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Shearing: Big Taihape Shears win for Northland’s Toa Henderson

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Toa Henderson, of Kaiwaka, seen here in 2021, travelled over 560km to compete at the Taihape Shears, won, and then went home. Photo / SSNZ

It was a southern raid in every respect for Northland shearer Toa Henderson on Saturday, as he travelled over six hours to win the Taihape Shearing Sports open final with possibly its fastest-ever time, and then drove home.

Henderson and his father Mike left Kaiwaka, near Whangārei, at 4.30am to make sure they arrived in time for the open-class heats – over 550km away and starting in Taihape soon after 1pm.

One of 44 starters in the glamour grade, Henderson made his way through the heats and the semi-finals to the six-man final, where he sheared the 20 second-shear sheep in 15min 23sec.

When he finished, all five others had more than one sheep still to shear.

Henderson was 56 seconds quicker than the next man off – Hemi Braddick, of Eketāhuna – and it was the fastest of the times on record for a 20-sheep final at the central North Island State Highway 1 show.

It was also the first time a 20-sheep final in Taihape had been shorn in under 16 minutes since Hawke’s Bay shearer Dion King sheared 15min 57sec in 2012.

Henderson’s quality points suffered a little and he had the highest numbers of penalties in both board and pen judging.

However, the time advantage of 2.8pts was enough for Henderson to hold out Braddick, who had to settle for second place for the second year in a row.

The winning margin closed to just 0.8pts, while Braddick claimed the second ribbon by 0.65pts from third-placed Jack Fagan, of Te Kuiti.

The 2015 and 2021 winner, and former World and Golden Shears Open Champion, Gavin Mutch, was fourth.

Paraki Puna, of Napier, had one of his best open-class shears to claim fifth place, while Mark Grainger was sixth, but had the best quality points after being last to finish.

Meanwhile, in-form competitor Te Ua Wilcox, of Gisborne, had his fifth senior shearing win of the season, but the intermediate and junior finals were dominated by the influx of young shearers from overseas.

The first four in the intermediate final were from overseas, led by Rory Owen, from Builth Wells in Wales and currently working for fellow Welshman Delwyn Jones in King Country, winning with a 1.2pts margin over runner-up and top Australian intermediate shearer Danielle Mauger, who works in the Boyup Brook area of southwest WA.

Welsh shearers were also first and second in the junior final, shorn as two heats – a unique feature of the Taihape show for several years.

Winner Elis Jones and runner-up Ewan Davies beat in-form Hawke’s Bay shearer Kaivah Cooper.

Ashlin Swan, of Wairoa, won the novice event, which had 17 entries.

Taihape Shearing Sports: Woolhandling results

Keryn Herbert competes at the Golden Shears. Photo / Pete Nikolaison
Keryn Herbert competes at the Golden Shears. Photo / Pete Nikolaison

Former World Woolhandling Team Champion Keryn Herbert won the Taihape open woolhandling title for the eighth time, having previously won five times consecutively in 2011-2015 and back-to-back in 2020-2021.

In a field of 22, she qualified fourth for the semifinals and repeated the effort, qualifying among the five for the final, which were headed by reigning New Zealand Shears Open Champion Angela Stevens, of Napier.

The runner-up was first-year open competitor Te Anna Phillips, of Taumarunui, and 2018 winner Logan Kamura, of Marton, came third.

Stevens was fourth and New Zealand 2023 World Championships representative Ngaio Hanson, of Eketāhuna, was fifth, and still to record an open final win.

The senior woolhandling final was won by first-time finalist Crawford Cook, of Mangaweka.

The junior final was won by Chloe Henderson, of Feilding, and the novice event was won by Capree Wallace, of Taihape.

Possible record entries for Taihape Shearing Sports

It was thought to have been a record entry for Taihape, with more than 200 competitors across the shearing and woolhandling classes.

Taihape Shearing Sports chairman Stu Munro said the number of competitors was “overwhelming” for a one-day event.

It made for a long day, with competition starting at 8.30am and prizegiving not complete until about 7.30pm, he said.

He said his committee, which had some younger people stepping up, would have to look at how to make it work better; being the first major gathering of competitors from throughout the North Island in a five-week run-up to the three-day Golden Shears in Masterton.

The Taihape competitions were first held in 1962.

Taihape Shearing Sports Shearing and Woolhandling Championships results

Taihape, January 27, 2024


Open final (20 sheep): Toa Henderson (Kaiwaka) 15min 23sec, 57.05pts, 1; Hemi Braddick (Eketāhuna) 16min 19sec, 57.75pts, 2; Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 16mi 47sec, 58.4pts, 3; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Dannevirke) 16min 40sec, 59.6pts, 4; Paraki Puna (Napier) 16min 49sec, 60.85pts, 5; Mark Grainger (Te Kuiti) 18min 31sec, 62.2pts, 6.

Senior final (10 sheep): Te Ua Wilcox (Gisborne) 11mins, 41.1pts, 2; Laura Bradley (Papatawa) 12min 4sec, 42.8pts, 2; Forde Alexander (Taumarunui) 11min 23sec, 43.45pts, 3; Callum Bosley (Cornwall, England) 11min 43sec, 43.75pts, 4; Mark Ferguson (Elsthorpe) 11min 57sec, 43.95pts, 5; Alex Butler Ballyvoy, Northermn Ireland) 11min 55sec, 48.45pts, 6.

Intermediate final (7 sheep): Rory Owen (Builth Wells, Wales) 9mins, 38.1429pts, 1; Danielle Mauger (Mullalyup, West Australia) 10min 15sec, 39.3214pts, 2; Luke Magee (Raphoe, Ireland) 11min 2sec, 40.8143pts, 3; Rhys Morris (Builth Wells, Wales) 10min 34sec, 40.8429pts, 4; Ryka Swann (Wairoa) 10min 24sec, 42.9143pts, 5; Jake Goldsbury (Waitotara) 8min 38sec, 43.3286pts, 6.

Junior final (4 sheep): Elis Jones (Brynrefail, Wales) 7min 43sec, 29.15pts, 1; Ewan Davies (Newchurch, Wales) 6min 35sec, 29.73pts, 2; Kaivah Cooper (Napier) 7min 49sec, 30.2pts, 3; Barney Richardson (Leek, England) 6min 3sec, 31.15pts, 4; Orlando Ratima (Hunterville) 6min 57sec, 32.1pts, 5; Tomos Davies (Llanelwy, Wales) 7min 34sec, 32.95pts, 6.

Novice final (1 sheep): Ashlin Swann (Wairoa) 4min 20sec, 22pts,1; Chloe Bingham (-) 3min 25sec, 22.25pts, 2; Rebecca Dickson (Halcombe) 4min 15sec, 29.75pts, 3; Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 4min 35sec, 29.75pts, 4; Kingston Pue (Raetihi) 3min 47sec, 30.35pts, 5; Beth Kerley (Wairoa) 7min 36sec, 40.8pts, 6.


Open final: Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 28.004pts, 1; Te Anna Phillips (Taumarunui) 31.008pts, 2; Logan Kamura (Marton) 36.008pts, 3; Angela Stevens (Napier) 40.008pts, 4; Ngaio Hanson (Eketāhuna) 48.016pts, 5.

Senior final: Crawford Cook (Mangaweka) 36.168pts, 1; Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui) 38.114pts, 2; Te Whetu Brown (Wairoa/Napier) 39.726pts, 3; Tatijana Keefe (Raupunga) 42.9pts, 4; Ryley Paul (Wairoa) 62.944pts, 5.

Junior final: Chloe Henderson (Feilding) 42.47pts, 1; Mere Mataki (Flaxmere) 55.41pts, 2; Jevan Mason (-) 65.16pts, 3; Ngahuia Salmond (Te Kuiti) 69.47pts, 4; Rahera Lewis (Taihape) 75.37pts, 5.

Novice final: Capree Wallace (Taihape) 42.92pts, 1; Caitlin Murphy (Pongaroa) 45.78pts, 2; Tori Bendall (Mangaone) 51.19pts, 3; Gemma Buick (Pongaroa) 55.44pts, 4; Kirsty Simmons (Hastings) 57.48pts, 5.

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