The Gisborne area again dominated the opening day of the Golden Shears with two wins in the three events decided in Masterton today.
The big win came when 23-year-old Heaven Kemp – “Gizzie hard” as she put it - won her first-ever competition, the Golden Shears Novice woolhandling championship.
The event was won last year by Aromia Ngarangione, of Gisborne, while the inaugural Novice woolhandling final in 2013 was won by another coaster, Tameka Hema.
“She’s cool, we stay in the same house, she lent me her blade,” said the excited Kemp, proudly wearing the red ribbon of triumph and saying: “This is a shock. I never expected this.”
It was boss Tuhi Hyde who pushed her into it. She reckoned she only came for the social revelry, but she was more than happy to accept the first prize of $150 to fund that pursuit, after all-but disappearing from the race early in the day when just making it into the semi-finals in eighth place.
Earlier, rookie shearers Jacob Maxwell, of Whakatane, and Kristy Roa, of Hamilton, won the inaugural farm students challenge for their campus of Waipaoa Station, north of Gisborne.
Woolhandling runner-up Tracie Baxter, of Pongaroa, made a valiant attempt to match the effort of son Mark Baxter who won last yesr’s Novice shearing final, but then saw second son Andrew win this year’s final.
Shepherding on a farm at Alferdton, between Masterton and Pongaroa, the 21-year-old Andrew Baxter, said that while he’d shorn no more than a few “stragglers” he had on the back of his brother’s success 12 months ago come to Masterton with a plan, and “got the result.”
But it wasn’t clear that it had been the plan that had worked, saying that after he lost a few points on the first of the two sheep he had to speed-up on the second to make-up the difference and said: “I didn’t really know what to think when I came off.”
It wasn’t the only triumph for what has become known as Team Pongaroa, with Mark Baxter’s wife, Samantha, also shearing the Novice final, her brother, Leam, making it to Friday’s Junior shearing semi-finals, and sister Summer qualifying for Saturday’s Junior woolhandling semi-finals.