Wanganui Chronicle

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

RURAL and provincial New Zealand got to show off last weekend.

The 2017 Hilux Rural Games got off to a great start on Friday with the Running of the Wools in Feilding. The event drew a good crowd who delighted in witnessing 1000 sheep racing from the saleyards, through the centre of town, around Manchester Square and back again.

It's the first time the Games have ever been hosted by Manawatu or held in the North Island. It's great so many people came out to support the various activities that were held over the three days.

Feilding played host on Friday while the action moved to Palmerston North during the weekend.

I think Games founder and trustee Steve Hollander said it best when he said the Rural Games are a celebration of "sports that built a nation" and represent the best of rural New Zealand.

Our former Mayor of Manawatu, Margaret Kouvelis, is the chairwoman of the NZ Rural Games Trust. She was integral in the event being moved from Queenstown to Palmerston North.

According to Margaret, whether you live in the city or you live in the country, it's important to celebrate our agribusiness.

The aim of the rural games is to give back something of our legacy to the next generation.

A lot of what makes us who we are is based on our rural roots and values. It's our "give it a go" attitude, our Kiwi ingenuity, our No 8 wire mentality, our sense of fun and adventure - it's even the modesty that is reflected by our great athletes.

Among the competition disciplines that featured in the Rural Games were gumboot, egg and cowpat throwing as well as wood chopping, speed shearing, dog trialling and fencing.

The man and mutt race with shepherds and their dogs was a crowd favourite, and the gumboot throwing was a popular event too.

There were some big names among the competitors in the gumboot throw, with Dame Valerie Adams taking first place in the women's event.

Bulls' own Becs Symes took the silver with an impressive throw in pretty trying conditions, while in third place was New Zealand record-holder Kristin Churchward from Taihape.

In the men's event, Whanganui's James Kellow beat current New Zealand record-holder and Olympic decathlete Brent Newdick into second place.

Mahe Drysdale was a keen competitor but didn't make it to the podium.

A host of fun have-a-go contests for all ages throughout the weekend included Fonterra speed milking, Toyota hay bale stacking, cowpat tossing and kids' tree-climbing sessions run by the NZ Arboricultural Association.

The Hilux Rural Games held in our region and by our region over three days celebrated all that is good about rural and provincial life.

I'm picking they'll be back and I'd urge you to take the time to catch some of the action.

"The aim of the rural games is to give back something of our legacy to the next generation.

A lot of what makes us who we are is based on our rural roots and values."