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McIntyre and REDI.E team win well at NZ Merino championships

Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand, October 3, 2022

Daniel McIntyre reasserts Australia’s recent dominance of New Zealand’s major fine wool shearing title by winning the New Zealand Merino Shears open final in Alexandra. Photo – Barbara Newton.

NEW South Wales shearer Daniel McIntyre from Glen Innes has won the New Zealand Merino Championships open final at Alexandra in New Zealand’s South Island at his first attempt over the weekend.

Daniel finished his 12 open sheep in 23 minutes  32 seconds to score 81.0167 penalty points, behind in time but ahead on points from Stacey Te Huia (Alexandra) second in 22 minutes 44.81 seconds on 90.0738 points and Nathan Stratford (Alexandra) third in 24 minutes 30.12 seconds on  90.0893 points.

Daniel’s first trip to the championships was made to help the New South-Wales-based Regional Enterprise Development Institute REDI.E progam’s indigenous shearing and wool handling team, also on its first visit to New Zealand under the guidance of Australia-based New Zealand shearing legend Samson Te Whata.

Daniel, with shearer Dom White and wool handlers Angela Wakely and Kristal Weatherall, defeated a Kiwi team by a 70-point margin to win the trans-Tasman test at Alexandra.

Cushla wins her place in NZ trans-Tasman team

Cushla Abraham on her way to a stunning win in the New Zealand Merino Shears open wool handling final in Alexandra on Friday and Saturday. Photo – Barbara Newton.

In the open wool handling final at Alexandra, Masterton wool handler Cushla Abraham brought both form and a major surprise with her win against a top field.

The dominating performance, spearheaded by exceptional fleece quality points in the final, won her a place in the New Zealand team for the post-COVID resumption of trans-Tasman tests in Bendigo, Victoria, on October 21.

The black shirt marks a unique double, emulating husband and shearing contracting business partner Paerata Abraham who shore in the last two pre-COVID tests after winning the 2019 PGG Wrightson National Shearing Circuit.

It was a determined and consummate triumph from the 33-year-old mum-of-two who had undergone weight-loss surgery to shed 44kg in the last year and overcome diabetes, issues that had started to control her life since the birth of her first child 10 years ago, and was quite happy to talk about it.

“It’s changed my life,” she said the morning after the win as the couple prepared to fly home to Masterton to see the children they hadn’t seen for two months while “down south” working, mainly on merinos, for Alexandra contractors Peter and Elsie Lyon.

“I’m fitter now than I was when I was 20,” she said.

Thus, Abraham dominated throughout to be top qualifier among the 27 wool handlers in the heats on Friday and repeated the form through the semi-finals to Saturday’s final, in which she beat the only three other competitors to have won the Shearing Sports New Zealand season’s opening major title in the last decade.

The runner-up was four-times winner and 2019 World teams champion Pagan Rimene, of Alexandra, third was 2013 winner Amy Ferguson, of Alexandra, and fourth was four-times winner, 2012 and 2017 World champion and Gisborne wool handler Joel Henare, to whom she had been runner-up, while pregnant with her first child, in her first season of open wool handling in 2012.

She hadn’t reached an Alexandra final since, and she’d had just two open-class wins, at the Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton in February 2015 and at her home Wairarapa A and P Show at Clareville, Carterton, in October 2016, since when she’d contested just four finals despite being at almost every competition, also live-streaming events with family operation Shedtalk.

It was as a shearer that Abraham, in pre-married days as Cushla Gordon, first came to light, as winner of the Golden Shears novice shearing final in 2008, a title also won by brothers David (in 2010) and Adam (2019), while third brother Joseph has also been a multiple winner in the lower shearing grades.

She and Paerata will be back in the South Island later in the week for the Waimate Spring Shears on Friday and Saturday, and they expect to both be in Australia – with Paerata in support, just as she was when he was in the team three years ago.

For Cushla it will be the start of a chase for the ultimate goal this season, to win a place in the New Zealand team for the 2023 world championships in Scotland.

Te Huia is best Kiwi in open final

Meanwhile it was also a big day on Saturday for record-breaking shearer Stacey Te Huia, from the North Island, but based in Central Otago now for five years, partly to realise the dream of New Zealand trans-Tasman team selection, which he finally achieved as best Kiwi in the Shears’ open shearing final.

He was runner-up to Australian champion Daniel McIntyre, from north-eastern New South Wales town Glen Innes and who reasserted the Australian dominance of New Zealand’s top fine wool Merino shearing event established by West Australia gun Damien Boyle in eight wins in the decade from 2010 to 2019.

Third was three-times winner Nathan Stratford and fourth was Leon Samuels, the Invercargill shearers with whom Te Huia is expected to compete in the test in Australia later this month, and the return match at the Golden Shears in Masterton on March 4.

Te Huia, now 44, has set shearing records on both sides of the Tasman, most notably the eight-hours solo strong wool record of 603 he shore at Mangapehi, near Bennydale, in 2010, and the still-standing two-stand, nine-hours strong wool ewes record of 1341 he shore two years later with Waikaretu shearer Sam Welch, at Te Hape, also near Bennydale, and nine-hours merino ewes tally of 530 he shore near Dubbo, NSW, in February 2015..

But despite those heights he thought he wasn’t handling the pressure of the few competition finals he’d reached, and made the strategic step of switching contractors for part of the season so that he could learn more from Hawke’s Bay shearer Ariki Hawkins, working for Stringer Shearing, of Ranfurly.

McIntyre also spearheaded a team from Australia’s REDI-e First Nation Australia contingent, mainly the trainers, to a shearing and wool handling win over a NZ Merino Shears team, comprising top qualifiers from the open and senior grades.

Russell Ratima, from Aria and having established his Merino creds with a win in the New Zealand Winter Comb senior final in Waimate last year, won Saturday’s senior shearing final by just 0.25pts from Mitchell Menzies, of Ranfurly.

The senior wool handling final was won by Tamara Marshall, of Waikaretu, and the junior final was won by Shakira Matenga, from North Otago.

About 150 competitors took part, more than 20 up on last year’s 60th anniversary celebration, and society president Lane McSkimming said was noticeable that the championships had attracted a lot more from outside the shearing industry and from the wider community level than in recent years.

The Waimate Spring Shears, with crossbred full wool and fine wool winter comb titles at stake, are on Friday next weekend, before competitors, particularly the wool handlers, head north for the first North Island shearing and wool handling championships of the season at the Poverty Bay A and P Shows on October 15 and the Hawke’s Bay show’s Great Raihania Shears six days later.

Results from the New Zealand Merino Shears Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at Alexandra on Friday-Saturday September 30-October 1:

Shearing:

Open final (12 sheep): Daniel McIntyre (Glen Innes, NSW) 23min 32sec, 81.0167pts, 1; Stacey Te Huia (Alexandra) 22min 44.81sec, 90.0738pts, 2; Nathan Stratford (Alexandra) 24min 30.12sec, 90.0893pts, 3; Leon Samuels (Alexandra) 22min 31.63sec, 90.1648pts, 4; Angus Moore (Seddon) 23min 10.31sec, 92.2655pts, 5; Paul Robertson (West Australia) 26min 19.46sec, 108.1397pts, 6.

Senior final (4 sheep): Russell Ratima (Aria) 10min 26.02sec, 60.803pts, 1; Mitchell Menzies (Ranfurly) 14min 51.56sec, 60.828pts, 2; Scott Cameron (Alexandra) 14min 52.34sec, 62.867pts, 3; Josh Quinn (Seddon) 13min 9.29sec, 74.4645pts, 4; Cole Wells (Tarras) 13min 19.91sec, 76.9955pts, 5; Kevan Stringer (Ranfurly) 14min 41.1sec, 90.805pts, 6.

Wool handling:

Open: Cushla Abraham (Masterton) 122.458pts, 1; Pagan Rimene (Alexandra) 162.38pts, 2; Amy Ferguson (Invercargill) 192.832pts, 3; Joel Henare (Gisborne) 228.694pts, 4.

Senior: Tamara Marshall (Waekaretu) 127.156pts, 1; Ripeka Ferris 164.688pts, 2; Amberlee Kahukura (Mataura) 240.368pts, 3; Jess Toa (Ashburton) 249.7pts, 4.

Junior: Shakira Matenga (North Otago) 184.744pts, 1; Jamie Penfold (-) 190.726pts, 2; Emma Martin (Gore) 200.7pts, 3; Tia Manson Piopio) 204.82pts, 4.

Shearing and wool handling:

Trans-Tasman (four sheep): REDI-E First Nation Indigenous Australia (Daniel McIntyre, Dom White, Angela Wakely, Kristal Weatherall) 10min 8.13sec, 281.813pts, beat NZ Merino Shears (Angus Moore, Scott Cameron, Cushla Abraham, Tamara Marshall) 10min 4.16sec, 352.216pts.

NZ Merino Shears Teams: The Shilly Team 9min 57.06sec, 248.106pts, 1; Team Peter Lyon 10min 25.06sec, 281.906pts, 2; Yeah Nah 10min 26.97sec, 337.497pts, 3.

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