Inaugural rural sports awards nominees named

by Anonymous Author

National and world champions in traditional sports like shearing, wood chopping, fencing, tree climbing and gumboot throwing feature among the nominees for the inaugural Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards.

Launched to celebrate sporting excellence among New Zealand’s largely unsung rural athletes, the awards are sponsored by CB Norwood Distributors and presented by the New Zealand Rural Games Trust together with Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

Organisers have announced the full list of finalists in four separate categories ahead of the awards dinner at Awapuni Racecourse on March 10, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games where several of the nominees will be competing.


The shortlist for the New Zealand Rural Sportsman of the Year includes 2016 Wiremark Golden Pliers winner and 2015 world champion fencer, Shane Bouskill (Hawke’s Bay); current national tree climbing champion and three-time world champion, Scott Forrest (Kawerau, Bay of Plenty); plus reigning Golden Shears and New Zealand shearing champion and 2016 world champion, Rowland Smith (Hastings).

The New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year award nominees include New Zealand gumboot throwing champion and women’s national record holder, Kristen Churchward (Taihape); reigning world tree climbing champion, Chrissy Spence (Gisborne); and shearer and woolhandler, Pagan Karauria (Alexandra). Pagan was nominated as the outstanding woman in most major shearing events in New Zealand last year. 

In the Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year, the nominees are Brody Channings (Hunterville), winner of the Bill Schuler Novice Round at the 2016 NZ National Fencing Championships; Jack Jordan (Taranaki), winner of three underhand open wood chopping world titles last year; and New Zealand women’s junior shearing champion, Angela Stevens (Napier).

The nominees for the final award, Contribution to the Rural Sports Industry, include endurance horse rider, trainer and official Wendy Farnell (Ashburton); fencer Paul Van Beers (Masterton), a 13-time winner of the Wiremark Golden Pliers trophy; and Lance Waddell (Whangarei), nominated for services to Shearing Sports NZ.

Award presenters will include Olympians Mahe Drysdale, who is also guest speaker at the awards dinner, Dame Valerie Adams and Genevieve Behrent, a silver medallist in the women’s rowing pair at last year’s Rio Olympics. 

Nominees were shortlisted by a judging panel chaired by former All Blacks captain and World Cup winning coach, Sir Brian Lochore.

The panel also included president of Shearing Sports New Zealand Sir David Fagan, Olympic equestrian medallist Judy ‘Tinks’ Pottinger, MP for Taranaki-King Country Barbara Kuriger, founder and trustee of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games Steve Hollander, plus three agricultural journalists, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, Tony Leggett and Jamie Mackay, who will also MC the event.