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The region’s two great, golden events

We are never too old to learn something new. For that matter, we are never too old to try something new or experience something new.

I had earmarked two important Wairarapa events in the early stages of 2023, at which to tick a few of those boxes.

First, Wings over Wairarapa. Some old friends unexpectedly contacted me late last year, enquiring about my availability around the weekend of February 24-26.

As the conversation progressed, I realised they were more interested in the availability or otherwise of my spare room. They were prepared to travel a fair distance to be part of Wings, so, ever the willing, if not always fully prepared, host; I enthusiastically offered them a bed and maybe some breakfast. I must admit, I had never heard either of them express interest in old planes or even reasonably new ones.

Nonetheless, there was an understandable disappointment upon learning of the cancellation of Wings and then the postponement of the iconic event to November this year.

The organisers were left with no real choice in the end, and that they have fixed another date so soon is a testament to their determination and the importance of the event to Wairarapa. I have an inkling many will have marked the new date on their calendars.

Next up, Golden Shears. Bingo. Everything I could have hoped for, right down to the unique scent of rural New Zealand, in the air.

Some aspects of the event are immediately obvious. It’s hot. The temperature is hot, the lights on both stages are hot, and the sweat is pouring off the competitors.

Every possible door and window is open, but it makes no discernable difference. Mind you, the competitors look lean and hungry, and their singlet tans suggest they have been out in what little sun we have had this summer.

I catch two heats in the novice shearer category. Young men and women wrestle with mostly compliant sheep while manoeuvering a blade around long curves and sharp corners. They make it look easy, and a tiny nick here and there is of little consequence, other than some penalty points.

In the first heat I see, Martinborough shearers take the first three spots, shutting out visitors from up the line.

In the second heat, there is an air of anticipation. One of the competitors, at stand five, is 10-year-old Wairua Edmonds from Masterton. His confidence and maturity is a sight to behold as he sweeps to what looks like a comfortable victory.

Wairua’s involvement adds another layer to multi-generational whanau involvement in the wool industry.

He is the fourth generation of a family spanning almost all 61 years of the competition since it was first held in 1961. Perhaps that party explains his self-assuredness in front of several hundred onlookers. It’s in his DNA.

Another observation: It would seem the mullet is by far the hairstyle of choice among the male participants at the War Memorial Stadium.

I’m keen to see as much of Golden Shears as my work commitments allow. If you have never been before, get along and soak up the atmosphere.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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