Wool­han­dler hunts for 100th ti­tle


It’s 99 down, and one to go for wool­han­dling cham­pion Joel Henare, who will be chas­ing his 100th open ti­tle at Gore South­ern Shears this Satur­day.

This would make him only the sec­ond per­son to win as many, be­hind the late Joanne Kumeroa, of Whanganui, who won at least 128 ti­tles.

Go­ing into his 97th and 98th wins at Balclutha last Satur­day in the New Zealand Wool­han­dler of the Year and South Is­land Wool­han­dling Cir­cuit events, Henare was re­laxed: That’s the only way to win, he said.

‘‘You’ve got to be or­gan­ised. You’ve got to con­cen­trate on get­ting it right.’’

It all seemed to go to plan at Balclutha, with Henare well ahead of his ri­vals.

‘‘The sheep were good. The drought doesn’t seem to have af­fected them. The fleece was hold­ing to­gether this year – last year it fell apart more.’’

Otago Shears pres­i­dent Bruce Walker said full credit should be given to the sup­pli­ers Carter­hope Es­tate and Mt Wal­lace sta­tion, which de­spite se­vere drought con­di­tions in the re­gion, had put aside and pro­vided well-nur­tured sheep for the com­pe­ti­tion.

Wool­han­dling com­peti­tor num­bers were down this year com­pared with the shear­ing events, and had been fall­ing in the past few years, he said.

Henare agreed, and be­lieved it was a fi­nan­cial de­ci­sion for some han­dlers, who were chas­ing the work, rather than the shear­ing com­pe­ti­tion cir­cuit.

‘‘I think num­bers will come back up. We’re want­ing the next gen­er­a­tion to come through that will want to get back into com­pe­ti­tion.’’

The 26-year-old fa­ther of three, who is orig­i­nally from Gis­borne and started his wool­han­dling ca­reer in Cen­tral Otago wool­sheds aged 15, has made a change this sea­son by tak­ing a full­time job in a fish­ery at his new home base of Motueka.

‘‘It’s the first time I’ve been out of the in­dus­try for 15 years, that I’m not around it 24/7, so it’s dif­fer­ent.’’

Hast­ings shearer and suc­ces­sive Golden Shears win­ner Row­land Smith notched-up an­other open ti­tle on his belt, ahead of John Kirk­patrick of Napier, who won the World Shear­ing and Wool­han­dling Cham­pi­onships ma­chine shear­ing ti­tle at In­ver­cargill last year, Nathan Strat­ford, of In­ver­cargill, Brett Roberts, of Mataura and Hay­den Tapp, of Tai­hape.

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