Skills preserved in celebration of rural spirit

Steve Hollander, founder and trustee of New Zealand Rural Games. Photo supplied
Steve Hollander, founder and trustee of New Zealand Rural Games. Photo supplied
The inaugural New Zealand Rural Games, which will be held in Queenstown in February next year, are expected to attract top competitors from throughout New Zealand and Australia, including national and world champions.

The two-day celebration of all things country takes place on Queenstown's Recreation Ground over Waitangi weekend.

Organisers are working with Sport New Zealand and rural sports associations around the country to develop exciting new formats for competitive wood chopping, sheep shearing, sheepdog trials, Young Farmers, speed fencing, coal shovelling, speed gold panning and other less well-known sports.

The event will also feature Highland Games and a full festival programme, including live music and entertainment, fun audience participation events such as cowpat throwing and cherry stone spitting, children's activities and specialty food and market stalls.

New Zealand Rural Games founder and trustee Steve Hollander said the event had been a dream of his for a long time.

''New Zealand was built on farming and the economy still relies on primary industries and the people who work in them,'' Mr Hollander said.

''The Games are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate this essential part of our national character.

''We want to help continue the legacy of traditional sports for future generations, bringing them to the attention of the wider population and ensuring the country's rural spirit is celebrated for many years to come.''