Recent rain has brought a huge smile to a rugby mad Mangatainoka farmer who has begun transforming a bare paddock into a top-notch pitch ahead of next year's Super Rugby pre-season game between the Hurricanes and the Blues.

Kerry Fergus leases the farm on which the Mangatainoka Rugby Football Club grounds are located and has spent the last few weeks prepping a paddock so it's ready for the Battle at the Brewery game to be held on Saturday, February 9.

The Super Rugby pre-season game, organised by Tui Brewery, is returning to the small Tararua District town for the first time since 2013 and Fergus has been rolling the pitch and had plans to start irrigating it until Mother Nature intervened.

"Two weeks ago, the paddock was pretty dry but thanks to this rain we've managed to push any irrigation out," said the former Mangatainoka RFC No 8 and halfback.

Some of the 8000 fans packed into the Skin Symonds stand at Mangatainoka in 2013 when the Hurricanes took on the Chiefs. Photo / File
Some of the 8000 fans packed into the Skin Symonds stand at Mangatainoka in 2013 when the Hurricanes took on the Chiefs. Photo / File

"It's been rolled several times and I'm now about to spray it and put the fertiliser on, before mowing begins. Come next year we'll keep it watered and looking tidy before putting up the temporary grand stand … it should come up looking terrific."

Like much of the community, Fergus remembers fondly the first time the Hurricanes stepped out on the Mangatainoka RFC.

"We're damn lucky to have the Hurricanes return after this hiatus and it just puts the biggest smile on my face as back in 2010 when news broke that they would play here … no one believed me … not even my own family! But once the news spread the local marae and schools just got completely behind it," Fergus said.

"That first game was held in a howling southerly and boy did it rain. I'll never forget that the local Plunket only sold two bottles of water for the whole day however in town, all the wet weather gear completely sold out of all the shops!"

Fergus, who has farmed in the district all his life, said he was proud as punch that these games put Mangatainoka on the map and celebrated the small township (population 1560, Census 2013). He said they also helped celebrate community spirit.

Fergus recalled the time that Nick Rogers, who runs the visitor experience at Tui Brewery and originally came up with the idea to bring the Hurricanes to town, organised $60K of fundraising to help save the historic wooden Mangatainoka RFC grandstand with the support of Alistair MacDougall and Fergus.

"Come February 9th, the ground will be in good order. There should be solid grass coverage which will make for a carpet for all the players," Fergus said.




Battle at the Brewery Super Rugby pre-season game between the Hurricanes and Blues


Saturday, February 9




Gates open 12.30pm, kick-off 3pm.


$45 GA before Santa

$50 GA after Santa


$80 SUPPORTERS PACK (tickets will include a Tui cap, t-shirt and GA ticket to the game)


All tickets are available to purchase from

or at Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka. GA tickets are available from local PGG Wrightson and Norwood Stores. Once you've purchased your tickets, enter the draw at

to be part of the half time entertainment where you will get a chance to win a Panasonic 43" 4K Ultra High Definition Smart TV.

For more match day information visit