Aussie wool handlers shine at Golden Shears in New Zealand

Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand, March 6, 2023

Australia’s victorious trans-Tasman wool handlers Racheal Hutchison and Mark Purcell at the Golden Shears. Photo – Joanne Crawford – Facebook.

AUSTRALIA’S trans-Tasman wool handlers Racheal Hutchison and Mark Purcell have beaten the odds to end a New Zealand series winning streak on the Kiwis’ home tables at the Golden Shears international shearing championships in Masterton.

The two countries went into Friday night’s test with the Kiwis seeking a fifth consecutive win in the annual home-and-away matches, having won 35 of the 45 tests since the first in 1998, and with Australia having not had an away win since victory in Masterton in 2015.

The rookie Kiwi team of Masterton wool handler Cushla Abraham and Napier’s Angela Stevens scored a surprise win over a much more experienced Australian team in Bendigo, Victoria, when the series resumed last November, after a two-year hiatus amid the restrictions of the global pandemic. The New Zealanders were the TAB favourite, paying $1.50 to win.

But Friday night in Masterton belonged to the Australian handlers, at $2.50 on the NZ TAB, with New South Wales contractor Hutchison from Gilgandra, in her Australian-record 12th trans-Tasman match, and international newcomer Purcell, from Macarthur, Victoria.

Purcell became the reigning Australian open wool handling champion after defeating previous title holder Hutchison at the Australian championships late last year. It was Purcell’s first title win after 23 years of competing.

In a historic lower grade triumph for the Australian contingent, 21 year-old Abby Curnow from Bendigo, Victoria, won the junior wool handling championship event. She become the first Australian to win a Golden Shears wool handling title in the 38 years since wool handling was added to the events ribbon parade in 1985.

Trans-Tasman pair Racheal Hutchison and Mark Purcell working together at the board. Image – Shearing Sports New Zealand.

In the trans-Tasman test, the Australian pair finished the eight-fleece task first at Masterton and were victorious with a 27-point margin. It completed possibly Australia’s biggest day at the Golden Shears event, that started in 1961 with a claim to being the Australasian championship. Hutchison reached the Golden Shears Open wool handling semi-finals at Masterton and Purcell reached the quarter finals.

Earlier in the day, north-western NSW teenager Tyron Cochrane won the Golden Shears Junior shearing final, the first Golden Shears championship win in Masterton since Australian shearing industry legend John Allan won the foundation Intermediate title 62 years ago. There was even a personal connection between Cochrane and Hutchison, whose father works for her contracting business.

Much of the credit for the green-and-gold win was attributed to Hutchison. Purcell and Shear Sports Australia chairman Dave Lawrence said it was her preparation, that included the pair doing an Elite Shearing Industry Training course on Tuesday and competing in the Wairarapa Pre-Shears championships on Wednesday, to pave the way for the success.

Hutchison was determined to succeed, with the only Australian win in her previous 11 test match wins being 12 years ago in Christchurch. By the time the match was over she felt confident the judges would see it Australia’s way. Hutchison’s sons Maverick, 15, and Conrad, 13, also competed in the Golden Shears Novice heats, on what was their first trip to New Zealand, along with sister Sasha, 10.


On her way to Golden Shears victory, junior wool handling champion Abby Curnow. Photo – Pete Nikolaison, Golden Shears Media Group.

Golden Shears Junior Woolhandling champion Abby Curnow, left, with Tatijana Keefe, NZ, second, Jolie Orcher, Goodooga, NSW, third, and Lucy Elers, NZ, fourth. Photo – Joanne Crawford, Facebook.

Joel Henare, from Gisborne, but living with his three children in Motueka, justified hot TAB favouritism to win a ninth-consecutive Golden Shears Open wool handling title by a wide margin from runner-up Keryn Herbert, of Te Kuiti. Henare was unavailable for world championships selection, leaving what became one of the closet finals ever in a wool handling final as four others fought out a team selection final.

The two positions were claimed by Candi Hiri of Gore and Ngaio Hanson of Eketahuna, with less than a point covering the first three places, just-cutting Foonie Waihape, of Alexandra, out of the trip to Edinburgh. Hanson’s performance was one of three putting both Eketahuna and her family on the map. She’s the sister of open shearing finalist Hemi Braddick and open wool handling third-placegetter Ana Braddick.

Golden Shears wool handling results

Trans-Tasman wool handling test (8 fleeces): Australia (Racheal Hutchison, Mark Purcell) 282.3pts, 1; New Zealand (Cushla Abraham, Angela Stevens) 309.7pts, 2.

Wools of New Zealand Shearing Sports New Zealand World Championships wool handling selection series final: Candi Hiri (Gore) 111.92pts, 1; Ngaio Hanson (Eketahuna) 112.46pts, 2; Foonie Waihape (Alexandra) 112.48pts, 3; Jasmin Tipoki (Martinborough/Napier) 165.28pts, 4. Candi Hiri and Ngaio Hanson will be the two woolhandlers to represent New Zealand at the World Championships in Edinburgh on June 22-25.

Open final: Joel Henare (Gisborne/Motueka) 149.76pts, 1; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 207.6pts, 2;Ana Braddick (Eketahuna) 248.8pts, 3; Jasmin Tipoki (Martinborough/Napier) 260.82pts, 4.

Senior final: Rahera Kerr (Hauturu) 154.5pts, 1; Emma Martin (Gore) 174.24pts, 2; Vinniye Phillips (Taumarunui) 187.987pts, 3; Amy Bell (Weber) 203.8pts, 4.

Junior final: Abby Curnow (Bendigo, Vic) 84.74pts, 1; Tatijana Keefe (Raupinga) 132.46pts, 2; Jolie Orcher (Goodooga, NSW) 150.7pts, 3; Lucy Elers (Mataura) 152.88pts, 4.

Novice final: Eleri Bradley (Woodville) 63pts, 1; Crystal Newton (Piopio) 72pts, 2; Bryndyll Pinkham (Taumarunui) 76.6pts, 3; Ana Mason (Masterton) 115.4pts, 4.

North Island Circuit Open final: Cushla Abraham (Masterton) 103.5pts, 1; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 115.86pts, 2; Ngaio Hanson (Eketahuna) 158.4pts, 3; Jasmin Tipoki (Martinborough/Napier) 195.86pts, 4.

Wool pressing: Men (weight target 170kg): Jeremy Goodger (Masterton) 165.5kg, 46.45pts, 1; Vinnie Goodger (Masterton) 164kg, 53.1pts, 2.

Women (target weight 150kg): Savannah King (Eketahuna) 147.5kg, 63.35pts, 1; Fiona Healy (Masterton) 146.5kg, 65.9pts, 2.

Novice (target weight 170kg): Daniel Lewis (Masterton) 157.5kg, 66.95pts, 1; Hoanni Wipaki (Milton) 149kg, 79.7pts, 2.

Pairs (target weight 170kg): Vinnie and Jeremy Goodger (Masterton) 174kg, 25.3pts, 1; Cona Harmon and James Goodger (Masterton) 174.5kg, 32pts, 2.



YFC Shearing and Woolhandling (3 sheep): East Coast 1 (shearers Hemi Bradick, Ruka Braddick; wool handlers Marika Braddick, Ana Braddick) 7min 11sec, 141.5pts, 1; Taranaki/Manawatu (shearers Joseph Gordon, David Gordon; wool handlers Shya Gordon, Samantha Gordon) 7min 2sec, 152.6pts, 2; East Coast 2 (shearers Lionel Taumata,Naki Maraki; wool handlers Taijana Keefe, Ngaira Puha) 7min 16sec, 209.4pts, 3.



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