IT WAS a case of lucky number 13 for one contender at the Otago Shearing and New Zealand Woolhandling Championships on Saturday.
Top Gisborne woolhandler Joel Henare won the national open woolhandling trophy for the 13th time in 16 years at Carterhope Estate, south of Balclutha, against solid competition, despite ‘‘retiring’’ after his last win in 2021.
Henare said he had stepped away from competition to spend more time with his young family at the time, but circumstances meant he was now able to blend family commitments with attendance at the country’s top events.
‘‘I’m in a good place now to be able to juggle spending time with the kids, and competition.
‘‘Balclutha and the Golden Shears [in Masterton] are special for me, just the people, the places and the atmosphere, so you can expect to see me back down here again next year.’’
Sharp performances from fellow woolhandlers, including third-placed Heaven Little, of Balclutha, had kept him on his toes this year, Henare said.
‘‘It was tough today, with new faces coming through and hitting my heels. Some of them are getting closer to me, and that’s great for the industry as a whole.’’
Southern competitors flew the flag for the Mainland in several classes on Saturday, although the Otago Shears were taken out by Northlander Toa Henderson for the first time, up against four former winners in the final.
However, in senior woolhandling, 17-year-old Charis Morrell, of Alexandra claimed victory
In the junior woolhandling, Balclutha’s Alisha Casserly
(15) came second.
Otago Shears president Ken Payne said he was delighted with the large turnout this year, and thanked sponsors and volunteers for their contribution.
‘‘We had 48 woolhandlers and 73 shearers, some from as far afield as Australia and the UK, which are excellent numbers.
‘‘Shearing’s becoming sexy again, with a global audience, and it’s been great to see some strong young local contenders coming through today.
‘‘We’ll be looking forward to next year in positive frame of mind.’’