Te Marae o Hine Palmerston North’s Square will ring to the sound of chainsaws and wood chopping, alongside many other farm animal noises, from sheep and horses to miniature ponies and working sheepdogs, for three days from Friday.
The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games is back and this time there is a heavy focus on youth to lift interest in the booming rural economy and rural sports.
Rural Games founder Steve Hollander said we’ve introduced several new initiatives like the Westpac Agri Futures careers day and expanded youth-related championships.
“We hope to nurture the next generation of rural sporting athletes and aid those interested in taking up many jobs and career opportunities available right now in rural New Zealand.”
The Allflex Clash of the Colleges has also grown, attracting teams from New Plymouth to Napier to Wairarapa and Paraparaumu. Sixty teams of agri-students will battle it out over 30 modules, including cowshed plant washdown, wool classing, body conditioning scoring, and paper-based modules covering seeds, weeds and fertilisers, and rural sports.
Mr Hollander said, “we’ve also created the Secondary School Shearing Championships (with a trophy donated by shearing legends Sir David Fagan and Rowland Smith) , there’ll be a special youth speed tree climbing event, and you will also get to see rookies compete with the axe, saw and chainsaw.”
This year, we welcome the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® championships to Palmy – women, men and rookies will compete over two days for the prime spot of representing New Zealand at the international champs.
The Mayor of Palmerston North, Grant Smith, said, “as it is Palmerston North’s 150th Anniversary there is no better way to mark it than the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games.”
“Our city was founded on the strength of agriculture and food which remains the backbone of our diverse economy today,” he said.
New Zealand Rural Games Trust Chair, Margaret Kouvelis said, “with our Australian rural sports athletes staying at home this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, we’ve had to make some changes.”
“We have created two battle of the sexes events in the speed tree climbing and sheepdog challenge, and the Southern Hemisphere Highlander Champion will see three big boys from Manawatū take on New Zealand.”
VIPs to the weekend include Sir John Kirwan, Tom Walsh, Tangaroa Walker from Farm4Life, TV funny guys Jono and Ben and many more.
Margaret Kouvelis said “the recent repeated Covid-19 level changes has been a hard thing to navigate. However, we have kept at it with the full support of our naming rights sponsors, Ford Ranger and Courtesy Ford and our host city Palmerston North.”
The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games, the Allflex Clash of the Colleges, the Agri Futures and New Zealand Rural Sports Awards will only be held in Palmerston North if the Covid-19 Level is at One.