The 2020 Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards were announced on Friday at Awapuni Racecourse in Palmerston North.
Convenor of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards Judging Panel, Nathan Twaddle, said the awards celebrate traditional sports and the people who keep events running year-in and year-out in the towns and settlements across New Zealand.
"We had a fantastic line-up of finalists for each category. Our 2020 winners have proven themselves on the field of their rural sport or in the committee room organising rural sporting events around New Zealand."
Tim Myers, Chief Executive Officer at Norwood, congratulated the winners, finalists and all those nominated.
"It has been an inspirational evening, hearing about the dedication and commitment of our rural athletes to their sport, and the standing they have on the international arena," said Myers.
The judging panel was convened by Olympic rowing medalist Nathan Twaddle. The panel included rural sports icon and president of Shearing Sports New Zealand Sir David Fagan, Fencing legend Paul van Beers, MP for Taranaki-King Country Barbara Kuriger, founder and trustee of the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games Steve Hollander, and respected agricultural journalists Craig 'Wiggy' Wiggins and Tony Leggett
The 2020 Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards winners are:
The Norwood New Zealand Rural Sportsman of the Year
The Geraldine local holds both the individual and team's category World Bladeshearing titles.
Oldfield impressively became the first New Zealander to beat the blade shearing process of South African competitors. In 2018, Oldfield was named the second person ever to win blade shearing at the big four royal shows in the UK; the Royal Highland, Royal Bath and West, the Royal Ulster, and Royal Welsh.
Recently, he won the blade shear competition at the 60th anniversary of the Golden Shears and soon he will head to Scotland to defend his World title in 2022.
Skellerup New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year
The Waipara local became the first woman to win a New Zealand dog trial championship.
Tweed won the North Island and the New Zealand championship straight hunt, proving her to be a fierce and worthy competitor. Introduced to dog trials by her father when she was at school, Tweed was ready to challenge the male-dominated industry. Entering her first National Dog Trial competition in 2013 at 21 years old, Tweed became one of the youngest and only females in the sport.
After competing in dog trial competitions against her father, Tweed went on to claim third place in the South Island championships at Hanmer Springs before taking a stab at the national title, where she became the first woman in 130 years of the sport to be awarded the title.
Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year
After finishing her first proper season in 2019, this Rakaia local is set to become one of the harness-racing greats of her time.
O'Reilly cleaned up at the National Competition by becoming the 2019 New Zealand Junior Driver Champion and one of the Top 12 Junior Drivers in New Zealand - going on to claim the 2019 Australasian Young Driver Championship, becoming one of the Top 10 drivers in all of Australasia.
O'Reilly continues to push to make a name for young women in the industry – with her sights now set on winning the Junior Driver Premiership.
Levno Contribution to Rural Sport
The Napier journalist's contribution to shearing is legendary.
Laing first reported on the Golden Shears while at school in the 1960s and went on to co-found the New Zealand Shearing Magazine. Gathering all the results from 50 years of the world's premier event, Laing also started the Golden Shears History which was published in 2010. After successfully documenting the history of shearing, Laing set his sights on the Hawke's Bay A&P Show, where he helped revive the shearing championships.
His unrivalled dedication to the sport saw him nominated for the role of Media Officer for Shearing Sports New Zealand where he became responsible for bringing shearing into the global spotlight.
Not just a man of shearing, Laing believes in developing sports opportunities for everyone – his achievements include helping to revive rugby league in Hawke's Bay.
Toyota Lifetime Legacy
From Rakaia, May is one of New Zealand's most successful drivers.
A two-time winner of the harness racing category and winner of seven New Zealand Cups - a record no one else has beaten. After collecting more than $32,000,000 in stakes and becoming the third ever driver to reach 2000 race wins in New Zealand, May continues to dominate the harness racing scene.
Aiming to reach the big 3000 winner's goal in 2020, May sits just 51 wins (at time of writing) shy of his next record. Not just a legend on the track, May also spends his time volunteering at the Methven Trotting Club, mentoring young harness racers and working hard on his farm.
In 2019, May dropped dead on the track at Omakau live on television. Thankfully he had an angel on his shoulder that day and has been given a second chance at driving and life.
The Sir Brian Lochore Memorial Award for an Outstanding Sports person from a Rural Background (Sponsored by Allflex)
The pride of Matamata, Casey Kopua was integral to the 52-51 win over Australia in the 2019 Netball World Cup – New Zealand's first win in 16 years.
In 2014, the 23rd Silver Fern's captain was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Her trophy cabinet includes two Commonwealth Gold Medals and three World Cup Silver Medals.