Herbert outdoes Henare

Keryn Herbert  is all concentration as she competes for the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year title at the Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Balclutha. Photo by Barbara Newton
Keryn Herbert is all concentration as she competes for the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year title at the Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Balclutha. Photo by Barbara Newton

Te Awamutu woolhandler Keryn Herbert (34) beat the odds to win the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year title at the Otago Shears.

She faced stiff competition from Golden Shears and world champion wool handler Joel Henare, of Gisborne, the Golden Shears and World, to win the season final, in Balclutha.

Herbert has been Shearing Sports New Zealand's top-ranked woolhandler for the past three seasons. She was accorded Master Woolhandler status in 2012 but this has been only her third national Woolhandler of the Year final since she first competed in the open class in 2003.

Henare has won the national title a record five times from 2008 to 2012.

Herbert said none of it would be possible without the support of family because she got no big sponsors or commercial endorsements.

Henare was first to complete the six-sheep routine - an exacting task on the three different wool types of two full wool, two short wool and two lambs, but Herbert pushed through to win on quality.

However, earlier in the day Henare beat Herbert in the South Island circuit final, scoring his eighth win of the season.

Herbert, who was likely to be one of the top two of eight qualifiers for a selection series final at the Golden Shears, was seeking another chance to represent New Zealand at World Championships.

She won a world championships teams title in Wales in 2010.

Alexandra woolhandler Juliette Lyon, a regular in the television series Shearing Gang, won the Senior Woolhandler of the Year title and the South Island circuit finals.

Henare's partner, Erica Reti, won the Junior Woolhandler of the Year final, while Liv Gardiner, of Alexandra, won the South Island Circuit Junior final.