Shepherd's Delight in Novice Shearing Final

Farm shepherd Mark Baxter had a handy sort of role model to get him on the way in father and former YFC national Young Farmer of the Year Shaun.

But it took fiance Samantha Pritchard to really show him the way which led to a win today in the Golden Shears Novice Shearing final at the end of the first day of the 57th annual shearing and woolhandling championships in Masterton.

The 23-year-old, whose father and mother Tracie farm Wairakau Station, between Pongaroa and the coast south of Dannevirke, said he's done little shearing, and only started competing to follow girlfriend and now fiance Samantha, whom he will marry in November.

She and her brothers had started doing the shearing shows, but Baxter said: "I'm still a shepherd."

But it's become something more than that in the remote Southern Hawke's Bay and Northern Wairarapa community, with the evolving Team Pongaroa playing an even bigger part in the six-man final over two sheep each.

Shearing on Stand Five, Baxter was first off the board, with his back to future brother-in-law Leam Pritchard who was next off in just over 5min 57sec, while also in the final was the winner's own brother, Andrew Baxter.

Ultimately Baxter had a winning margin of almost four-and-a-half points over runner-up and Gisborne youngster Richmond Ngarangione, unable to emulate sister Aromia Ngarangione, who had just won the Novice woolhandling final.

Third place went to Massey University student Ariana Hadfield, daugher of 2015 Ahuwhenua Maori Excellence in Farming Award winners and Northern Hawke's Bay farmers Bart and Nuku Hadfield.

Baxter's father was YFC Farmer of the Year in 1997, and won the Tararua District Sheep and Beef Farm Business if the Year Award.

Results of finals on the opening day of the 57th Golden Shears International shearing and woolhandling championships being held in Masterton on March 2-4:


Golden Shears Novice Shearing final (2 sheep): Mark Baxter (Pongaroa) 5min 9.975sec, 31.999pts, 1; Richmond Ngarangione (Gisborne) 6min 11.868sec, 35.593pts, 2; Ariana Hadfield (Wairoa) 8min 1.219sec, 37.061pts, 3; Leam Pritchard (Pongaroa) 39.359pts, 4; Flynn Harvey (Kaitaia) 8min 8.954pts, 5; 40.448pts, 5; Andrew Baxter (Pongaroa) 6min 32.665sec, 42.133pts, 6.

Golden Shears Novice Woolhandling Championship final (Aromia Ngarangione (Gisborne) 46.2pts, 1; Georgia Oliverr (Masterton) 59.6pts, 2; Mize Peneha (Masterton) 73.4pts, 3; Shyla Karaitiana (Masterton) 91.4pts, 4.


Below: Pongaroa shepherd Mark Baxter speaks to stadium commentator Tuma Mullins while he awaits the result of the Golden Shears Novice Sheariung final he won in Masterton today.


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