A late change of plans to fly home in England in mid-March was just the ticket for Dorset farmer's son Henry Mayo on Friday as he became the first overseas shearer in 28 years to win a New Zealand Shears title in Te Kuiti.
Based for the summer at Pleasant Point in the South Island, the 20-year-old would have been 20,000kms away helping with the family on Manor Farm, Hermitage, in England, but for winning travel and accommodation in Te Kuiti in a Canterbury/Marlborough Development Circuit final at Sefton on March 10.
He wasted no time changing the flights, and it all paid-off on Friday when, again wasting no time, he scored his 10th win in 13 finals this season, with a margin of almost one-and-a-half points from runner-up and Northern Hawke's Bay teenager Atawhai Hadfield, who had won ten finals during the season in the North Island.
Mayo was the first shearer from overseas to win a Te Kuiti title since Andrew Devereall, also of England, but now long-time New Zealand-based and living in Tauranga, won the New Zealand Shears senior final in 1991.
It came at a time when most of the annual flight of young UK shearers to New Zealand had already headed home to the lambing beats more than a month ago.
While new to the sheep of the North Island, it took Mayo just 8min 15.7sec for the five second-shear sheep, almost 50 seconds quicker than next-man-off and fellow Canterbury Marlborough circuit representative Ben Forrester, of Leithfield.
Fourth to finish, Hadfield closed the gap with the best quality points but it wasn't enough to take the major prize.”
It completed a second season in New Zealand for Mayo, his wins this season dating back to the Waimate Spring Shears in the second weekend of October. He had his first win down-under the previous January.