The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games will host the inaugural Golden Loader Forestry Championship in Palmerston North on Sunday, 12 March.
The championship, funded by the Forestry Growers Levy Trust and organised by the Southern North Island Wood Council, will feature a competition in which two competitors race against each other and the clock to load and unload a truck and trailer unit in The Square. Team members from John Turkington Limited and McCarthy’s Transport will manage the championship.
New Zealand Rural Games Founder Steve Hollander said it has been a long-term ambition of the Rural Games to host a forestry championship alongside traditional sports that helped to build our nation.
“Forestry is a huge part of rural Aotearoa. It’s only fitting that we celebrate its role by creating a championship highlighting the skills required to drive forestry machinery.”
Southern North Island Wood Council Chief Executive Officer Erica Kinder said the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games provides forestry with an excellent opportunity to lift the sector’s profile. Forestry is growing, and currently contributes $6.6 billion to our economy and employs between 35,000-40,000 people*.
“Forestry is one of the fastest-growing sectors within the food and fibre sector,” said Erica. “There are fewer exotic forests in New Zealand than a decade ago. However, with more being planted on highly erodible soils, adopting new technology, an increasing commitment to sustainability and higher returns, it is a buoyant sector that needs more skilled people.”
Tony Groome MNZM manages the Golden Loader Forestry Championship. He is a forestry manager with a long history in the sector, alongside Rural/ Urban Fire and Land Search and Rescue.
“Two competitors will compete against each other and the clock to load and unload a truck and trailer unit. Only those who live near forestry blocks or work in the sector get to see this type of action, so it’s great to showcase it in the heart of Palmerston North and to the rest of the country through the Rural Games and TV3.”
Tony said entries are limited to 24 and only those who currently work in the sector and have their loader ticket can participate.
The Golden Loader Forestry Championship will be run on Sunday, 12 March from 9:00am to 1:30pm. Highlights of the Championship will be included in the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games 1-hour special on TV3.
Erica Kinder said the Southern North Island Wood Council is also taking the opportunity to highlight all the skills required to make a successful forestry career as they have changed dramatically in recent years.
“We will be talking with rangatahi at Agri Futures careers day on Friday 10 March about the new skill sets that we need across the sector. Everything from GIS and mapping skills through to computer analytics, drone operators, heavy machinery drivers, roading engineers, environmental scientists and planners.”
Erica said the team would also create two modules in the Allflex Clash of the Colleges that cover tree identification, log grading and operating a waratah simulator.
“The Clash of the Colleges provides young people with an invaluable hands-on opportunity to test their knowledge and learn new skills about forestry and other food and fibre sectors,” said Erica.