Leading rural sporting stars recognised by their peers

The winners of the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards have been announced at a gala dinner at Awapuni in Palmerston North on the eve of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games.

Sir Brian Lochore, Chair of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards Judging Panel, says the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards is about celebrating traditional sports and the people who keep events running year-in and year-out in the towns and settlements across New Zealand.

“We had a fantastic line-up of entrants and finalists for each category. Our 2018 winners have proven themselves on the field of their rural sport or in the committee room organising rural sporting events around New Zealand,” says Sir Brian.

Tim Myers, Chief Executive Officer at C B Norwood Distributors, congratulated both the winners and finalists.

“It has been a truly inspirational evening, hearing about the dedication and commitment of our rural athletes to their sport, and the standing they have on the international arena,” Mr Myers said. 

The winners are:

The Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year: Tegan O’Callaghan of Doubtless Bay. Last year, at the age of 17, O’Callaghan became the captain of the New Zealand Rodeo High School Team in 2017 and has been a member of the team for three years. This year, O’Callaghan is part of the Australasian Team at the World Rodeo Youth Championships in Shawnee, Oklahoma, USA in July 2018. Alongside this, in 2016, O’Callaghan won the junior New Zealand Wine Barrel Race. The award was presented by Commonwealth Games Medallist Natalie Rooney.

The Norwood Rural Sportsman of the Year: John Kirkpatrick  of Napier. John has won 149 open finals in New Zealand including Golden Shears (four times) and the New Zealand Champs (two times). He is the 2017 World Champion – Individual Shearing and the 2017 World Champion – Teams (two shearers). As well as running his own contracting business, Kirkpatrick, competes in more than 60 national competitions each year and world championships every 2-3 years. This is his 25th season of open class shearing. He has won 20 titles in the United Kingdom and represented New Zealand at four World Championships.

The Skellerup New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year: Chrissy Spence of Morrinsville. Spence was the inaugural winner of this award in 2017. That same year, Spence lifted the bar taking out an unprecedented fifth world title at the 2017 International Tree Climbing Championship. Spence has five International Tree Climbing Championship titles (2005, 2007, 2011, 2016, 2017), six New Zealand National Women’s Championship titles (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010), and four Asia-Pacific titles (2008, 2009, 2010, 2015). 

The award was presented by Steve Hansen, coach NZ All Blacks and Skellerup’s Perry Davis and Deborah Allan.

The Federated Farmers Contribution to the New Zealand Rural Sports Industry: Jude McNabb of Owaka. McNabb is secretary of Shearing Sport’s New Zealand South Island committee, and runs her own business. She was secretary for the New Zealand Shearing Foundation, which was established to run the 40th Anniversary World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships for which she was the event manager. More than 30 countries were represented and 12,000 spectators attended. The championships were named New Zealand International Event of the Year at the NZ Events Association awards. In August, McNabb was appointed secretary of Shearing Sports New Zealand. By the end of the year she was also helping organise the Southern Shears and a Southern Field Days Speed Shear, both held in Gore in February. The award was presented by Sir Brian Lochore and Federated Farmers vice president Andrew Hoggard.

The inaugural Toyota Lifetime Legacy Award:  Paul van Beers from Porangahau. Van Beers retired from competing in 2016 after a fall from a horse on his sheep and beef farm. His competition career spanned the 1990s to 2016. No one else has ever – or is likely to ever again – repeat the staggering number of wins and podium finishes van Beers had through his 31-year competitive fencing career. He has under his belt 14 Wiremark Golden Pliers New Zealand National Singles Championship Titles, 12 Fieldays Silver Spades New Zealand National Doubles Championship Titles and two Patura World Power Fencing Champion Titles. In 2014 he was half of the first father and son (Jason) combination to win the Fieldays Silver Spades. Paul continues to help drive NZFC. The award was presented by Ray Davies, Simon van Velthooven, Guy Endean and Sean Regan from Emirates Team NZ and Andrew Davis General Manager Marketing Toyota NZ.

The judging panel is chaired by former All Black captain and World Cup winning coach, Sir Brian Lochore, who is also a founding board member of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust. The other judges are rural sports icon and 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, and respected agricultural journalists Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, Tony Leggett and Jamie Mackay.

Nominations for the awards are made by rural sports associations from throughout Aotearoa.

A full list of finalists can be found below.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a category winner please contact:

Daniel O’Regan


The finalists in the five prestigious 2018 Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Award categories were:

  • The Norwood New Zealand Rural Sportsman of the Year:
    • Corey Church (Rotorua) – Rodeo
    • James Kilpatrick (Tauranga) –Tree Climbing
    • Shane Bouskill (Waipawa) – Fencing
    • John Kirkpatrick (Napier) – Shearing
  • The Skellerup New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year:
    • Maryanne Baty (Gisborne) – Shearing
    • Chrissy Spence (Morrinsville) – Tree Climbing
  • The Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year
    • Rebecca Birkett (Taumarunui) – Endurance Horses
    • Tegan O’Callaghan (Doubtless Bay) – Rodeo
    • Robbie Hollander (Dairy Flat) – Egg Throwing & Catching
  • The Federated Farmers Contribution to the New Zealand Rural Sports Industry
    • Jason Semenoff (Hikurangi) – Wood Chopping
    • Nick Liefting (Auckland) – Fencing
    • Jude McNab (Owaka) – Shearing
  • The inaugural Toyota Lifetime Legacy Award:
    • Paul van Beers (Porangahau) – Fencing
    • Hugh McCarroll (Whangamata) – Shearing
    • Elizabeth Mortland (Taihape) – Gumboot Throwing