NZ Rural Games coming to Q'town

Steve Hollander will bring  ''all things country'' to Queenstown next year in the form of  the inaugural New Zealand Rural Games. Photo supplied.
Steve Hollander will bring ''all things country'' to Queenstown next year in the form of the inaugural New Zealand Rural Games. Photo supplied.

A two-day celebration of ''all things country'' will be held in Queenstown next year during the inaugural New Zealand Rural Games.

The new event, to be held at the Queenstown Rec Ground at Waitangi Weekend, February 7 and 8, will feature a host of traditional country sports and celebrate New Zealand's rural heritage for spectators and an international television audience.

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

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

It would also feature Highland games sports, live music and entertainment and audience participation events including cowpat-throwing and cherry stone spitting, along with kids' activities and specialty food and market stalls.

Mr Hollander expects the games will attract top competitors from New Zealand and Australia, including national and world champions.

''My background is in farming and rural sports. During the 2011 Rugby World Cup, I helped showcase these as part of the Real New Zealand Festival.

''It was a huge hit with domestic and overseas fans and gave me the idea to create an annual event.

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

Mr Hollander's company, Cutting Edge Sport (CES), is managing the event on behalf of the NZ Rural Sports Trust.

The non-profit trust's board includes New Zealand professionals, among them former All Blacks captain and World Cup winning coach, Sir Brian Lochore, Taranaki rural spokeswoman Barbara Kuriger, as chairwoman, and other representatives from the rural and commercial sectors.

• Mr Hollander said programme and ticketing details would be announced soon. More information is available at www.ruralgames.co.nz