacle.
Shearing the 20 second-shear sheep in 18mins-flat, Abraham beat Henderson to the finish by 15 seconds. With the Wairarapa shearer sacrificing some quality the result came down to whether Henderson had done a clean enough job to hold-out Southland gun Stratford, who two weeks earlier had scored a rare win over Smith in the Southern Shears Open final in Gore.
Henderson got the nod by 0.65pts from Stratford, with third place going to former Golden Shears Open runner-up Aaron Haynes, from Feilding.
On Sunday, with Smith, Stratford and Wairarapa shearer David Buick claiming a combined total of about 250 wins compared with six of the other three in the showdown, it was again Henderson throwing out the challenges, ultimately beaten by just 0.55sec as Smith finished first in 17min 19.84sec.
Buick, next off, kept up enough quality to sneak into secondp place overall. ue Show a week later.
Meanwhile, another hope for the Golden Shears Open woolhandling title emerged when Napier shearer and woolhandler Ricci Stevens had his first Open woolhandling at Taumarunui on Friday.
It was the first of two weekend defeats for Gisborne's Joel Henare, this week chasinhg an eighth Golden Shears Open woolhandling title in a row but at the weekend having to be cobtent with second placings at both Taumarunui and,, to multiple New Zealand Shears Open champion and Taihape woolhandler Sheree Alabaster, at Apiti.
Also among the weekend's placegetters in both woolhandling finals was Stevens' wife, Angela Stevens, who was third at Taumarunui and fourth at Apiti.
Mangamahu shearer Simon Goss won the Apiti and Pahiatua Senior shearing titles, and missed a third for the weekend by being beaten by Eketahuina shearer Ruka Bradick by just 0.22pts at Taumarunui.
Results from the Pahiatua Shears on Sunday, March 1, 2020:
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 17min 19.84sec, 58.192pts, 1; David Buick (Pongaroa) 17min 30.28sec, 59.414pts, 2; Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 17min 20.39sec, 62.02pts, 3; Aaron Haynes (Feildin) 18min 37.89sec, 62.545pts, 4; Nathan Stratford Invercargill) 18min 56.79sec, 64.84pts, 5; Hemi Braddick (Eketahuna) 19min 18.15sec, 68.008pts, 6.
Senior final (10 sheep): Simon Goss (Mangamahu) 10min 48.28sec, 41.314pts, 1; Kyle Mita (Masterton) 10min 29.72sec, 42.086pts, 2; Jayden Mainland (Wellsford) 10min 47.4sec, 44.17pts, 3; Chris Dickson (Masterton) 10min 23.34sec, 44.267pts, 4; Brandon Maguire Ratima (Witnon) 11min 29.75sec, 44.488pts, 5; Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 11min 47.82sec, 47.091pts, 6.
Intermediate final (6 sheep): Leam Pritchard (Pongaroa) 7min 45.54sec, 30.444pts, 1; Cory Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 7min 54.88sec, 33.077pts, 2; Daniel Biggs (Mangamahu) 8min 23.72sec, 33.519pts, 3; Joseph Gordon (Masterton) 8min 21.85sec, 33.759pts, 4; Phil Price (Wales) 8min 10.1sec, 36.672pts, 5; Keith Swann (Wairoa) 8min 6.14sec, 36.974pts, 6.
Junior final (5 sheep): Destiny Paikea (Heriot) 9min 7.33sec, 34.167pts, 1; Sam Jones (Wales) 8min 42.72sec, 35.736pts, 2; Ellis Rees (Wales) 7min 42.63sec, 35.932pts, 3; Adam Gordon (Masterton) 9min 28.64sec, 39.032pts, 4; Keahrey Manson (Piopio) 9min 53.03sec, 39.052pts, 5; Alice Watson (Blenheim) 11min 25.25sec, 41.663pts, 6.
Novice final (1 sheep): Maureen Chaffey (Maraekakaho) 2min 59.82sec, 15.991pts, 1; Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 3min 46.51sec, 18.326pts, 2; Lucky Garrett (Eketahuna) 4min 56.98sec, 30.849pts, 3; Josh Devane (Taihape) 4min 22.87sec, 35.144pts, 4; Tyron Oliver (Eketahuna) 4min 18.69sec, 36.935pts, 5; Haeora King (Matawai) 4min 12.32sec, 40.616pts, 6.
Results from the Apiti Sports Shears at Apiti on Saturday, February 29, 2020:
Open final (20 sheep): Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 18min 15sec, 68pts, 1; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 19min 18sec, 68.65pts, 2; Aaron Haynes (Feilding) 19min 9sec, 70.1pts, 3; Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 18mins, 70.6pts, 4; David Gordon (Masterton) 19min 29sec, 70.8pts, 5; Murray Henderson (Halcombe) 29min 50sec, 74.6pts, 6.
Open Plate (8 sheep): Ethan Pankhurst (Masterton) 8min 39sec, 39.2pts, 1; James Ruki (Te Kuiti) 9min 23sec, 39.275pts, 2; Jimmy Samuels (Marton) 7min 59sec, 39.7pts, 3; Turi Eedmonds (Raetihi) 8min 7sec, 39.85pts, 4; Jacob Moore (Marton) 9min 6sec, 40.3pts, 5; Ricci Stevens (Napier) 9min 1sec,54.175pts, 6.
Senior final (10 sheep): Simon Goss (Mangamahu) 10min 48sec, 40.1pts, 1; Ruka Braddick (Eketahuna) 11min 33sec, 46.85pts, 2; Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 12min 9sec, 48.05pts, 3; Kyle Mita (Masterton) 12min 5sec, 49.05pts,4; Laura Bradley (Woodville) 12min 46sec, 50.7pts, 5; Paora Moanaroa (Eketahuna) 10min 58sec, 51.5pts, 6.
Intermediate final (6 sheep): Daniel Biggs (Mangamahu) 9min 10sec, 34.1667pts, 1; Leam Pritchard (Pongaroa) 8min 46sec, 35.3pts, 2; Keith Swann (Wairoa) 9min 6sec, 40.4667pts, 3; Joseph Gordon (Masterton) 11min 10sec, 41.3333pts, 4; Forde Alexander (Whanganui) 8min 48sec, 43.4pts, 5; Cory Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 9min 47sec, 44.35pts, 6.
Junor final (4 sheep): Ellis Rees (Wales) 6min 47sec, 31.1pts, 1; Adam Gordon (Masterton) 7min 1sec, 32.05pts, 2; Rameka Thwaites (Feilding) 7min 20sec, 33pts, 3; Derek Houpapa (Taumarunui) 7min 2sec, 36.85pts, 4; Destiny Paikea (Heriot) 10min 4sec, 40.45pts, 5; Tini Papanui (-) 7min 40sec, 44.5pts, 6.
Novice final (2 sheep): Michael Buick (Pongaroa) 8min 16sec, 33.8pts, 1; Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 9min 3sec, 35.15pts, 2; Josh Devane (Taihape) 8min 31sec, 35.55pts, 3; Connor McIntyre (Dannevirke) 7min 48sec, 35.9pts, 4; Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 8min 47sec, 39.85pts, 5; Maureen Chaffey (Maraekakaho) 8min 38sec, 42.4pts, 6.
Open final: Sheree Alabaster (Taihape) 42.806pts, 1; Joel Henare (Gisborne) 61.142pts, 2; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 65.932pts, 3; Angela Stevens (Napier) 73.37pts, 4.
Senior final: Lucky Garrett (Eketahuna) 66.87pts, 1; Tyler Hira (Onewhero) 69.03pts, 2; Azuredee Paku (Masterton) 82.344pts, 3; Bianca Hawea (Masterton) 101.22pts, 4.
Junior final: Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui) 47.12pts, 1; Shayla Karaitiana (Masterton) 54.63pts, 2; Joseph Gordon (Masterton) 75.97pts, 3; Jono Hicks (Marton) 78.43pts, 4.
Novice: Shontaye Walker (Feilding) 36.264pts, 1; Laura Bradley (Woodville) 41pts, 2; Eleri Bradley (Woodville) 44.72pts, 3; Tyrone Oliver (Palmerston North) 46.16pts, 4.
North Island Circuit Senior final: Azuredee Paku (Masterton) 57.15pts, 1; Lucas Beoughton (Gisborne) 63.19pts, 2; Bianca Hawea (Masterton) 72.97pts, 3; Tramon Campbell (Gisborne) 83.87pts, 4.
North Island Circuit Junior final: Amy Bell (Weber) 66.47pts, 1; Te Anna Phillips (Tauarunui) 76.06pts, 2; Anne Cannell (Gisborne) 80.09pts, 3; Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui) 81.04pts, 4,
Results from the Taumarunui Shears on Friday, February 28, 2020:
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 17min 6.72sec, 58.936pts, 1; Mark Grainger (Te Kuiti) 17min 32.64sec, 60.2332pts, 2; John Kirkpatrick (Pakipaki) 17min 38.08sec, 61.654pts, 3; Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 17min 11.17sec, 62.359pts, 4; Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 17min 53.62sec, 64.381pts, 5; Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 18min 6.75sec, 70.488pts, 6.
Senior final (10 sheep): Ruka Braddick (Eketahuna) 10min 42.13sec, 42.707pts, 1; Simon Goss (Mangamahu) 10min 58.94sec, 42.947pts, 2; Chris Dickson (Eketahuna) 10min 22.36sec, 44.018pts, 3; Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 11min 42.11sec, 44.606pts, 4; Sean Gouk (Masterton) 12min 18.8sec, 49.04pts, 5; Gethin Lewis (Wales) 11min 33.21sec, 49.661pts, 6.
Intermediate final (6 sheep): Daniel Biggs (Mangamahu) 8min 33.16sec, 32.825pts, 1; Cory Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 8min 7.13sec, 36.524pts, 2; Liam Pritchard (Pongaroa) 8min 47.99sec, 37.233pts, 3; Katie Reid (Scotland) 10min 34.6sec, 44.73pts, 4; Matt Hunt (Waikaka) 9min 1.18sec, 48.559pts, 5; Luke Daysh (Eketahuna) 9min 40.72sec, 49.036pts, 6.
Junior final (4 sheep): Adam Gordon (Masterton) 7min 11.65sec, 28.333pts, 1; Clay Harris (Piopio) 7min 35.22sec, 34.011pts, 2; Ellis Rees (Wales) 7min 3.55sec, 35.443pts, 3; Destiny Paikea (Heriot) 9min 15.72sec, 37.336pts, 4; Alice Watson (Blenheim) 9min 57.8sec, 39.14pts, 5; Derek Houpapa (Taumarunui) 7min 51.2sec, 43.81pts, 6.
Open final: Ricci Stevens (Napier) 35.43pts, 1; Joel Henare (Gisborne) 51.914pts, 2; Angela Stevens (Napier) 57.93pts, 3; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 71.356pts, 4; Brittany Tibble (Gisborne) 84pts, 5.
Senior final: Lucky Garrett (Eketahuna) 83.13pts, 1; Tamara Marshall (Port Waikato) 87.01pts, 2; Tramon Campbell (Gisborne) 92.78pts, 3; Jimmy Samuels (Marton) 94.8pts, 4; Crystal Bird (Mangatainoka) 99.72pts, 5.
Junior final: Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 39.06pts, 1; Shyla Karaitiana (Masterton) 42.994pts, 2; Te Whetu Brown (Wairoa) 61.9pts, 3; Sylvia Dickson (Raetihi) 69.85pts, 4; Anne Cannell (Gisborne) 69.96pts, 5.