Trans-Tasman ‘heavies’ to square off in Highland Games

Trans-Tasman rivalries will be on display this weekend as top ‘heavies’ battle to prove who is the strongest during a special Highland Games tournament at the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games in Queenstown.

Pat Hellier

Pat Hellier

The inaugural NZ Rural Highland Games Heavies Trans-Tasman Competition, presented by the Caledonian Society of Otago in association with PlaceMakers, takes place on the Recreation Ground in downtown Queenstown from 11am to 1pm this Saturday, 7 February.

The event will see six giant athletes square off over the four traditional ‘heavy’ events of caber toss, stones lift, farmer’s walk and heavy stone toss to find the overall winner of the NZ Rural Games Trust Highland Games Heavies Championship trophy.

New Zealand athletes, Reuben de Jong, Jono Macfarlane and Cole Lemalu are looking forward to some solid competition from their Australian counterparts, Luke Reynolds, Aaron Monks and Moe Westmoreland, in what promises to be a fantastic show of strength and athletic ability.

The New Zealand team boasts a formidable lineup. At 6’8”, de Jong is a former New Zealand Strongman Champion, Macfarlane is the current holder of the New Zealand Highland Games title, and Wellington policeman Lemalu is looking to stamp his authority on proceedings.

Experienced Australian competitor Moe Westmoreland, who has competed in Highland Games around the world, is looking forward to putting on a show for the crowd: “I’m fit and ready to go. The team and I can’t wait to meet everyone involved with this massive event, and we hope we can pump up the crowd like we do here in Oz!”

The event is being managed and judged by New Zealand’s most successful Highland Games athlete of all time, Pat Hellier, winner of 18 consecutive New Zealand Highland Heavyweight Games championships. Pat is excited about the prospect of such a high quality match-up happening in Queenstown.

“It should be a really close competition this weekend. The Kiwi boys have just had a great showing at the Highland Games up north in Waipu, and the Aussies have been doing really well over the Ditch in their strongman competitions. It should make for a great spectacle,” he says.

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games founder and trustee, Steve Hollander, thinks the opportunity to showcase the four ‘heavy’ Highland Games events is a perfect fit for the Rural Games and a great opportunity to promote the sports to a wider audience.

“As far as I’m aware, this is the first time a Highland Games competition of this level has been held in Queenstown. I’m looking forward to seeing what these big lads can do, especially with a bit of traditional trans-Tasman rivalry thrown in,” he said.

Jono Macfarlane

Jono Macfarlane (image – Matt Rossiter)

Reuben de Jong

Reuben de Jong (image – Matt Rossiter)