Worries about low wool prices, a shortage of shearers in the woolshed, and the daily uncertainty of Covid-19 were put aside for the holiday weekend, with big turnouts for three shearing and woolhandling competitions in the central North Island.
First up was the Dannevirke A and P Show shears in Southern Hawke's Bay on Friday, which attracted 99 shearers and 49 woolhandlers.
This was followed by the Aria Waitangi Day Sports in southern King County on Saturday, where entry numbers of 110 shearers and woolhandlers was close to the township's 2018 census population of 129.
Finally entries peaked at Marton with 101 shearers, and 54 woolhandlers, including record novice entries of 19 shearers and 17 woolhandlers.
Competitors travelled from as far as Kaiwaka in Northland and Invercargill in the south.
The unique three days of shearing and woolhandling on successive days at three separate venues in the central North Island became possible after Rangitikei shears organisers gave up their traditional first Saturday of February spot. This was to avoid a clash with the Aria sports, which are always held on Waitangi Day.
The show committee then initiated the Manawatu Knitting Mills (MKM) Mini Circuit, for novice, junior and intermediate shearers, and novice and junior woolhandlers. This event was sponsored by Manawatu Knitting Mills and the top four in each grade across the three shows won a MKM 36.6 wool/possum mix jersey.
It attracted 38 entries at $20 a head for the circuit, in addition to individual show entry costs and three days of travel and accommodation.
"It did exceed expectations. A lot more entries than I thought," committee member and shearer/woolhandler Jimmy Samuels said.
The three days provided plenty of opportunity, with particular highlights for Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels, Masterton woolhandler Samantha Gordon and Northland teenager Hamu Henderson.
Samuels had his first open win in the North Island, by beating a world class lineup at Aria on Saturday.
Samuels leapt into prominence last February, with wins in the Otago Shears and South Island Shearer of the Year finals, before shearing to third place in his first Golden Shears open final.
His win on Saturday was thought to be the first by a South Island shearer in a North Island open class strong wool final since runner-up and Marlborough shearer Angus Moore won at Kaikohe while working in Northland in 2010.
Meanwhile Gordon's triumph in Marton on Sunday was her first open woolhandling win - and one of six wins for Abraham Shearing crew during the weekend.
Gordon's brothers Joseph and Adam won intermediate titles at Dannevirke and Aria respectively, while her workmates Chris Dickson and Kyle Mita won senior titles at Aria and Marton respectively.
Meanwhile, the Gordons' brother-in-law and boss, Paerata Abraham won the Aria Cosmopolitan Club speed shear on Saturday night.
Northland teenager Hamu Henderson won on his 14th birthday at Dannevirke, and again the next day at Aria.
Henderson was the only shearer or woolhandler to win twice - as the 27 titles decided at the three shows were shared among 26 competitors.
Henderson was also one of just to get maximum points in the circuit, based on heats points at the three shows.
Meanwhile, his uncle Toa Henderson, was the only shearer to reach all three open shearing finals.
Shearing Sports New Zealand Chairman Sir David Fagan said the entry numbers reflected a keenness by competitors to enjoy their sport and the fraternity, after losing a third of the calendar's shows in the last 12 months to Covid-19 restrictions.
Entry numbers also illustrated the initiative of the Rangitikei Shearing Sports committee, headed by shearer Jacob Moore, in getting together the MKM circuit for the lower grades with "obvious success," Fagan said.
The shows, (with the Rangitikei open heats incorporating the fourth round of the National Shearing Circuit), were also supported by top South Island shearers Leon Samuels, reigning circuit champion Angus Moore, from Marlborough, and former circuit winner Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill, each of whom were among the nine shearers who made open finals over the three days.
Dannevirke convenor, farmer and 1995 Golden Shears Junior Champion shearer Jane Leogreen said her show attracted 13 more entries than last year.
This was despite the absence of shearers from overseas, whose entry to New Zealand had been limited by Covid-response border controls.
Aria competition convenor and shearing contractor Mark Barrowcliffe said the shows had been an introduction to competition for several from his crews, including nine who loaded up one of the vans and competed at all three venues.
Pongaroa farmer David Buick, hoping to become the first Wairarapa shearer to win the Golden Shears open final, won the Dannevirke open final (his sixth win of the season), while defending seven-times Golden Shears champion Rowland Smith, of Maraekaho won at Marton.
Meanwhile, reigning Golden Shears woolhandling champion Joel Henare, of Gisborne, won the Dannevirke open woolhandling title, but was beaten at Aria by 2019/2020 number one ranked open woolhandler Keryn Herbert, of Te Kuiti.
As well as the three competitions over the weekend there was also the Northern Kaipara A and P Show Shears at Paparoa, and sole South Island Waitangi Day weekend event, the Reefton Shears at the Inangahua A and P Show - both on Saturday.
Results from the Dannevirke A and P Show Shears at Dannevirke on Friday, February 5, 2021:
Open final (20 sheep): David Buick (Pongaroa) 16min 18sec, 54.95pts, 1; Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 16min 10sec, 55.5pts, 2; Aaron Haynes (Feilding) 16min 58sec, 58.55pts, 3; Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 15min 53sec, 58.55pts, 4.
Senior final (10 sheep): Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 11min 30sec, 41.6pts, 1; Chris Dickson (Masterton) 10min 49sec, 42.15pts, 2; Kyle Mita (Masterton) 11min 32sec, 44.1pts, 3; Tama Nahona (Whanganui) 11min 28sec, 44.8pts, 4.
Intermediate final (5 sheep): Joseph Gordon (Masterton) 7min, 29.2pts, 1; Adam Gordon (Masterton) 6min 49sec, 29.45pts, 2; Clay Harris (Piopio) 7min 13sec, 29.85pts, 3; Ellis Rees (Wales) 7min 3sec, 29.95pts, 4.
Junior final (4 sheep): Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 5min 55sec, 23.25pts, 1; Michael Buick (Pongaroa) 6min 19sec, 25.95pts, 2; Finn McKenzie (Wairoa) 6min 37sec, 26.35pts, 3; Josh Devane (Taihape)8min 11sec, 32.8pts, 4.
Novice final (2 sheep): Sam Mathewson (Martinborough) 5min 27sec, 22.35pts, 1; Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 4min 50sec, 25.5pts, 2; Summer Pritchard (Pongaroa) 4min 6sec, 26.3pts, 3; Lily Alabaster (Taihape) 4min 29sec, 26.45pts, 5.
Open final: Joel Henare (Gisborne) 27.2pts, 1; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 33.4pts, 2; Brittany Tibble (Gisborne) 45.9pts, 3.
Senior final: Jimmy Samuels (Marton) 28.7pts, 1; Azuredee Paku (Masterton) 30.4pts, 2; Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui) 38.8pts, 3.
Junior final: Te Whetu Brown (Wairoa) 35.9pts, 1; Amy Bell (Weber) 36pts, 2; Gabrielle Stoney (Dannevirke) 44.2pts, 3.
Novice final: Staci Hikawai (Dannevirke) 21.03pts, 1; Jade Hikawai (Dannevirke) 38.8pts, 2; Jevana Manson (Piopio) 47.8pts, 3.
Results from the North Kaipara A and P Shw Shears at Paparoa on Saturday, February 6, 2021:
Open final: Phil Wedd (Silverdale) 1; Neville Osborne (Dargaville) 2; Whetu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 3; Alan Bramley (Kaeo) 4.
Senior final: Kieren Gillespie 1; Alan Boler (Wellsford) 2; Lee Cheyne (Waiterimu) 3.
Intermediate final: Kelvin Welch (Snells Beach) 1; Rex Finlayson (Kai Iwi Lakes) 2.
Junior final: Gus Berger (Ahuroa) 1; Archer Walton (Tangiteroria) 2; Paul Finlayson (Kai Iwi Lakes) 3.
Novice: Tessa Berger (Ahuroa) 1; Niamh Walton (Tangiteroria) 2.
Results from the Waitangi Day Aria Shearing Sports at Aria on Saturday, February 6, 2021:
Open final (20 sheep): Leon Samuels (Invercargill) 16min 50sec, 57.4pts, 1; Angus Moore (Seddon) 16min 20sec, 57.45pts, 2; Mark Grainger (Te Kuiti) 16min 54sec, 57.6sec, 3; Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 16min 29sec, 61.7pts, 4.
Senior final (10 sheep): Chris Dickson (Masterton) 9min 48sec, 34.9pts, 1; Kyle Mita (Masterton) 9min 55sec, 36.55pts, 2; Ruka Braddick (Eketahuna) 10min 16sec, 38.5pts, 3; Jayden Mainland (Wellsford) 10min 2sec, 39.4pts, 4.
Intermediate final (4 sheep): Adam Gordon (Masterton) 8min 8sec, 31.4pts, 1; Clay Harris (Piopio) 7min 59sec, 35.95pts, 2; Topia Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 7min 38sec, 37.15pts, 3; Tes Paewai (Wales) 8min 26sec, 40.8pts, 4.
Junior final (4 sheep): Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 7min 23sec, 24.9pts, 1; Keahrey Manson (Piopio) 6min 44sec, 25.45pts, 2; Josh Devane (Taihape) 8min 14sec, 30.7pts, 3; Ryka Swann (Wairoa) 8min 2sec, 36.35pts, 4.
Novice final (2 sheep): Sean Fagan (Te Kuiti) 8min 29sec, 37.45pts, 1; Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui)10min 6sec, 39.8pts, 2; Lily Alabaster (Taihape) 8min 43sec, 40.65pts,, 3; Mike Rata (Taumarunui) 8min 8sec, 43.4pts, 4.
Open final: Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 53.83pts, 1; Joel Henare (Gisborne) 66.49pts, 2; Angela Stevens (Napier) 100.386pts, 3.
Senior final: Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui) 87.768pts, 1; Crystal Braddick (Eketahuna) 91.44pts, 2; Azuredee Paku (Masterton) 93.086pts, 3.
Junior final: Topia Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 68.37pts, 1; Rahera Kerr (Hautupu)) 74.19pts, 2; Te Whetu Brown (Wairoa) 76.59pts, 3.
Novice final: Sheena Maru (Marokopa/Piopio) 67.394pts, 1; Rongomai Hepi (Turangi) 71.19pts, 2; Kyle Mita (Masterton) 91.53pts, 3.
Results from the Reefton Shears at the Inangahua A and P Show, Reefton, on Saturday, February 6, 2021:
Open final (20 sheep): Floyd Haare (Ohai) 17min 0.94sec, 64.45pts, 1; Paul Hodges (Geraldine) 17min 11.66sec, 66.53pts, 2; Lyall Windleburn (Rangiora) 16min 51.84sec, 69.74pts, 3; Jotham Rentoul (Wakefield) 20min 14.81sec, 72.64pts, 4.
Open Plate (10 sheep): Nick Nalder (Takaka) 9min 53.63sec, 41.58pts, 1; Dave Brooker (Rangiora) 10min 47.84sec, 41.79pts, 2; Duncan Higgins (Blenheim) 11min 20.38sec, 41.82pts, 3; Chris Jones (Blenheim) 10min 31.44sec, 42.67pts, 4.
Senior final (8 sheep): Taare Edwards (Ashburton) 10min 11.82sec, 39.47pts, 1; Allan Oldfield (Geraldine) 10min 31.94sec, 40.47pts, 2; Hamish Barker (Tapawera) 10min 53.72sec, 50.56pts, 3; Scott McKay (Clarence) 10min 51.5sec, 50.7pts, 4.
Intermediate final (4 sheep): Alice Watson (Blenheim) 7min 16.72sec, 28.34pts, 1; Chase Rattray (Ashburton) 6min 3.25sec, 29.66pts, 2; Ben Forrester (Rangiora) 6min 7.75sec, 33.29pts, 3; Aaron Win (Reefton) 7min 36.56sec, 39.83pts, 4.
Junior final (2 sheep): Timo Hicks (Tapawera) 5min 49.97sec, 28.5pts, 1; Reuben King (Rangiora) 6min 1.4sec, 29.07pts, 2; Rob Clark (Greymouth) 5min 47.37sec, 41.37pts, 3; Jess Tou (Ashburton) 5min 51.31sec, 59.07pts, 4.
Blades final (5 sheep): Allan Oldfield (Geraldine) 13min 23.59sec, 49.78pts, 1; Scott McKay (Clarence) 13min 5sec, 57.65pts, 2; Phil Oldfield (Geraldine) 17min 10.06sec, 59.7pts, 3; Allen Gemmell (Loburn) 16min 29.59sec, 65.48pts, 4.
Classic (6 sheep): Chris Jones (Blenheim) 7min 14.47sec, 32.22pts, 1; Dave Brooker (Rangiora) 6min 27.85sec, 33.56pts, 2; Sam Win (Reefton) 6min 26.69sec, 35.33pts, 3; Frank Bint (Tapawera) 7min 34.31sec, 37.38pts, 4.
Clean shear (2 sheep): Lyall Windleburn (Rangiora) 5.5pts, 1; Chase Rattray (Ashburton) 6pts, 2; Taare Edwards (Ashburton) 7.5pts, 3; Jotham Rentoul (Wakefield) 8pts, 4.
Results from the Rangitikei Shearing Sports North Island Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at Marton on Sunday, February 7, 2021:
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 17min 9.46sec, 59.173pts, 1; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 17min 35.11sec, 60.306pts, 2; Leon Samuels (Invercargill) 17minn 25.45sec, 60.973pts, 3; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Dannevirke) 16min 57.54sec, 61.177pts, 4; Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 17min 22.21sec, 63.211pts, 5; Angus Moore (Seddon) 16min 57.22sec, 63.211pts, 6.
Senior final (12 sheep)): Kyle Mita (Masterton) 13min 4.83sec, 49.158pts, 1; Reuben Alabaster (Taihape) 12min 23.25sec, 50.246pts, 2; Chris Dickson (Masterton) 12min 21.05sec, 50.719pts, 3; Jayden Mainland (Wellsford) 13min 34.27sec, 53.131pts, 4; Tama Nahona (Whanganui) 14min 3.32sec, 53.999pts, 5; Ruka Braddick (Eketahuna) 14min 8.26sec, 54.080pts, 6.
Intermediate final (5 sheep): Ellis Rees (Rhayader, Wales) 6min 52.71sec, 29.236pts, 1; Joseph Gordon (Masterton) 6min 21.51sec, 29.676pts, 2; Adam Gordon (Masterton) 6min 13.54sec, 30.077pts, 3; Clay Harris (Piopio) 6min 39.25sec, 32.763pts, 4;Topi Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 6min 22.77sec, 34.539pts, 5; James O'Reilly (Donegal, Ireland) 6min 58.09sec, 39.505pts, 6.
Junior final (4 sheep): Michael Buick (Pongaroa) 8min 23.83sec, 34.442pts, 1; James Noble Campbell (Pukekawa) 8min 38.44sec, 36.922pts, 2; Josh Devane (Taihape) 9min 5.46sec, 37.273pts, 3; Hamu Henderson (Kaiwaka) 8min 56.89sec, 38.095pts, 4; Finn McKenzie (Wairoa) 9min 25.95sec, 40.798pts, 5; Maureen Chaffey (Hastings) 10min 5.11sec, 50.506pts, 6.
Novice (1 sheep): Summer Prichard (Pongaroa) 3min 38.32sec, 23.916pts, 1; Sam Mathewson (Martinborough) 5min 54.92sec, 24.746pts, 2; Charlie Heard (Masterton) 4min 39.62sec, 29.981pts, 3; William Billing (Masterton) 5min 23.73sec, 30.187pts, 4; Lily Alabaster (Taihape) 4min 40.99sec, 34.05pts, 5; Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 5min 26.53sec, 34.327pts, 6.
Open final: Samantha Gordon (Masterton) 1; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 2; Brittany Tibble (Gisborne) 3; Angela Stevens (Napier) 4; Logan Kamura (Marton) 5; Chelsea Collier (Hamilton/Gore) 6.
Azuredee Paku (Masterton) 1; Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 2; Chrystal Braddick (Eketahuna) 3; Jimmy Samuels (Marton) 4; Emily Te Kapa (Scotland) 5; Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui) 6.
Junior final: Rahera Kerr (Hautupu) 1; Alisha Te Huia (Marton) 2; Amy Bell (Weber) 3; Te Whetu Brown (Wairoa) 4.
Novice: Grace Croasdale (Masterton) 1; Atira Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 2; Eleri Bradley (Woodville) 3; Rongomai Hepi (Turangi) 4; Kiha Ruki (Te Kuiti) 5; Sheena Maru (Marokopa/Piopio) 6.