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Shearing in new hands

The coronavirus crisis may be just the kick-start needed for a new era of the Poverty Bay A&P Show Shears which open the shearing sports season in the North Island today.

A week after the Waimate Shears successfully opened the South Island season, the Poverty Bay Shears in Gisborne open with a speedshear starting at 1pm today.

The bulk of more than 600 ewes prepared for the event will be shorn in the shearing and woolhandling grades tomorrow, starting at 8.30am and not expected to end before 5pm.

The new team running the Poverty Bay Shears had just four weeks to get it together after the go-ahead was given amid the relaxation of pandemic alert levels.

Shearing contractors Ian and Lilibeth Kirkpatrick have handed over the reins of running the competition after many years of service.

Stepping in are contractors Deano and Leonora Smith, with what Leonora says is a keen and enthusiastic group of helpers from the shearing gangs in the area.

“I don't think I knew what we were getting ourselves into,” said Leonora Smith, about the complexities of running a day's shearing and woolhandling competition.

Tomorrow's competition opens with novice shearing and woolhandling events, attracting mainly teenagers competing for the first time.

The novices should register by 8am, to take in the day's pre-competition demonstration as judges and competitors get the low-down on conditions for the day.

Among competitors this year are the area's own 2017 world woolhandling champions, Joel Henare and Maryanne Baty, while Waimate winner John Kirkpatrick will be back to defend the Poverty Bay Open shearing title. Te Kuiti shearer Jack Fagan, who also competed at Waimate, will also be shearing today and tomorrow.

Ian and Lilibeth Kirkpatrick retain a link, offering the advice needed for a seamless transition, and organising the sheep which come from farmers on their own run, with staff competing and helping during the day.

“We are really lucky we've got commitment from the local contractors,” said Leonora Smith. “We all share the workers at some time anyway.”

The speedshear this afternoon will be for Open and Senior shearers, while a clean shear will be held for the Intermediate grade. Tomorrow's competition will be in the Open, Senior, Intermediate, Junior and Novice shearing grades, and Open, Senior, Junior and Novice woolhandling grades.

A total of 51 shows are on the Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar from now through to early April.

Shearing: - The Open shearing final lineup at Poverty Bay last year, from left James Ruki, Cam Ferguson, David Buick and winner John Kirkpatrick, and his brother and brother-in-law, outgoing ling-time organisers Ian and Lilibeth Kirkpatrick SSNZ picture