Shepherd’s delight: She made me do it

Farm shepherd Mark Baxter had a handy sort of role model to get him on the way in father and former YFC national Young Farmer of the Year Shaun.

But it took fiance Samantha Pritchard to really show him the way which led to a win today in the Golden Shears Novice Shearing final at the end of the first day of the 57th annual shearing and woolhandling championships in Masterton.

He was pictured talking with stadium announced and commentator Tuma Mullins moments after the 5min 10sec it took to nal the dream win.

The 23-year-old, whose father and mother Tracie farm Wairakau Station, between Pongaroa and the coast south of Dannevirke, said he’s done little shearing, and only started competing to follow girlfriend and now fiance Samantha, whom he will marry in November.

She and her brothers had started doing the shearing shows, but Baxter said: “I’m still a shepherd.”.

But it’s become something more than that in the remote Southern Hawke’s Bay and Northern Wairarapa community, with the evolving Team Pongaroa playing an even bigger part in the six-man final over two sheep each.

Shearing on Stand Five, Baxter was first off the board, with his back to future brother-in-law Leam Pritchard who was next off in just over 5min 57sec, while also in the final was the winner’s own brother, Andrew Baxter.

Ultimately Baxter had a winning margin of almost four-and-a-half points over runner-up and Gisborne youngster Richmond Ngarangione, unable to emulate sister Aromia Ngarangione, who had just won the Novice woolhandling final.

Third place went to Massey University student Ariana Hadfield, daugher of 2015 Ahuwhenua Maoeri Excellence in Farming Award winners and Northern Hawke’s Bay farmers Bart and Nuku Hadfield.

Baxter’s father was YFC Farmer of the Year in 1997, and won the Tararua District Sheep and Beef Farm Business if the Year Award.

From Doug Laing, media officer, Shearing Sports New Zealand