The New Zealand rural sports community gathered at Awapuni in Palmerston North to honour their best and brightest.
The winners of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards were announced at a gala dinner this evening, on the eve of the New Zealand Rural Games.
The Awards recognise both high performance athletes and the people who work behind the scenes, are now in their third year. Finalists have come from fields as diverse as shearing, tree climbing, harness racing and cowboy shooting.
Sir Brian Lochore, Chair of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards Judging Panel, says the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards is about celebrating traditional sports and the people who keep events running yearin and yearout in the towns and settlements across New Zealand.
“We had a fantastic lineup of entrants and finalists for each category. Our 2019 winners have proven themselves on the field of their rural sport or in the committee room organising rural sporting events around New Zealand,” says Sir Brian.
The winners are:
The Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year:
Bradley McDowell of Whanganui: Bradley first started cowboy shooting at 12 years old, and has been New Zealand junior champion in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Bradley is currently New Zealand North Island overall men’s champion, New Zealand overall men’s champion, Wyoming State junior champion, 2018 World junior champion, 2018 Worlds fastest junior cowboy title, and is currently ranked seventh in the World overall men’s Championships. Bradley achieved his World title at the age of 16 and is youngest New Zealand shooter to do so. Bradley’s goal is to become the world’s number one shooter and to get more young people introduced to the sport in New Zealand. The award was presented by Olympic and Commonwealth Games triathlete Tony Dodds.
The New Zealand Rural Sportsman of the Year:
Tony Bouskill of Napier: Tony won the Wiremark Golden Pliers in 2018, after coming second and third in the previous two years. He and father Shane have teamed up to win the doubles competitions at the Fieldays Silver Spades competition twice, and he has won the Taumarunui Fencing Competition for the last four years in a row and had three wins at the Waverley competition. In 2018 Tony took out titles at the Taumarunui A&P Show, the Wiremark Golden Pliers and Silver Spades at Fieldays, Hawke’s Bay A&P Show doubles competition, and Cambridge A&P Show doubles competition, and was second in the Central Districts doubles competition. He also qualified to compete at World Power Fencing in Germany 2019. The Wiremark Golden Pliers is recognised worldwide as the premium fencing championship. Tony was first off the line (fastest time), which combined with winning the overall title, was a significant combination. Only five competitors, including Tony, have achieved this combination over the competition’s history. This award was presented by Sir Pat Higgins, a major benefactor of the NZ Rural Games Trust.
The New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year:
Pagan Karauria of Alexandra: Last year, Pagan achieved Master Woolhandler status, and took out the Open Woolhandling title at the New Zealand Merino Shearing and Woolhandling Championships for the third time in four years. This would be a major achievement for anyone, but it comes 10 years after a devastating car accident that left her with a broken back. Pagan has fought back from that injury to take the 2018 New Zealand crossbred lambs woolhandling championship in Winton, the first Royal Easter Show Open final in Auckland, and her third New Zealand Merino Championships Open title in four years in hometown Alexandra. Her aim for this season is to win a spot in the Shearing Sports New Zealand team for the World Championships in Le Dorat, France, in July.
Recently Pagan featured in the New Zealand documentary film She Shears, focusing on women making their way in shearing. Pagan has also been a successful competitive shearer, winning many titles in recent years. This award was presented by Netball icons Katrina Rore and Sandra Edge.
The Contribution to the New Zealand Rural Sports Industry Award:
David James of Blenheim: David James has been involved in the New Zealand National Tree Climbing Competition since 1999. He coordinated and ran the South Island Regional Tree Climbing Competitions for eleven years before taking over as the National Coordinator in 2010. In 2012 David joined the AsiaPacific Tree Climbing Championship Operations Committee and was appointed chairman in 2015, a role he still holds. He is currently working on one of the biggest events the competition has seen, to be held in Christchurch Botanic Gardens in April 2019. He has represented and championed the tree climbing sector on the NZ Arb Executive Committee for nine years and represents New Zealand at the International Society of Arboriculture. David is a respected judge at the ITCC World Championship and chairman of the AsiaPacific Tree Climbing Championship Operations Committee. His contribution to Arboricultural Tree Climbing in New Zealand has seen the sport grow from a sideline conference event to a streamlined show attracting sponsorship and international competitors. David has created a legacy of technical, scoring and regional coordinators. He has introduced a ‘kidsclimb’ to inspire the young and a New Arborist competition to recognise and encourage excellence in those new to the industry. He also has built a network of volunteers that not only make the competitions run seamlessly, but create a community of travelling supporters alongside those competing in the events themselves.
In 2016 David introduced a Volunteer of the Year Award to the New Zealand Arboricultural Association’s annual awards to celebrate, recognise and strengthen members of this community. Tim van de Molen, MP for Waitako and previous Supreme winner of the NZ Young Farmer Of The Year award, presented this award.
The Lifetime Legacy Award:
Hugh McCarroll of Whangamata: At 78, Hugh is the oldest finalist. He is a former winner of the Golden Shears Intermediate shearing title in 1967 and the over65 50th anniversary Veterans event in 2010. For 40 years Hugh has been a competition judge up to World Championships level, and provided administration to a senior international level. He is the secretary of the World Sheep Shearing Records Society, which he helped establish in 1995. Described as an “all round good bugger”, he is a life member of Shearing Sports New Zealand. Matt Watson presented this award from The Fishing Show.
The Sir Brian Lochore Outstanding Sportsperson from a Rural Background:
Sarah Hirini (nee Goss) of Mt Maunganui: Sarah Hirini grew up in Manawatu and learned her rugby skills at Feilding High School. She has developed into one of the leading sevens players in the world. The current Black Ferns Sevens captain has several accolades, including World Champion in 2013, Olympic silver medallist in 2016 and four-time World Series winner. She was named New Zealand Rugby’s Woman Player of the Year in 2017 after her efforts in both sevens at 15s. Goss’ game is characterised by her tireless work ethic and dogged defence. Sir Brian was there last night to present the award in his name.
The New Zealand Rural Sports Awards judging panel is chaired by former All Black captain and World Cup winning coach Sir Brian Lochore, 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 rowing medalist Nathan Twaddle, Fencing legend Paul van Beers, MP for TaranakiKing Country Barbara Kuriger, founder and trustee of the New Zealand Rural Games Steve Hollander, and respected agricultural journalists Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins and Tony Leggett.