Paerata Abraham on his way to the national shearing circuit title at the Golden Shears on Saturday. PHOTOS/PETE NIKOLAISON

DOUG LAING

Wairarapa had one of its biggest successes in the 59 years of the Golden Shears when Masterton shearer and contractor Paerata Abraham won the national shearing circuit final on Saturday night.

Still without a Wairarapa Golden Shears Open Championship winner, the acclaim of the crowd in the packed Masterton War Memorial Stadium was more than understandable.

Claiming New Zealand’s top multi-wool shearing title, Abraham mirrored the achievement of the late Ricky Pivac, of Carterton, who won the circuit final in 1987, and, like Pivac, will now represent New Zealand in next season’s home-and-away transtasman series.

It was just the second Open-class win for Abraham after about 14 years of trying. He won the Mayfield A&P Show’s Open title in March last year, but attained some fame among the big guns in his only Golden Shears Open final to date, when he blasted through the 20 sheep in 15min 50sec to post one of the event’s fastest-ever times.

The 35-year-old Abraham’s win completed a big Golden Shears for the family, after his winning the Speedshear and teenage brother-in-law Adam Gordon’s historic Novice shearing and wool handling finals wins on Thursday.

Another of Abraham’s brothers-in-law, 2010 Novice shearing winner David, was runner-up in Saturday afternoon’s Senior final, continuing a string of family successes including a 2008 Novice shearing and 2018 women’s wool pressing win by wife Cushla [nee Gordon], in a family Golden Shears history that dates back to the start in 1961 when the Gordon’s great-grandmother, Hinerau Mason, was a wool handler.

There was no telling the contrast between Paerata Abraham’s twin triumphs this year, the 22.225sec of $800-winning last Speedshear sheep on the first night and the 19min 15.082sec of the 15-sheep final of the
PGG Wrightson Wool circuit, which incorporates the McSkimming Memorial Trophy first presented in 1973.

It combines skills in fine-woolled merino, long strongwool, coarse-woolled corriedale, and crossbred lambs and second-shear shearing.

Abraham came from 11th place among the 12 qualifiers and fourth of the six to emerge from Saturday morning’s semi-final to post the second-fastest time and the best combination of time and quality points to win by just 0.795pts from runner-up, first-man-off and 2010 Golden Shears and World champion Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa.

The two glamour Open titles were successfully defended by Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith and Gisborne wool handler Joel Henare.

Also claiming a place at the World championships in France in July, and a chance to regain the title he won in Ireland in 2014, it was Smith’s 6th Golden Shears Open win, equalling the tally of second-most-prolific winner and early-years star Brian “Snow” Quinn, who won six finals from 1965 to 1972.

Henare won the wool handling title for a record seventh time, all in a row and a sequence expected to have been completed with his decision to retire from competition at the age of 27, but with the desire to devote more time to family.

He showed particular composure after his elimination earlier in the day from contention for the opportunity to defend his World title in France. He departed in the semi-final of a selection series, and watched on Saturday night as Tina Rimene’s daughter, Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, won the series final, to head to the World championships with series runner-up and 2008 World champion Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape.

Jeremy Goodger in the senior wool handling final.

The next-biggest home-town win was the surprise triumph of 39-year-old Jeremy Goodger in the Senior wool handling final. He had almost never previously competed in the grade, being best known for his successes as 13-times Golden Shears wool pressing champion.

Brother Vinnie Goodger won the wool pressing title for a fourth time, and Fiona Healy, of Masterton, won another women’s wool pressing title.

Eketahuna wool handler Ngaio Braddick’s bid for a possible World championships berth ended in the selection series semi-final, but it was a big night for the family when sister Ana Braddick claimed a surprise second place in the Open wool handling final. She was the No 1 ranked Senior wool handler nationally in 2014-2015 when her eight wins in 13 finals included a New Zealand title in Te Kuiti, but she had competed only rarely since those successes.

Among other Wairarapa successes was a popular triumph by Carterton shearing contractor and Golden Shears wool pressing co-ordinator John Hodder in the Evergreens wool handling event.

Other big winners on Saturday included Connor Puha, of Kimbolton, who added the Senior shearing title to the Novice title he won in 2014 and Intermediate title he won in 2017, 45-year-old Hawke’s Bay farmer Mark Ferguson, who dominated five finalists half his age to add the Intermediate title to the Junior title he won two years ago, Southland shepherd Brodie Horrell, who held-up the honour of the South Island by winning the Junior final, and Emily Welch, of Waikaretu, who won the new women’s event.