The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games are taking place in Palmerston North this weekend and if you can't make it to the event you can watch the action here with our livestream.
The largest rural sporting weekend in Australasia, the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games, is set to take place this weekend.
The Square in Palmerston North is being transformed into an extravaganza of the Kiwi sports that helped build our nation.
From wood chopping and shearing, through to fencing, speed tree climbing and highland heavies, this weekend is set to entertain the crowds.
Ford New Zealand Managing Director Simon Rutherford said he's excited to be involved in his first Rural Games.
"Ford is super excited to be part of this great event that celebrates rural sporting athletes and gives rural sports a national and international platform."
New Zealand Rural Games Trust Chair Margaret Kouvelis said the Games attract about 30,000 people and are now in their sixth year and are continuing to grow.
"As a Charitable Trust we are absolutely dedicated to bringing town and country together and doing it for free. It has never been more important to connect young people growing up in our cities and towns with the people who produce their food."
New Zealand Rural Games Founder Steve Hollander said he is super-excited to bring a new format to the Games this year.
"The ANZAXE TransTasman Woodchopping, the Southern Hemisphere Highlander Champs, the gumboot and cow pat throwing will be held over both days of the Games."
"Our first Canadian athlete will be here to compete against our Kiwi athletes and their Australian cousins in the Southern Hemisphere Highlander Champs."
The Ford Ranger Rural Games weekend will start on Friday 13 March with the Allflex Clash of the Colleges.
About 180 agri-high school students from the Mid Central North Island will compete in teams of four across 22 modules – everything from milking a cow and plant washdown, to wool classing and body condition scoring, as well as paper-based modules that cover seeds, weeds and fertilisers.
That evening is the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards at Awapuni Racing Centre which celebrates rural sporting athletic achievements and celebrates the effort of coaches and administrators who run rural sports throughout New Zealand.
Listen to Jamie Mackay interview New Zealand Rural Games Founder Steve Hollander on The Country:
Highlights of this weekend include:
• Free bus services in Palmerston North, Feilding, Ashhurst and Massey for the duration of the weekend, thanks to Horizons Regional Council.
• Kids 'n Country – two days of free activities for kids under 12 from digger driving, model tractor races, hay bale racing, tug-o-war, to throwing wall and more
• Have a Go – two days of events for everyone to participate in. Events include everything from gumboot throwing, kids tree climbing and speed milking to Russian Egg Roulette, and cow pat throw and coal shovelling.
• Hungerball Soccer inflatable football pitch.
&bull Food stalls in the heart of The Square.
• I Am Hope and Gumboot Friday led by Mike King, covering mental health and wellbeing. This is part of the 16-long tractor convoy travelling the country from Bluff to Kaitaia.
• The New Zealand Defence Force, the Southern North Island Forestry Industry and Rural Fire will each have recruitment drives at the Games.
• An attempt will be made to break the 93.6m Egg Throw and Catch World Record
• The Sam Strahan Memorial Sheep Dog Challenge, our sheep dog trials have been renamed in honour of the late Sam Strahan – former All Black and Games Trust board member who sadly passed away last year.
• Sport New Zealand will be meeting with major Rural Sports Association leaders to discuss strategy for their future relationship.
The Games attract an array of stars that will inspire the next generation to have a go, including:
• Casey Kopua – former Silver Ferns Captain
• Brent Newdick – Olympian and current New Zealand Decathlon Champion
• Courtney Duncan - the first Kiwi woman to win a FIM World MX Championship title
• Rowland Smith – Seven-time Golden Shears winner
• Sir David Fagan – Shearing legend
• Laura Daniel – Comedian, television star and expat Palmerstonian
• Luke Wainui – actor/model and egg thrower
• Kayla Whitelock – Black Stick and former Captain
• Baseballers Kris Richards and Riki Paewai
• World Egg Throw and Catch Champions Ben McColgan and Lachie Davidson
• Nathan Twaddle – former Olympic rower
• Damien O'Conner – Minister of Agriculture
• Mike King - The man behind Gumboot Friday
Find out more at the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games website.