Wool Processing

NZ schoolgirl beats Queensland shearer in Golden Shears final

Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand, March 1, 2024

Wairoa farmers’ daughter Ashlin Swann, 15, winning the novice shearing final in Masterton, emulating brother Ryka, who won in 2020. Photo – Peter Nikolaison.

A 15 YEAR-OLD Wairoa College student claimed first bragging rights for the growing number of female shearers at the Golden Shears by winning the novice final in Masterton, New Zealand, yesterday.

Ashlin Swann, in Masterton with twin sister and fellow novice shearer Shawna, brother and 2020 novice winner Ryka, and father, wool presser and open class shearer Paul Swann – leaving mum Sonya at home to run the Ardkeen farm – was one of five Hawke’s Bay-based competitors who made the final six.

Having been fourth of the 61 in the heats and third qualifier from the semi-finals, she was slowest in the final, shearing the two sheep in 7m 27.019s – two minutes slower that the first to finish, 18-year-old Ryan Craw, from Coromandel but currently in his first year in cadet farm training at Pukemiro, near Dannevirke.

Uncharacteristically Swann was also only fourth best in judging on the shearing board. But she slayed the opposition with a near sheen-clean result with the finished product, incurring just three penalties in judging in the pens, and won by over five points overall from eventual runner-up Karl Schoff, of Chinchilla, Queensland.

There was a big Hawke’s Bay influence all round in the final, with third-placed Craw and fifth placed Grady Collis, from Tauhoa, in Northland, having earlier won the MKM Students Challenge for Pukemiro, and fourth and sixth placed Rebecca Dickson and Bugs Butler having been the Tikokino-based Smedley team that was second.

Swann, who first shore a full sheep in the Hawke’s Bay Show schools competition in October 2022, had become a regular in recent competitions in the lower and central North Island, and had won at Taihape, Marton, Aria and Te Puke since late January.

She said she goes up to junior class at her next competition, probably the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti next month.

But despite the increasing experience, Swann said she was “nervous” when she got up onto the Masterton War Memorial Stadium stage.

“I was shaking as soon as I got up there,” she said. “I was very scared. I was shaking.”

She takes every chance to shear when her dad needs sheep shorn on the farm, and obligingly lets her go to it while he “gets on the broom,” and every chance to compete, as long as her dad is taking her.

Keisha Reairi, 19, from Masterton and now based in Piopio, winning the Golden Shears Novice Woolhandling title. Photo – Pete Nikolaison.

The Paewai Mullins Novice Woolhandling final was won 19-year-old Keisha Reiri, originally from Masterton, but now working for Piopio contractor Mark Barrowcliffe, with mum Azuredee Paku, who won the New Zealand Shears Senior woolhandling title in Te Kuiti in 2021.

In a small number of competitions in the last two seasons, Reiri won the North Island championships novice final at the Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton last year. Judges awarded her the best fleece points, a telling advantage in a 7pts win over runner-up Gemma Buick, of Pongaroa, who had best points on the board and oddments, and equal-best time points.

The first night of the shears was the domain of the speedsters, and the top three speedshear competitors making it to the final of the Open Speedshear. It was won by Masterton shearer Paerata Abraham, with a quickest time of 17.789 seconds in the three-man showdown, with Jimmy Samuels, of Marton, the runner-up, and Jack Fagan, of Te Kuiti, placed third. Forde Alexander, of Taumarunui, won the Senior Speedshear, with a quickest time of 18.646sec, with Southland shearer Nathan Bee placed second, and King Country shearer Taelor Tarrant third.

Dannevirke all-round as Pukemiro farm cadets Ryan Craw, left, and Grady Collis, 18, are congratulated by presenter Tuma Mullins afer winning the student challenge shearing match in Masterton. Photo – Pete Nikolaison.

RESULTS from the first day of the 2024 Golden Shears in Masterton on Thursday, February 29, 2024:


Cydectin Novice final (2 sheep): Ashlin Swann (Wairoa) 5m 43.19s, 23.16pts, 1; Karl Schoff (Chinchilla, Queensland) 5m 52.881s, 27.644pts, 2; Ryan Craw (Coromandel) 5m 21.203s, 28.56pts, 3; Rebecca Dickson (Tikokino) 7m 27.019s, 29.351pts, 4; Grady Collis (Tauhoa) 6m 38.079s, 30.404pts, 5; Bugs Butler (Tikokino) 6m 44.53s, 30.726pts, 6.

MKM Student Shearing Challenge (2 sheep): Pukemiro Cadetship, Dannevirke (Ryan Craw/Grady Collis) 6m 17.828s, 23.391pts, 1; Smedley Station, Tikokino (Bugs Butler/Rebecca Dickson) 7m 25.251s, 28.763pts, 2; Napier Boys High School (George Prouting/Waiari Puna) 5m 41.137s, 35.05pts, 3; Feilding Agricultural High School (Abbey Grant/Mack Belton) 9m 22.634a, 37.132pts, 4; Palmerston North Boys High School (Ernie Fowler/James Bigham) 6m 10.987s, 49.049pts, 5; Growing Future Farmers (Brett Eastwood/Cameron Judd) 7m 6.189s, 52.809pts, 6.


Paewai Mullins Novice woolhandling final: Keisha Reiri (Masterton/Piopio) 165.84pts, 1; Gemma Buick (Pongaroa) 172.92pts, 2; George Whiunui (Napier) 193.92pts, 3; Gen Wood (Pongaroa) 278.46pts.


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