A teenager from a remote corner of Australia has made history, winning the Golden Shears junior final.
Tyron Cochrane, the only Australian in a New Zealand-dominated six-shearer final, took the top spot at War Memorial Stadium yesterday afternoon.
The 18-year-old from Goodooga is the only the second Australian to ever win a Golden Shears title since the inaugural competition in 1961 – and possibly the first-ever win by a First Nation Aboriginal shearer, anywhere.
Cochrane clinched the title after shearing five sheep in seven minutes and 16 seconds with the fewest demerits points.
Goodooga, a small rural town just 20km south of the Queensland border, is home to the Yuwaalaraay people and is recognised as one of the most disadvantaged areas of New South Wales.
Cochrane said he hopes the win will inspire other young Australians, particularly those from the Aboriginal community, to pursue shearing as a career.
Shearing Sports New Zealand said not only was Cochrane’s win a major for his family and people, it was also a triumph for the First Nation employment development project [REDi], which brought a team to New Zealand to compete.
Team member Cochrane only had his first taste of competition just over a month ago at the shearing sports in Taihape on January 28.
He qualified for his first final a few days later, finishing sixth in the North Island championships on February 4.
Five events around New Zealand followed, all of them won by competitors he eclipsed in yesterday’s showdown.
REDi deputy chief executive Michael Cooper said Cochrane simply qualifying for the final was a major achievement for the trailblazing team – “To win was the cherry on top.”
Waitotara’s Jake Goldsbury came in runner-up, while Gore locals Cody Waihape and Emma Martin secured third and fourth places in the junior competition.