The cancellation of the Golden Shears has shattered Southland shearers' hopes for a first South Island win the open shearing final in 32 years.
No South Island shearer has won the Golden Shears open final since Edsel Forde's triumph in 1989.
The Southland shearers who loomed as the biggest hopes for the win were returning home "gutted" after being stripped of the opportunity by Covid 19 alert level changes.
The end of the dream for 2021 came yesterday when the 61st Golden Shears were cancelled after Saturday night's announcement of a Covid-19 Level 2 alert throughout the country, escalated to Level 3 in Auckland.
Waiting at the airport on Sunday afternoon, Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels said they were all "gutted" about the cancellation.
However, he remained hopeful for future competitions.
"It is what it is. Let's hope the New Zealand champs go ahead."
Marlborough shearer Angus Moore said he had been working to a plan to peak at Golden Shears, but he also kept an open mind about the future.
"Oh well, that's what happens sometimes," he said.
Weekend shearing round up
Three shearing events took place over the weekend before the announcement was made - the Taumarunui Shears, the Apiti Shears and the Kaikoura A and P Show Shears.
At the Apiti Show in Manawatu on Saturday, Invercargill shearers Nathan Stratford and Leon Samuels, along with Brett Roberts of Mataura, underpinned their Golden Shears prospects by finishing first, third and fourth respectively in a six-man final over 20 sheep each.
Stratford, along with other South Island shearers had won the National Circuit title at the Golden Shears over the years, in a final made-up of five wool types including the fine wool merino, common to much of the shearing in Central Otago.
When Samuels won the Aria Waitangi Sports open final three weeks earlier, he became the first South Island shearer to win an open final on the predominant crossbred and strong wool types in more than a decade.
Stratford and Samuels were runner-up to seven-times Golden Shears open winner and Hawke's Bay shearer Rowland Smith in last year's final.
Meanwhile, Roberts was a strong candidate to reach the open final for the first time – a goal he said was the focus of his entire season's shearing each year.
Roberts had Golden Shears wins in the junior and senior grades behind him and two show wins this summer.
The South Island had a fourth strong Golden Shears final hope, in defending circuit champion and Marlborough shearer Angus Moore, who won the open final at the Kaikoura A and P Show on Saturday.
All are now lining-up the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti on April 8-10, where the open final has not been won by a South Island shearer since the 1990s.
The other weekend open shearing winner was Wairarapa farmer David Buick, who won at the Taumarunui Shears on Friday.
Buick would have been shearing at the 50th anniversary Pahiatua Shears on Sunday, the final qualifying round in this year's national circuit, but it was cancelled - along with the Wairarapa Pre-Shears Woolhandling Championships which would have been held at Mikimiki, north of Masterton, on Wednesday.
In the true spirit of shearing, Buick had hosted Stratford for the weekend on his farm near Pongaroa - even though they would have been fierce rivals vying for their first Golden Shears open title a few days later.
Uniquely, 10 different shearers were among the 12 place getters in the Taumarunui and Apiti finals.
This was a sign of the toughness and quality of the shearers lining-up this year to try to end the run of Rowland Smith, who was a rare fourth at Taumarunui and who did not compete at Apiti.
Only Roberts and Northland shearer Toa Henderson shore in both finals.
Meanwhile Gisborne's Joel Henare won the Taumarunui open woolhandling title, which was decided on the semi-final outcome - due to the cancellation of the final.
Henare would have been the hot favourite for a ninth successive Golden Shears open title, but on Saturday he was runner-up at Apiti, beaten in what was an emotional win for Napier's woolhandler Angela Stevens.
It was only Stevens' second open final win, at the venue where she first competed, under the guidance of Aunt and mentor Ronnie Goss, who died on Friday at Taumarunui.
Taihape's Sheree Alabaster, and Te Kuiti's Keryn Herbert each had top four placings on Friday and Saturday.
The pair won a world title together in Wales in 2010, but had never won the Golden Shears title due to the annual shut-outs by Henare.
The only competitor to win on both days was Napier-based senior woolhandler Jasmin Tipoki.
Listen to Rowena Duncum interview Sir David Fagan about the Golden Shears on The Country below:
Meanwhile, Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan was rapt to hear of a good turnout at the Kaikoura Shears, where there were 21 competitors, including 10 in the open class.
Shearing had been cancelled at Kaikoura last year because of difficulties sourcing suitable sheep. The show had also been cancelled in 2017 because of the earthquake three months earlier, and was hit hard by heavy rain in 2018.
Fagan said it had been a great credit to those involved in getting the show and the shearing running again, with competition entry numbers "on a roll" throughout much of the country, until the Golden Shears cancellation.
Results of the three weekend shearing sports competitions
Taumarunui Shears on Friday, February 26, 2021:
Open final (20 sheep); David Buick (Pongaroa) 16min 9.48sec, 56.624pts, 1; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Dannevirke) 15min 56.91sec, 57.196pts, 2; Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 17min 5.23sec, 60.962pts, 3; Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 17min 3.31sec, 61.266pts, 4; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 17min 30.23sec, 63.062pts, 5; Digger Balme (Otorohanga) 15min 34.88sec, 65.844pts, 6.
Senior final (10 sheep): Brook Hamerton (Hastings) 10min 16.7sec, 40.635pts, 1;Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 10min 13.68sec,42.484pts, 2; Jayden Mainland (Wellsford) 10min 47.79sec, 44.39pts, 3; Kyle Mita (Masterton) 11min 13.99sec, 44.4pts, 4; Tama Nahona (Kaiwaka) 11min 9.04sec, 44.552pts, 5; Paul Swann (Wairoa) 12min 0.73sec, 47.337pts, 6.
Intermediate final (5 sheep): John Cherrington (Huntly) 7min 9.79sec, 29.09pts, 1; Adam Gordon (Masterton) 8min 0.21sec, 29.611pts, 2; Joseph Gordon (Masterton) 6min 49.24sec, 30.262pts, 3; Topia Barrowcliff (Piopio) 7min 37.96sec, 30.498pts, 4; Aled Evans (Wales) 7min 12sec, 31.006pts, 5; Manahi Kamura (Piopio) 7min 51.59sec, 34.78pts, 6.
Junior final (4 sheep): Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 7min 38.29sec, 27.665pts, 1; Destiny Paikea (Heriot) 7min 10.72sec, 27.786pts, 2; Reuben King (Ongaonga/Rangiora) 7min 33.46sec, 30.423pts, 3; Keahrey Manson (Piopio) 7min 33.57sec, 32.179pts, 4; James Noble-Campbell (Pukekawa) 8min 9.99sec, 36.75pts, 5; Henry Stewart (Feilding) 8min 40.03sec, 38.502pts, 6.
Open (semi-final declared as final): Joel Henare (Gisborne) 21.094pts, 1; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 24.27pts, 2; Sheree Alabaster (Taihape) 35.82pts, 3; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 36.706pts, 4; Lucky Garret (Eketahuna) 45.49pts, 5.
Senior (semifinal declared as final): Jasmin Tipoki (Napier) 44.7pts, 1; Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui) 49.22pts, 2; Summer Pritchard (Pongaroa) 57.492pts, 3; Crystal Braddick (Eketahuna) 59.09pts, 4; Azuredee Paku (Masterton) 61.72pts, 5.
Junior final: Amy Bell (Weber) 63.532pts, 1; Rahera Kerr (Hautupu) 78.662, 2; Shontaye Walker (Whanganui) 95.968pts, 3; Tre Ratana Sciascia (-) 96.87pts, 4; Te Whetu Brown (Wairoa) 97.47pts, 5.
Apiti Shears on Saturday, February 27, 2021:
Open final (20 sheep): Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 19min 47sec, 66.3pts, 1; Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 19min 3sec, 67.55pts, 2; Leon Samuels (Invercargill) 19min 7sec, 68.45pts, 3; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 19min 31sec, 69.65pts, 4; Aaron Haynes (Feilding) 20min 12sec, 70.5pts, 5; James Ruki (Te Kuiti) 21min 22sec, 75.3pts, 6.
Open Novice Plate (10 sheep): Hemi Braddick (Eketahuna) 9min 28sec, 36.4pts, 1; Darren Alexander (Havelock North) 10min 31sec, 40.95pts, 2; Matene Mason (Masterton) 10min 34sec, 42.2pts, 3; David Gordon (Masterton) 10min 13sec, 42.35pts, 4; Ethan Pankhurst (Masterton) 9min 57sec, 42.75pts, 5; Ricci Stevens (Napier) 10min 35sec, 43.85pts, 6.
Senior final (10 sheep): Chris Dickson (Masterton) 10min 27sec, 43.05pts, 1; Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 10min 47sec, 45.05pts, 2; Jayden Mainland (Wellsford) 11min 16sec, 46.2pts, 3; Brook Hamerton (Hastings) 11min 36sec, 47.2pts, 4; Gethin Lewis (Wales) 11min 23sec, 48.55pts, 5; Brayden Clifford (Waikaka) 12min 8sec, 49.1pts, 6.
Intermediate final (6 sheep): Aled Evans (Wales) 8min 3sec, 33.4833pts, 1; Adam Gordon (Masterton) 8min 22sec, 34.4333pts, 2; Topia Barrowcliff (Piopio) 8min 27sec, 35.0167pts, 3; Ellis Rees (Wales) 8min 19sec, 37.7833pts, 4; John Cherrington (Huntly) 8min 24sec, 39.8667pts, 5; Dafydd Roberts (Wales) 9min 45sec, 44.25pts, 6.
Junior final (4 sheep): Reuben King (Ongaonga/Rangiora) 6min 40sec, 29.5pts, 1; Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 7min 29sec, 30.95pts, 2; Destiny Paikea (Heriot) 8min 34sec, 33.2pts, 3; Michael Buick (Pongaroa) 8min 58sec, 34.65pts, 4; James Noble-Campbell (Pukekawa) 9min 22sec, 37.1pts, 5; Henry Stewart (Feilding) 8min, 41pts, 6.
Novice final (2 sheep): Cameron Artz (-) 7min 35sec, 37.75pts, 1; Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 7min 56sec, 38.3pts, 2; Sam Mathewson (Martinborough) 9min 3sec, 39.65pts, 3; Sean Fagan (Te Kuiti) 7min 38sec, 39.9pts, 4; Lucky Garrett (Eketahuna) 9min 9sec, 43.95pt, 5; Zac Doolan (Taihape) 8min 26sec, 47.3pts, 6.
Veterans (2 sheep): John Hand 3min 17sec, 18.85pts, 1; Blair McCarroll 2min 51sec, 19.55pts, 2; Russell Knight 3min 11sec, 23.05pts, 3; Graeme Roadley 3min 52sec, 23.1pts, 4; Chris Drew 3min 22sec, 28.6pts, 5; Ross Jarvis 3min 3sec, 30.15pts, 6.
Open final: Angela Stevens (Napier) 72.75pts, 1; Joel Henare (Gisborne) 79.12pts, 2; Sheree Alabaster (Taihape) 100.906pts, 3; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 109.06pts, 4.
Senior final: Jasmin Tipoki (Napier) 56.794pts, 1; Chrystal Braddick (Eketahuna) 61.5pts, 2; Destiny Paikea (Heriot) 77.66pts, 3; Azuredee Paku (Masterton) 92.76pts, 4.
Junior final: Tre Ratana-Sciascia (-) 45.06pts, 1; Shontaye Walker (Whanganui) 61.69pts, 2; Rahera Kerr (Haurupu) 65.54pts, 3; Topia Barrowcliff (Piopio) 70.12pts, 4.
Novice final: Waimarama Armstrong (-) 61.45pts, 1; Grace Duffy (-) 62.808pts, 2; Lekisha Ruki (Te Kuiti) 62.888pts, 3; Fleur Alabaster (Taihape) 64.85pts, 4.
Kaikoura A and P Show Shears on Saturday, February 27, 2021:
Open final (10 sheep): Angus Moore (Seddon) 8min 50.66sec, 35.83pts, 1; Hugh De Lacy (Rangiora) 9min 0.54sec, 36.23pts, 2; Travers Baigent (Wakefield) 9min 14.18sec, 41.31pts, 3.
Senior final (8 sheep): Isaac Duckmanton (Christchurch) 9min 38.34sec, 38.92pts, 1; Josh Quinn 10min 37.38sec, 47.12pts, 2; Sam Thomson (Cheviot) 10min 0.84sec, 49.17pts, 3.
Intermediate final (4 sheep): Ben Forrester (Rangiora) 6min 6.31sec, 24.82pts, 1; Chas Rattray (Ashburton) 6min 8.4sec, 28.17pts, 2; Alice Watson (Blenheim) 6min 19.06sec, 29.2pts, 3.
Junior (3 sheep): Beau Cameron 5min 26.66sec, 43pts, 1.