Sports stars & celebrities out in force to celebrate New Zealand’s leading rural athletes

An array of sporting, television, radio and social media stars will be out in force at the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games, the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards and the Property Brokers Running of the Wools.

Margaret Kouvelis, Chair of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust, says it is fantastic to have such a great line-up of New Zealand’s premier sporting stars to come and help celebrate our leading rural athletes.

“We’re anticipating huge crowds. We’ve got people traveling here from around New Zealand and they’ll be boosted by a big local crowd especially if the fine weather holds out.”

The events have attracted a range of sportspeople:

  • All Black Coach Steve Hansen (Awards)
  • Olympian and current Athlete Life Advisor for High Performance Sport NZ Nathan Twaddle
  • Emirates Team New Zealand members Ray Davies, Guy Endean, Simon van Velthooven and Sean Regan
  • Former All Black George Whitelock
  • Former Black Sticks captain Kayla Sharland
  • Olympic silver medalist Natalie Rooney (Awards and Games)
  • Olympian and Commonwealth Games cyclist Cath Cheatley (Fit4Farming – Running of the Wools)
  • Toyota Brand Ambassador, NZ personality and entrepreneur Marc Ellis

Alongside this, Margaret Kouvelis says the weekend of events has also attracted another sort of star – TV, social media and radio stars!

  • Nickson, Nate and Lilly from Auckland’s number one music radio station Mai FM will broadcast their Breakfast Show from the Games on Friday Morning. Nickson Clark will stay on to co-host the Games over the weekend with the legendary Mark Leishman
  • Rhys Mathewson from Three’s The Project will be in town covering the event for The Project (Awards and Games)
  • New Zealand’s most loved Dad – social media star Jordan Watson AKA How to Dad (Kids ‘n Country and Gumboot Throwing at the Games and Red Bandal Race at the Property Brokers Running of the Wools)
  • The Country’s Jamie MacKay will host the Sport Awards and rural journalist’s Craig Wiggy Wiggins and Tony Leggett will attend all three events.

“The games celebrate our strong and vibrant rural history, so it’s great to see sporting and media stars taking part and giving the local community the opportunity to see all these sports in action,” says Andrew Davis, Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager of Marketing.

“It will also be a fitting weekend to celebrate the success of another long term Toyota partnership with the America’s Cup coming to the Manawatu,” says Mr Davis.

“The cup will feature as part of the Toyota Kids Zone and gives a great opportunity for everyone across the wider region to come and see one of the sporting world’s greatest treasures.”

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games Founder Steve Hollander says the three events just keep growing and growing.

“I’m so pleased with our move to Manawatu – We came here because of its rural roots and we thought it a good location to grow. What we found is a great group of people and businesses who are supportive of helping ensure the sports that built our nation will continue to be celebrated so that we as Kiwis, won’t lose them.”

Mr Hollander says as well as the stars of today are the stars of yesteryear Sir Brian Lochore, Sir David Fagan and Judy ‘Tinks’ Pottinger who are on the Rural Sports Awards judging panel will be here as well.

“Very soon we will announce the star athletes from Australia and New Zealand who’ll be competing for the most sort after titles in their disciplines.”

“Next week we’ll be announcing the finalists in the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards which will be held at Awapuni this year,” says Mr Hollander.

For more information:

Steve Hollander
New Zealand Rural Games


Margaret Kouvelis
New Zealand Rural Games Trust