Pagan Rimene and David Gordon ensured Wairarapa took centre stage when the Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships were held at Balclutha over the weekend.
Rimene, from Masterton and Alexandra, was the lady of the moment in the woolhandling, winning both the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year and South Island Open Circuit finals, her first wins since her first open final in November 2006, when she beat mother and former world teams and Golden Shears champion Tina Rimene at the New Zealand Corriedale Championships in Christchurch.
With just one other finals placing behind her this season, Rimene's NZWHY win was an upset. It came after three consecutive finals placings in the event and emulated her mother's victory in 2004, and followed her own win in the senior final at Balclutha in 2006, the year in which she also won the Golden Shears senior final.
The new champion also finished third in the weekend's junior shearing final, won by Kahn Culshaw, of Ashburton, and was in an all-star Team Morrell combo which won the teams event. The others in that team were senior woolhandling double winner Anne-Maree Kahukura, of Omakau, and shearers John Kirkpatrick, from Napier, and Mataura's Brett Roberts, who won the senior final for a second time.
In her ninth season of competition woolhandling, Rimene's genes have always had her destined for the top. That is now being realised despite a road tragedy in 2008, in which two passengers in the work van she was driving were killed, and in which she and sister and fellow successful woolhandler Larnie Morrell were seriously injured.
Her mother has been competing in open competition for more than 20 years, winning two world teams titles and three Golden Shears open finals. Father Dion Morrell is a contractor and former world record-breaking shearer who won New Zealand's major all-wools title, the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown (now the PGG Wrightson National), in 1997, and her sister won the Golden Shears junior and senior woolhandling titles.
Masterton teenager David Gordon scored his 11th win in his last 12 finals by claiming the intermediate shearing title, a win by more than six-and-a-half points over runner-up and 2012 Golden Shears junior champion Andrew Leith, of Dipton, while the two junior woolhandling titles were shared, with Emma Kate Rabbidge, of Wyndham, winning the NZWHY final and Daine Rehe, of Te Teko, the South Island Circuit final.
Winner of the premier shearing title up for grabs was Invercargill gun and New Zealand representative Nathan Stratford, who became only the second South Island shearer to win the open final in Balclutha in the era of Te Kuiti shearing legend David Fagan, who first won the event in his first season of open-class shearing in 1983.
Edsel Forde, now long-retired from competition shearing, won the event in 1989 and 1994, but multiple-winner Fagan kicks on, qualifying for the five-man, 20-sheep final again on Saturday and finishing fourth in quest of a 618th open competition victory.
With best Otago placings of third in 2004 and 2007 but missing from the final in 2011 and 2012, it was a determined Stratford who tried to make the pace through the early stages.
But it was Waipawa shearer Cam Ferguson, whose 2010 win was followed by his Golden Shears and world championship triumphs later that year, who took charge, his 17min 16.06s for 20 sheep leaving him watching the rest for 31s before Stratford was next to hit the button, 4s ahead of multiple winner Kirkpatrick.
It was quality over speed which decided the issue as Stratford claimed the win by more than two points from Ferguson who held on by less than four-hundredths of a point to take second place ahead of Kirkpatrick.
With Fagan next, Southland shearer Darin Forde had to settle for fifth, in his first time in the final since 2008.