Hairdresser stuns merino field

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Ebony Turipa has won the New Zealand Open Merino Shearing Championships senior woolhandling title for the second time in a row.

The Gore woolhandler’s victory is remarkable as she had not worked consistently in the sheds since May last year, before her daughter, Meelah, was born.

“I was pretty much fulltime up until then,” Ms Turipa said.

Last year’s win and the birth of Meelah made 2016 a special year for Ms Turipa.

She previously worked for Jason Davis Shearing but then turned her hand to hairdressing.

She is a trainee hairdresser at Vogue Hair and Beauty in Mataura and is finding the steady 9am to 5pm hours more family friendly.

But she is still drawn to the shearing industry.

Ms Turipa’s woolhandling victory in Alexandra was no mean feat considering she came up against 23 competitors in the senior section.

She will move up to the open section next season.

Ms Turipa said her biggest challenge was keeping fit.

When asked what made a good woolhandler, she said being focused on the task at hand was essential.

“You have to love your job.”

The first time Ms Turipa worked with merino wool she became frustrated. There was a lot of sorting to do compared with crossbreds and there were socks, locks, seconds and pizzles.

“You learn a lot on merinos – crossbreds are straightforward.”

After her initial introduction to the breed she came to enjoy working with merinos. They were not as dirty or greasy as crossbreds, she said.

Ms Turipa has always enjoyed sports, so woolhandling was an extension of that passion, she said.

The fast-paced adrenaline-pumping industry always keep her interested and challenged.

Her father, Dave, is a shearer and she worked with her father earlier in her career.

The physicality of the industry drew Ms Turipa and meeting people and travelling were a bonus, she said.

It was easy to become addicted not only to the shearing industry but the way of life and the family atmosphere, she said.

Her partner, Jordan Boyes, is shearing in Australia, where she has also worked.

Ms Turipa was also runner-up in World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill in February.

Shearing Sports New Zealand media officer Doug Laing said the New Zealand merino championships attracted 126 entries, with 51 in the two shearing classes and 75 in the three woolhandling classes.

The shearing sports season continues at the Longwool 50th anniversary New Zealand Spring Shears in the South Canterbury town of Waimate on Friday and Saturday.