Annual Rural Games kick off this weekend

It's not often that gumboot throwing and tree-climbing are seen as competitive sports, but that is the case on Saturday and Sunday at the annual Hilux New Zealand Rural Games.

The games are held in The Square in Palmerston North and attract more than 200 athletes from a diverse range of disciplines from both sides of the Tasman, as well as members of the public who want to have a go.

The event kicks off with the Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards for 2019 on Friday night.

The finalists are leaders in both traditional rural sports like shearing, fencing, wool handling and dog trials, and newer sports like gumboot throwing, cowboy action shooting and tree climbing.

Chair of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards Judging Panel, Sir Brian Lochore said the range of rural sports represented in this year's nominations is extraordinary.

"I love the fact we're honouring people from young athletes just starting to make their mark to the lifetime achievers and those who work away in the background to make sure our rural sports can happen," he said.

"The awards are now in their third year and are going from strength to strength thanks to our fantastic sponsors and supporters," said Sir Brian.

Chief Executive Officer at Norwood,Tim Myers, said it was great to involved.

"Rural sports are such an integral part of the traditional rural lifestyle, and they tend to fly under the radar in terms of mainstream recognition," he said.

"Norwood's is very proud to be able to highlight the skill, commitment and talent of these competitors and supporters," said Mr Myers.

The Awards Dinner is held on Friday March 8 at Awapuni Function Centre in Palmerston North, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games in Palmerston North where nominees and winners will be competing.

The complete list of nominees is:

Norwood NZ Rural Sportsman of the Year:

Tony Bouskill  Fencing  Napier

Kieran Fowler  Gumboot Throwing  Dunedin

James Kilpatrick  Tree Climbing  Tauranga

Skellerup NZ Rural Sportswoman of the Year:

Nicky Ward-Allen  Tree Climbing  Eltham

Pagan Karauria  Wool Handling  Alexandra

Bex Baynes  Sheep Dog Trials  Wairoa

Fonterra NZ Rural Youth of the Year:

Briar Burnett-Grant  Equestrian  Taupo

Bradley McDowell  Cowboy Action Shooting  Whanganui

Sheree Tomlinson  Harness Racing  Canterbury

Levno Contribution to Rural Sport:

David James  NZ Arb  Blenheim

Neil Sidwell  Shearing  Waiwera

Nick Liefting  Fencing  Pukekohe

Toyota Lifetime Legacy:

Ricky May  Harness Racing  Ashburton

Hugh McCarroll  Shearing  Whangamata

Maurice Beatson  Equestrian  Dannevirke