A once prolific winner on the New Zealand shearing scene has bounced back in Northland for a first victory in more than 11 years, with hope of more to come.
The 28-year-old Toa Henderson, of Kaiwaka, a settlement about 20km north of Wellsford, won the Warkworth show's open final on Saturday, March 16, his first win in the top class and one of barely a handful of shows since finishing runner-up to brother Tane in the 2008 Golden Shears senior final.
It was a different story as a teenager when despite the distance from home he had chased the competitions throughout the North Island with such success that he was clearly marked as one for the future.
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As a junior in the 2005-2006 season he shore 13 finals as far apart as the North Hokianga show at Broadwood and the Golden Shears in Masterton, with two wins and third place on Shearing Sports New Zealand's national junior rankings for the season.
The following season he was the No1 intermediate shearer, winning eight of his 14 finals, and finishing third in a New Zealand championship final in Te Kuiti.
A feature of 2007-2008 was the five times he and his brother were the quinella during a season in which Toa Henderson won six of the 13 finals in which he competed and was runner-up to his brother in the senior rankings.
He shore one more show that season but says: he stopped doing shows after the Golden Shears, doing only about three in the intervening years, two in Australia about 2009 and one last year at North Kaipara's Paparoa A and P Show.
"But I am hoping to get back into next year, as I have moved back to New Zealand," he said, and, asked if that meant chasing the shows as he did in his teens, added: "That's my aim."
His return will be seen as a big boost to a region where shearer numbers have decreased on the same track as the declining number of sheep.
Among those having to look elsewhere are 2014 world champion, and now multiple Golden Shears and New Zealand Open champion Rowland Smith, who grew-up at from Ruawai but has for the last decade been back in Hawke's Bay, where he was born.
Last Saturday Henderson faced a good quality final in which he beat former Golden Shears runner-up and multiple finalist Digger Balme, and former Golden Shears quarter-finalists Phil Wedd and Neville Osborne, both recent winners at shows in Northland.
Henderson beat Osborne by four seconds in the race for fastest time, shearing the eight sheep in 7min 25sec, and had a comfortable winning margin of 2.08pts over runner-up Balme.
RESULTS from Warkworth A and P Show Shears on Saturday, March 16, 2019:
Open final (8 sheep): Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 7min 25sec, 28.39pts, 1; Digger Balme (Otorohanga) 7min 58sec, 30.47pts, 2; Phil Wedd (Silverdale) 7min 48sec, 31pts, 3; Neville Osborne (Tangowahine) 7min 29sec, 31.92pts, 4.
Senior final (4 sheep): Tama Nahona (Whanganui/Kaiwaka) 6min 23sec, 24.15pts, 1; Lee Cheyne (Te Kauwhata) 6min 28sec, 25.65pts, 2; Jayden Mainland (Wellsford) 6min 29sec, 26.45pts, 3; Josef Winders (Winton) 6min 37sec, 29.85pts, 4.
Intermediate final (4 sheep): Alan Boler (Wellsford) 3min 20sec, 16.25pts, 1.
Junior final (3 sheep): Kelvin Welch (Snells Beach) 6min 22sec, 26.44pts, 1; Tommy Stevenson (Tangowahine) 6min 27sec, 26.68pts, 2; Hazel Wood (Ruawai) 7min 5sec, 31.58pts, 3.
Veterans (1 sheep): Kevin Boyd (Dargaville) 1min 45sec, 14.75pts, 1; Barry Jones (Pukekohe) 1min 20sec, 20.25pts, 2; Neil Sidwell (Kaukapakapa) 1min 52sec, 22.35pts, 3; Ralph Smith (Tangowahine) 4.