The finalists for the 2021 Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards have been announced.
There are five categories this year, Rural Sportsman of the Year, Rural Sportswoman of the Year, Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year, Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rural Sports Award and the Lifetime Legacy Award.
The awards dinner will be held on Friday, March 12 at Awapuni Function Centre, the night before the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games in Palmerston North.
Before that gala event takes place, you can get to know the finalists a little better below.
Here are the finalists for New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year.
Skellerup New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year
Steph Dryfhout - tree climbing
Steph Dryfhout is a class-leading athlete with a remarkable talent for tree climbing.
She has won the New Zealand National Women's Championship for the last three years running and was runner-up in the 2019 International Tree Climbing Women's Championship.
Dryfhout discovered her knack for tree climbing while spending her gap year working in a tree nursery.
She decided to share her passion for horticulture with other budding tree climbers and recently took on a role as a mentor to students and trainees interested in a future as an arborist.
Dryfhout has proved she is a force to be reckoned with and will no doubt go on to have a successful career in arboriculture.
Keryn Herbert - shearing
Keryn Herbert is no stranger to the spotlight, with over two decades of exceptional wool handling experience.
Since 2005, Herbert has won 48 open finals, represented New Zealand nine times in Trans-Tasman tests, and won a world teams title in Wales.
Back home, Herbert competed in 15 open woolhandling finals in the 2019-2020 season across New Zealand.
After winning five of these competitions (including the North Island Circuit Final at Golden Shears) and coming runner-up six times, she staked her claim as the number one ranked open wool handler of the season - for the fifth time.
Always hungry for more, Herbert is now gearing up to claim the prestigious Golden Shears title in 2021.
Darcell Apelu - wood chopping
Darcell Apelu's list of wood chopping titles is staggering, especially for someone who has competed for just over a decade.
In 2019, Darcell took out much of the Sydney Royal Easter Show, before going on to win the inaugural New Zealand Stihl Timbersport Women's Championship.
Darcell was named most successful competitor in the women's events at the prestigious Sydney competition.
She won the Ladies Single Handed Sawing Championship and the Ladies Double Handed Sawing Championship, before becoming a finalist in the Ladies Underhand Championship.
Although Covid-19 ended all international and national competitions last year, Darcell didn't let this stop her efforts in the South Island Circuit 2020, where she won two competitions and placed three other times.
As a member of the New Zealand Axeferns for more than a decade, Darcell has also won multiple tests against other nations - but her contribution to wood chopping doesn't stop at competitions.
Always keen to help others, Darcell also contributes to the wood chopping community as the Secretary for the Northern Axemen's North Island Association, an officer for their committee, and Rotorua A and P Axemens Club Vice-President.
Darcell aims to inspire more women to join the sport, and wants to initiate a women's world title event in New Zealand.