Rural Games returns with a bang

The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games triumphantly returned to Palmerston North after a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The three-day event at Te Marae o Hine, Palmerston North’s The Square, attracted an impressive crowd of about 45,000 people, making it the largest edition of the games yet.

The weekend was packed with thrilling competitions in various rural sports such as wood chopping, coal shovelling, sheep shearing, gumboot throwing, and egg throw and catch. According to New Zealand Rural Games founder Steve Hollander, the quality of sportspeople on display was world-class.

“It was a fantastic weekend for rural sports, and in terms of attendance, Saturday was our busiest day yet.”

One standout performer was Jarna Mihare from Dannevirke, who set a new Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games record in the Stones category of the Sir Eion Edgar Southern Hemisphere Highlander Championship. Mihare’s incredible time of 25.43 seconds smashed the previous record by over 15 seconds. Other highlights included:

  • Central Hawke’s Bay’s Tony Bouskill took out the Speed Fencing Championship, pipping his son Tony at the post and ending his competition-winning streak, which lasted well over a year.
  • Marton’s Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Samuels won the Men’s Speed Shearing Championship, while Gore’s Sacha Bond won her first battle against Megan Whitehead.
  • Palmerston North’s Adam Miller is the Sir Eion Edgar Southern Hemisphere Highlander Heavy Champion.
  • Whanganui’s Daniel Purcell won the inaugural Golden Loader Championship.
  • Taumarunui’s Jack Jordan took out the TIMBERSPORTS® Men’s Championship – the morning after being named the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards Supreme winner.
  • Queensland’s Anne Paterson won the TIMBERSPORTS® Women’s Championship, with Tokoroa’s Cleveland Cherry taking out the TIMBERSPORTS® Rookie Championship.
  • Ashburton’s Craig Manson is the New Zealand Mens Gumboot Throwing champion, while Taihape’s Kristin Churchward is the Women’s Champion.
  • Team Waikato, Noel Galloway and Steph Dryfhout, took out the New Zealand Speed Tree Climbing Championship.
  • Reefton’s Richard Banks Snr. won the Men’s New Zealand Coal Shovelling Championship.

The weekend also featured the Allflex Clash of the Colleges, where 240 students from 10 different high schools from Napier to New Plymouth down to Paraparaumu and Greytown.

The event also included the popular Agri Futures Pathways expo, which showcased the vast range of opportunities available to young people in the future food and fibre sector and what the Mid Central North Island has to offer.

To make navigating the New Zealand Rural Games easier, a new event scheduling app called Wotsonwhere was introduced this year. Attendees were able to create personalised schedules, access maps of the event, and even had a chance to win a Winter Weekend Getaway in Queenstown valued at up to $5500 through the app. The lucky winner, Joanna Wenman of Palmerston North, was announced on More FM on Monday morning. Voting will soon begin for Manawatu’s Best Mullet Competition via Valley Studios’ website and Facebook page.

Overall, the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games was a resounding success, and the organisers greatly appreciated the community’s support and attendance.

“With such an outstanding turnout, it’s clear that rural sports continue to capture the hearts and minds of New Zealanders,” said Steve Hollander.

The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games 1-hour highlight programme hosted by Greg O’Connor and Olivia Caldwell:

  • TV 3: Saturday, April 1st, 2023, at 5.00pm
  • TV3: (Easter weekend replay), Saturday, April 8th, 2023, at 9.30am.


STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® New Zealand Championships:


  • 1st Jack Jordan – Taumarunui
  • 2nd: Jason Wynyard – Auckland
  • 3rd: Shane Jordan – Stratford


  • 1st: Anne Paterson – Blackbutt, Queensland, Australia
  • 2nd Emma Riddell – Nelson
  • 3rd Raewyn Windley – Rolleston


  • 1st Cleveland Cherry – Tokoroa
  • 2nd Sam Bellamy – Stratford
  • 3rd Matthew Gower – Whangamomoa

Golden Loader Forestry Championship

  • 1st Daniel Purcell – Whanganui
  • 2nd: Shaun Allen – Kaitaia
  • 3rd: Colin Bush – Hawke’s Bay

NZ Speed Fencing Championship | Te Tātāwhāinga Whakatū Taiapa Hohoro O Aotearoa brought to you by Future Post & NZ Fencing Competitions in association with Summit Steel and Fencing Contractors NZ:

  • 1st Shane Bouskill, Tirokino
  • 2nd Tony Bouskill, Napier
  • 3rd Tim Garrick, Gisborne
  • 1st Battening: Tony Bouskill
  • 2nd Battening: Shane Bouskill
  • 3rd Battening: Bernard Condon, Whanganui

The McFall Fuel North Island Secondary School Shearing Championship:

  • 1st team: Feilding High School
  • 2nd team: Napier Boys High School
  • 3rd team: Palmerston North Boys High School
  • 1st Individual Quality Shearer: Lachie Cameron, Feilding High School
  • Best Wool Handler: Grace Carman, Feilding High School

The Sam Strahan Memorial Sheep Dog Trials Challenge | Te Whakamātau Kurī Whiuwhiu Hipi – in association with PTS Logistics:

  • 1st team: Paul Evans (Whanganui), Gavin Drake (Hunterville), Josh Brennan (Rangiwahia), Bruce Parkinson (Raetihi)
  • 2nd team: Kate White (Taupō), Robyn Stephens (Te Kuiti), Laura Greering (Wairoa), Jo McIntyre (Raglan)

New Zealand Gumboot Throwing Championship | / Te Tātāwhāinga Maka Kamupūtu O Aotearoa – in association with Skellerup:


  • 1st: Craig Manson, Ashburton – South Island – 42.33m
  • 2nd: Stu McNie, Raetihi – North Island – 40.45m
  • 3rd: Ben MacManus – North Island – 37.84m


  • 1st: Kristin Churchward, Taihape – North Island – 33.28m
  • 2nd: Maia-Jade Cross Taihape – North Island – 28.72m
  • 3rd : Dell Adams, Taihape – North Island – 28.23m
  • 2nd: Maia-Jade Cross Taihape – North Island – 28.72m

The New Zealand Rural Games Trust Egg Throw and Catch New Zealand Championship:

  • 1st: Johnny Southee and Tui Amosa – 55m
  • 2nd: Perry Mavor and Jacob Smith – 50m
  • 3rd: Ingram Leger and William Leger – 40m

Speed Tree Climbing Championship (pairs) | Te Taumāhekeheke Piki Rākau ā Ira in association with Guardian Tree Services and Husqvarna:

  • 1st Team Waikato – Noel Galloway and Steph Dryfhout – 158.04 points
  • 2nd Team Auckland – Sam Turner and Brianna Uivel – 139.54 points
  • 3rd Team Wellington – Sam Smith and Sam Fraser – 136.89 points
  • 4th Team South Island – Dominik Ritter and Ruby McNabb – 134.08 points
  • Foot lock 1st Man: Sam Smith – Wellington – 18.21s
  • Foot lock 1st Woman: Steph Dryfhout – Tauranga – 28.74s
  • Work climb 1st Man: Sam Smith – Wellington – 69 points
  • Work climb 1st Woman: Steph Dryfhout – Tauranga – 64.67 points

The Sir Eion Edgar Southern Hemisphere Highlander Champion | Te Tātāwhāinga Tuakoi Tonga O Ngā Toa Kahupeka – in association with Forsyth Barr:

  • 1st: Adam Miller – Palmerston North
  • 2nd: Jarna Mihare – Dannevirke
  • 3rd: Luke ‘Blue Mountains’ Reynolds – NSW, Australia

New Zealand Speed Shearing Championship | Te Tātāwhāinga Kuti Hipi Hohoro O Aotearoa:

  • 1st Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Samuels (two sheep) – Marton
  • 2nd Brett Roberts (two sheep) – Mataura
  • 3rd Toa Henderson (one sheep) – Kaiwaka

Women’s Speed Championship:

  • 1st Sacha Bond – Gore
  • 2nd Megan Whitehead – Woodville

New Zealand Coal Shovelling Championship with Lumberland

  • 1st team: Choppers (Norm Cherry, Shane Campbell, Ali Collis, Daniel Blenkiron (Manawatu) – 13.50s
  • Men’s Doubles 1st: Curly Troon (Taihape) & Richard Banks Snr. (Reefton) – 20.45s
  • Women’s Doubles 1st: Dell Adams (Taihape) & Leah Savage – 36.52s
  • Men’s Singles 1st: Richard Banks Snr., Reefton – 30.54s
  • Men’s Singles 2nd: Daniel Blenkiron – 32.10s

Courtesy Ford Haystacking

1st: Robbie Hollander – 11 seconds (new Rural Games record)

Speights Bill Tapley Memorial Cow Pat Throw in association with FFNZ Manawatu Branch:

  • 1st Place: Ashley McGrechan – 27m
  • 2nd Place: Carter Pugh
  • 1st Under 12 boys: Arjen Nieuwland – 18.8m
  • 2nd Under 12 boys: Kelson Nieuwland – 17.4m
  • 3rd Under 12 boys: Johnny Thomas
  • 1st Under 12 girls: Jahzeiah Parkinson-Batt – 11.5m
  • 2nd Under 12 girls: Pipi Cudby – 11.1m
  • 3rd Under 12 girls: Prairie Cudby – 10.9m

Tiger Turf Man & Mutt Race with Skellerup:

  • 1st: Olivia with Auri
  • 2nd: James Denham with Shade
  • 3rd: Zane with Rose
  • 4th: Natalie Alhome with Star
  • 5th: Adelaide Hodgar with Toby

Allflex Clash of the Colleges

  • Senior first place (grand prize winners): Napier Boys High School
  • Senior second place: Rathkeale College
  • Senior third place: Feilding High School
  • Junior first place: Feilding High School
  • Junior second place: Rathkeale College
  • Junior third place: Woodford House
  • Gumboot throwing best team: Francis Douglas Memorial College
  • Spot prize winners for communication and teamwork: Queen Elizabeth College and Paraparaumu College.


Rural Games returns with a bang

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