West Australian shearer Damien Boyle has made the best of a family holiday in New Zealand by winning the NZ Merino Shears open shearing title in Alexandra – for the eighth time in 10 years.

Boyle (42), had previously won New Zealand's only fine wool shearing event in Alexandra six times in a row from 2010-2015 and then again in 2017.

Runner-up was Canterbury-based Southland shearer Troy Pyper, while third was defending champion and multiple New Zealand representative Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill.

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Merino championships start new shearing sports season
Shearing: Western Australia's Boyle makes it 8 out of 10

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Stratford had to settle for third place as Canterbury-based Southland shearer Pyper won a place in the New Zealand team for the 2019-2020 transtasman series, opening with the first leg during the Australian National Championships in Dubbo, NSW, at the end of next month.

Hometown hero Pagan Karauria, in her first competition since winning the World Woolhandling teams title in France in July, successfully defended the NZ Merino Shears open woolhandling title, claiming victory in the event for a fourth time.

Listen to Jamie Mackay's interview with Sir David Fagan about the NZ Merino Shears on The Country:

She showed her class throughout, as top qualifier from the heats and the semi-final.

Runner-up was Amy Lee Ferguson, in her first finals placing since third at Alexandra three years ago.

Both Karauria and Pyper secured places in the New Zealand team for the 2019-2020 home-and-away transtasman series, the first tests of which will be at the Australian national championships in Dubbo, NSW, at the end of next month.

Pagan Karauria in action. Photo / Supplied
Pagan Karauria in action. Photo / Supplied

Meanwhile Boyle, having won a week earlier in Perth, also completed back-to-back international merino wins over NZ Merino Shears pairing Grant Smith and Stacey Te Huia, with Perth Royal Show West Australian teammate Luke Harding.

Boyle's wife Kirsty, 13-year-old daughter Abby and eight-year-old son Zac were there to see the latest wins.

"That made it extra special, to do it in front of the family" he said.

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Despite the demands of holiday making in New Zealand, which included the Interislander Ferry on the way south from the North Island and skiing at Queenstown to come, Boyle still managed to shear possibly more sheep in New Zealand in preparation for Alexandra than in any of his past ventures.

In the spirit of the competition he found his way out to Earnscleugh Station last Thursday and shore more than 50 merinos for contractor Peter Lyons.

He might not have needed them, for Boyle had crossed the Tasman earlier in the week after winning his 23rd Perth show Open title in 24 years.

Novice wool final. Photo / Supplied
Novice wool final. Photo / Supplied

Shearing Magazine publisher and Hamilton-based Southlander Des Williams, who recently published the 100th edition of the magazine which first appeared in 1984, rarely misses the merino championships, with about 24 since watching his first in 1992, but he was as enthused as ever.

He sponsored a novice woolhandling event which he said, showed some promising signs, with seven of the 114 shearers and woolhandlers which competed over the two days of the first of 59 shows on the Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar for the 2019-2020 season.

"There always is a lot of excitement here" he said.

"A lot of younger competitors who've only come into the industry in the last 12 months or so, and for some it's their first show".

Results from the New Zealand Merino Shears at Alexandra on Friday-Saturday, October 4-5, 2019:
Shearing:
International Merino Test (8 sheep): Royal Perth Show 222.4475pts (Damien Boyle 22min 16.63sec, 98.7065pts; Luke Harding 26mi 27.32sec, 123.741pts) beat NZ Merino Shears 223.7345pts (Stacey Te Huia 24min 5.19sec, 109.3845pts; Grant Smith 22min 7sec, 114.35pts) by 1.287pts.

Transtasman Invitation International (4 sheep): New Zealand 190.43pts (Dion Morrell 10min 2.85sec, 60.1425pts; Nathan Stratford 11min 51.87sec, 61.8345pts; Stacey Te Huia 10min 48.88sec, 68.444pts) beat Australia 228.385pts (Damien Boyle 9min 45.81sec, 55.2905pts; Luke Harding 13min 9.81sec, 85.4905pts; Lee Harris 11min 37.09sec, 87.6045pts) by 37.955pts.

Open final (12 sheep): Damien Boyle (Tambellup, WA) 25min 44.28sec, 101.3907pts, 1; Troy Pyper (Invercargill) 22min 45.88sec, 104.1273pts, 2; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 27min 0.78sec, 106.8723pts, 83; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 26min 50.91sec, 107.9621pts, 4; Dion Morrell (Alexandra) 24min 51.53sec, 120.7432pts, 5; Stacey Te Huia (Te Kuiti) 24min 27.96sec, 1382313pts, 6.

Senior final (4 sheep): Duncan Higgins (Havelock) 13min 2.41sec, 80.1204pts, 1; Ruka Braddick (Eketahuna) 14min 0.81sec, 81.0405pts, 2; Duncan Leslie (Owaka) 13min 2.44sec, 81.372pts, 3; Hori Rata (Raglan) 12min 46.75sec, 83.5875pts, 4; Stacey Whitu (Roxburgh) 13min 23.94sec, 83.697pts, 5; Mitchell Menzies (Ranfurly) 15min11.97sec, 83.8485pts, 6.

Woolhandling:
Open final: Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 110.106pts, 1; Amy Lee Ferguson (Alexandra) 163.95pts, 2; Candy Hiri (Gore) 173.388pts, 3; Chelsea Collier (Gore) 221.208pts, 4.

Senior final: Aiesha Thompson (Napier) 132.97pts, 1; Destiny Paikea (Heriot) 182.82pts, 2; Whati Mikaere Turipa (Tolaga Bay) 216.438pts, 3; Darryl Harrison (Dannevirke) 243.944pts, 4.

Junior final: Cheyenne Howden(Feilding) 145.044pts, 1; Sunnie Te Whare (Ohai) 163.292pts, 2; Amber Poihipi (Ohai) 181.88pts, 3; Pricilla Albert (Rotoiti) 200.2pts, 4.

Novice: Shahui Whitu (-) 102.16pts, 1; Pukemarama Hau (-) 111.706pts, 2; Tamihana Karauria (Alexandra) 119.644prs, 3; Hori Rata (Raglan) 127.75pts, 4.

Shearing and Woolhandling Teams: Mouse O'Neill (Mouse O'Neill, Stacey Te Huia, Janine O'Neill, Atiria Te Huia), 236.275pts, 1; Mahi Life (Mike Ferguson, Cam Ferguson, Amy Ferguson, Kahlo Tuuta) 292.828pts, 2; Perfect Rhythm (Dion Morrell, John Kirkpatrick, Pagan Karauria, Foonie Waihape), 315.028pts, 3.