Teddies, a trophy and transtasman rivalry

It features shearing and woolhandling royalty, alongside "teddy bear" novices.

And there is also some "good old-fashioned" transtasman rivalry to boot, as Australasia’s best compete at this weekend’s New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships in Alexandra.

Up to 200 shearers and woolhandlers were competing at the two-day event, including Damien Boyle, of Australia, who had won the event’s open shearing category seven times, event organising committee member Graeme Bell said.

"We’re going to see whether it’s going to be the eighth time, but I hope it isn’t. I hope we do have a Kiwi come through. But Damien is a fantastic shearer, and he’s very much part of our show."

Boyle  would be competing alongside other shearing greats such as Southland’s Nathan Stratford and Troy Piper, Mr Bell said.

Lashara Anderson, of Invercargill, tosses a fleece during the senior woolhandling heats yesterday...
Lashara Anderson, of Invercargill, tosses a fleece during the senior woolhandling heats yesterday morning. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Alexandra shearer Mouse O’Neill was also a "strong contender" for the final.

"He’s a very capable shearer, and being a local lad, everybody will be behind him."

World champion woolhandler Joel Henare, of Alexandra, is also competing, as well as compering,  and Sir David Fagan will also attend. The championships finish today, featuring a novelty "Smokefree Teddy Bear Shear competition", where some of the industry’s "future shearers", many of whom are still in primary school, will shear their soft toys.

Tonight’s awards ceremony will include a Master Woolhandler presentation to Alexandra woolhandler and shearer Pagan Karauria, and the presentation of the inaugural Murray McSkimming Memorial Trophy, the recipient of which is still to be announced.


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