New annual sports awards set to become ‘Halbergs for the rural sector’

PALMERSTON NORTH (2 September, 2016) – Brand new awards celebrating sporting excellence among New Zealand’s rural athletes were launched today with organisers positioning the event as the ‘Halbergs for the rural sector’.

Rural sports associations are invited to nominate athletes for the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards presented by the New Zealand Rural Games Trust together with strategic partner, Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

Sir David Fagan

Sir David Fagan competes at the 2016 Hilux NZ Rural Games (credit – Paul Green)

An awards ceremony and gala dinner will be held at Awapuni Racecourse, Palmerston North on Friday 10 March 2017, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games at The Square in the city centre, where many nominees will be competing.

Margaret Kouvelis, Chair of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust and mayor of Manawatu District Council said the awards are designed to raise the profile of traditional sports like wood chopping, shearing, tree climbing and sheep dog trials and also recognise the important role such sports play in New Zealand society.

“You can make a good case for our top rural sportspeople being among the best athletes in New Zealand. They represent their country with as much pride as those in more familiar sports but their achievements go largely unnoticed. These new awards aim to put that right by showcasing their talent, dedication and success competing around the world,” she said.

“I would like to thank our naming sponsor Norwood for their support and the various rural sports associations and volunteers around the country for their tireless work staging events and promoting their sports.

“Our strategic partnership with Federated Farmers emphasises the important role played by rural sport in bringing together communities around the country in a sector that contributes billions of dollars each year to our national economy.”

Tim Myers, Chief Executive Officer at C B Norwood Distributors, said the group was excited to be involved.

“The fact that we can enjoy a great weekend here in Palmerston North allows us to reinforce our commitment to supporting the communities within which we operate. Secondly, the opportunity to demonstrate our strong and ongoing support for the rural sector with these new awards creates a nice synergy,” he said.

There are four separate categories: New Zealand Rural Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year and an award recognising Contribution to the New Zealand Rural Sports Industry.

Nominees will be shortlisted by a judging panel 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 plus three respected agricultural journalists, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, Tony Leggett and Jamie Mackay who will also MC the event.

Tickets to the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards dinner will be available from October. Anyone wanting to register their interest in reserving a table should contact Nicky Vallender at Event-It on 021 0335605.