Wool Processing

‘Miracle man’ David Buick wins New Zealand Shears open final

Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand, April 8, 2024

David Buick winning the New Zealand Shears Open final in Te Kuiti on Saturday night, shearing 20 sheep in 15 minutes and 16 seconds. Photo – SSNZ.

WAIRARAPA shearer David Buick has brought off possibly one of the most amazing comebacks in New Zealand sport by winning the New Zealand Shears open shearing final in Te Kuiti at the weekend.

And his win on Saturday comes less than three years after a farm accident left him fighting for his life and wondering if he would ever walk again.

The accident happened when he was crushed in a collapsing ditch during drainage excavation on his farm near Pongaroa on October 20, 2021, buried up to his chin in sodden dirt.

With complex pelvic fractures and other injuries he was flown in a critical condition to Palmerston North by rescue helicopter and spent months recuperating in hospital and in a retirement home in Dannevirke to be closer to wife Rebecca, son Michael and daughter Gemma.

Now known among the fraternity as “the miracle man” he did learn to walk again, and 12 months ago in Te Kuiti shore in a father-and-son contest with Michael and surprised even himself by qualifying for the 2023 Open quarterfinals.

Father and son earlier on Saturday won the 2024 whanau event, that attracted 25 family pairings, but the big hint of a miracle in the making came when Buick was third in the Golden Shears open final in Masterton on March 2 – shearing the 20 sheep in 16min 16.064sec, 21 seconds quicker than eventual winner and Southland shearer Leon Samuel and more than a sheep ahead of all four other finalists.

The big win came on Saturday night when he was a minute quicker, beaten to the finish only by Northland shearer Toa Henderson, who shore one of the fastest 20-sheep finals in New Zealand history in finishing in 14min 59.75sec.

The 45 year-old Buick ultimately had a winning margin of just 0.504 points in his first win since the North Island Shearer of the Year final in Te Kuiti on April 9, 2021, an 11th win in 2020-2021 making him the No 1-ranked Open shearer for that season.

He had also been a multiple New Zealand representative and national lambs shearing titles winner, was in August last year acclaimed a Master Shearer by Shearing Sports New Zealand, and has now won 33 finals since first appearing in the Open class in 2002.

Henderson was runner-up for a second year in a row, a night after 2023-2024 win No 13, in the North Island Shearer of the Year final, and being named No 1-ranked Open shearer for the season, while third was defending champion Samuels.

There were emotional scenes after the win was announced by arena commentator Norm Harraway, even the beaten finalists appearing as happy as the victor, who said soon afterwards he didn’t know if he’d ever had the dream of winning such a big title again after the death-defying extremes of the last two years and six months.

But he had long harboured the “secret dream” of one day becoming the first shearer to complete a sequence of wins in all five grades at Te Kuiti, following wins in the Novice grade in 1995, the Junior final in 1997, the Intermediate grade in 1999, and the Senior final in 2002.

The back-story was first revealed publicly last year as the family became confident of a full recovery, although on Saturday night Buick was in wonderment as to how he had shorn better, and more successfully, than when he was “100 per cent.”

Further detail emerged in a printed championships programme feature, and in an on-the-couch interview he and Rebecca had with shearing veteran-turned commentator Digger Balme before special guests at the shears 24 hours before the big win.

After the victory, amid wellwishers reckoning there should be a movie, he confirmed he will take his place in the New Zealand team in the UK this year with Te Kuiti shearer Jack Fagan, who won his place with victory in the New Zealand Shears Circuit final, an event won 17 times between 1985 and 2010 by father and shearing legend Sir David Fagan, currently president of the New Zealand Shearing Championships Society and chairman of national body Shearing Sports New Zealand.

It was also a triumphant night for Te Kuiti woolhandler and farmer Keryn Herbert who claimed the New Zealand Shears Open woolhandling title, in an all-King Country trifecta, with secnd place going to 2013 winner Hanatia Tipene, of Te Kuiti, and third place to Miriam Haig, of Taumarunui.

It was Herbert’s 58th win in 21 years of Open competition, but which until Saturday night in either a Golden Shears or New Zealand Shears Open final, although she won a World teams title in 2010 and is acclaimed a Master Woolhandler.

The Senior shearing final on Saturday night completed a Golden Shears-New Zealand Shears double for Taumarunui shearer Forde Alexander – but only just.

Shearing the 12 sheep in 11min 45.23sec and beating next-man-off and Wyndham shearer Nathan Bee by 46 seconds, he saw Bee’s superior quality close the gap to just 0.071 points in the final count. Third place went to Rangiora shearer Blake Crooks, who was named No 1-ranked Senior shearer for the season with 8 wins.

Poverty Bay angus stud manager Dylan Young won the Intermediate shearing final, 29 years after father Tony Young won the shears’ Senior final, while earlier in the championships Napier shearer Kaivah Cooper added the Senior title to a Golden Shears win four weeks earlier, and the Novice final was won by Abbey Grant, from Turakina, and the women’s final was won by defending champion Laura Bradley, from Papatawa, between Dannevirke and Woodville, also completing a Golden Shears-New Zealand Shears double.

In woolhandling the Senior final was won by Rahera Kerr, of Hauturu, the Junior final was won by Rongomai Hepi, of Taumarunui, and the Novice final was won by Arleigh Tamati, of Waitara.

On Friday night, Wales beat New Zealand for the first time in a shearing test in New Zealand, although shearers Gethin Lewis and Llyr Jones conceded a 1-2 series loss to Kiwis Paerata Abraham and David Gordon.


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