The New Zealand Rural Sports Awards 2023 have recognised and celebrated the extraordinary achievements and dedication of rural sports athletes and supporters. The winners were announced during a gala dinner at Awapuni Racecourse in Palmerston North.
Nathan Twaddle, the Judging Panel Convenor of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards, said it was an exciting evening celebrating those who have made a lasting impact on the rural sporting community. Twaddle praised the young athletes, lifetime achievers, and those who work behind the scenes to ensure rural sports thrive.
The 2023 New Zealand Rural Sports Awards winners are an impressive group of athletes and supporters from diverse backgrounds. They include:
- Jack Jordan from Taumarunui, winner of the New Zealand Rural Sports Supreme Award and the PTS Logistics New Zealand Rural Sportsman of the Year Award
- Megan Whitehead from Gore, winner of the Skellerup New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year Award
- Cameron Leslie MNZM from Tutakaka, winner of the Future Post Rural Sportsperson with a Disability Award
- Reuben Alabaster from Taihape, winner of the Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson
Eileen Smith from Waimate, Deirdre Bartlett from Opake, Wairarapa, Elizabeth Mortland from Taihape, and Patsy Shirley from Lumsden are joint winners of the Levno Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rural Sports Award. Jason Wynyard from Kawakawa, Reuben de Jong from Auckland, and Dr Luk Chin from Tamahere, Waikato, are joint winners of The Courtesy Ford Lifetime Legacy Award.
Kerri Williams nee Gowler MNZM is the winner of The Sir Brian Lochore Memorial Award for Outstanding Sportsperson from a Rural Background. Finally, Jack Jordan was named the Supreme New Zealand Rural Sportsperson Award winner, recognising his outstanding achievements and dedication to his sport.
The evening was all the more special by the attendance of special guests, including Comedians Jono and Ben, Paralympian Gold Medallist Javelin Thrower Holly Robinson MNZM, Commonwealth Games Hammer Throw Gold Medallist Julia Ratcliffe, Ian Kirkpatrick MBE, and cricketer Adam Milne, also presented awards and added to the excitement of the event.
The New Zealand Rural Sports Awards celebrate the remarkable achievements and dedication of rural athletes and supporters who significantly promote and sustain rural sports in Aotearoa. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists!