It's been a big night for the south at the opening shearing sports competition of the season with two dream wins at the New Zealand Merino Championships in Alexandra.

Home-town heroine Pagan Karauria won the open woolhandling title for a third time in four years, capping a weekend when she was presented with her Master Woolhandler award, and Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford won the open shearing final, for a fourth time.

Karauria had won the woolhandling merino final previously in 2015 and 2016 and was runner-up last year to world champion Joel Henare, while Stratford has shorn the shearing final 15 times, winning previously in 2008, 2009 and 2016.

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In Saturday's final he finished almost two sheep behind defending champion Damien Boyle, of West Australia, but produced the better quality points.

Stratford also helped a NZ Merino Shears team to a win over Boyle's Royal Perth Show team in a transtasman merino match.

Another feature of the championships on Friday and Saturday was the inaugural presentation of the Murray McSkimming Memorial trophy for outstanding contribution to merino shearing. It was awarded to Karauria's father, champion shearer and now Merino Championships president Dion Morrell.

Results from the New Zealand Merino shearing and woolhandling championships at Alexandra on Friday and Saturday September 28-29, 2018:
Shearing:

Open final: Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 103.1167pts, 1; Damien Boyle (Tangerup, West Australia) 103.1485pts, 2; Grant Smith (Rakaia) 110.564pts, 3; Stacey Te Huia (Forbes NSW/Te Kuiti) 111.463pts, 4; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 120.211pts, 5; Colin O'Neill (Alexandra) 120.216pts, 6.

Senior final: Mitchell Murray (Amberley) 79.447pts, 1; Scott Cameron (Alexandra) 90.961pts, 2; Duncan Leslie (Owaka) 92.1575pts, 3; Alex Smith (Rakaia) 96.9215pts, 4 Duncan Higgins (Havelock) 107.2125pts, 5; Lionel Taumata (Gore/Taumarunui) 114.5345pts, 6.

Woolhandling:

Open final: Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 152.832pts, 1; Joel Henare (Motueka) 184.694pts, 2; Chelsea Collier (Gore) 186.662pts, 3; Kelly Macdonald (Lake Hawea) 217.75pts, 4.

Senior final: Linda Duncan (Alexandra) 179.7pts, 1; Chenelle Waihape (Mataura) 260.5pts, 2; Aiesha Thompson (Napier) 271.332pts, 3; Rangitai Wainohu (-) 280.708pts, 4.

Junior final: Amberlee Kahukura (Omakau) 138.794pts, 1; Sunni Te Whare Ohai) 173.788pts, 2; Cheyenne Howden (Feilding) 230.97pts, 3; Sarah Davis (Napier) 294.026pts, 4.