The Blenheim Axemen’s Club are an adaptable bunch.
With the Marlborough A and P Show cancelled, they decided to relocate their annual wood cutting event from A and P Park to the Hocquard property in Riverlands.
On Saturday, competitors came from far afield to take part in a series of events, all contested in a relaxed, rural atmosphere.
The day’s premier event was the Geoff Hocquard Memorial Standing Championship contested by the top four back markers on the highest handicaps. The event was won by Joe Cox from Timaru, from Andrew Cox, also from Timaru, with Ray Biggs of Nelson third and Christchurch’s John Aitken fourth.
Championship races have all the competitors starting on a count of three seconds. The Open and Restricted races see all the competitors starting on their marks from the woodchopping handicap system.
The four Open woodchopping events, consisting of small and large Underhand and Standing Chops, had two heats with placegetters meeting in the final.
The 300mm underhand was won by Kyle Hedley, with Chris Heath second, Steve Foster third and Marlborough chopper Finn Sloan fourth.
Hedley and Foster tied for first in the 325mm underhand, with Ross Birchfield third and Sloan fourth.
Foster won the 275mm standing from Hedley, with Picton’s Tim Abel third and Peter McEwen fourth.
Abel claimed the 3000mm standing title, Dave McEwen finishing second, Hedley third and Andrew Cox fourth.
Nelson chopper Hedley, with 15.5 points, claimed the overall points trophy from Steve Foster (Greymouth) on 12.5 pts.
The single and double sawing events had reduced numbers this year, especially with local sawyers Geoffrey Hocquard and Willie Abel unavailable to compete.
The single saw was won by John Aitken, with Andrew Cox second, local sawyer Robbie Brownlee third his grandson Finn Sloan fourth.
The double saw title was claimed by Andrew and Joe Cox, from Brownlee and John Aitken, then Finn and Billy Sloan, followed by Charlie Morgan and Martin Mason.
The three restricted underhand chops were contested by the newcomers, juniors and ladies also competing under the handicap system.
The No 1 restricted was won by Justin Carter, from Ashleigh Radford, Alex Gregg and Toby Godsiff.
The No 2 restricted was taken out by Louie Gregg, with Emma Riddell second, Justin Carter third and Alex Gregg fourth.
Carter claimed the No 3 restricted title, from Louie Gregg, Alex Gregg and Ashleigh Radford respectively.
Carter scored the most points in the restricted chops, with Louie Gregg second.
Local competitors were Tim Abel, Robbie Brownlee and his grandsons Finn Sloan, Billy Sloan, Alex Gregg and Louie Gregg.
Everyone competing at the Blenheim Axemen’s Club event also had a second day of competition with the Nelson Axemen’s Club meeting at the Wakefield Hotel on Sunday.
Education bosses are set to appoint a contractor for the new colleges by the end of the year.
Ministry of Education staff have revealed bids from interested contractors were received last week, with an appointment set to be made soon.
The move means planning and design phases on the $100 million dollar upgrade can hopefully begin early next year.
Head of Education Infrastructure Service Kim Shannon says the project will transform education in the region, providing world-class education facilities for Marlborough learners.
“The co-location of Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ Colleges and relocation of Bohally Intermediate will be one of the biggest projects that the Ministry has ever delivered.”
“The project will transform education in Marlborough, as well as supporting the Top of the South in its post-Covid recovery.”
“This is a really exciting time for all three schools, as well as the wider Blenheim community, and we’re looking forward to working with them as the project progresses,” she says.
After three years of unsuccessfully searching for a greenfield site, the Ministry of Education announced the colleges would be co-located at the 13.2-hectare McLauchlan Street site,
The project will co-locate Marlborough Boys’ and Marlborough Girls’ College on the site currently occupied by Marlborough Girls’ and Bohally Intermediate.
The Intermediate will be relocated and rebuilt on the current Marlborough Boys’ College site.
Kim says official responses to their Request for Proposals were received last week.
She added the start of procurement is always an important milestone for a project.
“We will now be evaluating the responses, supported by the schools, over the next few weeks. We plan to engage a contractor-led consortium before the end of the year.
“The master planning and design phases will then begin in early 2021, which will inform both the project staging (how and when the individual aspects are carried out) as well as construction and completion timeframes,” she says.
All three schools are being kept in the loop about the project.
“We are in regular contact with both Colleges and Bohally Intermediate about the project, and representatives from all three schools are part of the project’s governance structure.
“The change in Government and COVID-19 have had no impact on the project or its delivery,’ says Kim.
The pies have been tasted, the wines sipped, and a winner found.
After weeks of searching, the winner of the 2020 Ultimate Burleigh Pie Pairing has been announced.
Jamaican lamb pie and Spätlese Riesling 2017 took out the top spot, beating a record 47 entries from around the region.
Judge and challenge co-founder says the level of interest shows just how much the annual competitions means to people.
“We knew that The Burleigh is the go – to for most folks to satisfy their pie cravings, but this level of involvement has blown us away yet again.
“What started as a few friends getting together over a pie and deciding it was about time the perfect tipple was picked to pair alongside has grown to something really special.”
All $2350 raised through entry fees will be donated to the Marlborough Foodbank.
The winning entry will receive bragging rights, a boxed French brie and their name on the prestigious Burleigh Pairing Trophy.
The four judges – television personality Jesse Mulligan , Marlborough Media co-owner Summa MacDonald, along with Saulo Camillo Nunes, owner of Gramado’s Restaurant, and Fiona Fenwick, – carried out a blind taste test, with official adjudication to ensure fairness all round.
Summa, from Marlborough Media, who sponsored the event, says it was a tough job, but she was happy to help.
“So many delicious pies and wines didn’t make it easy for the judges, but we are a committed crew and somehow pushed through.
“I was genuinely very impressed with the high quality of the entries but not surprised as, living in Marlborough myself, I know that we consistently punch above our weight when it comes to food and wine.”
From the outset, the Tasman Mako have been blessed with outstanding leaders.
In recent times, current coaches Andrew Goodman and Shane Christie led various campaigns with calm authority and the ability to inspire those around them with both deeds and words.
Now David Havili has the captain’s role, and what a fine leader he has become.
In today’s Mitre 10 Cup table-topping premiership clash with Waikato his astounding variety of skills were on display.
Losing the toss was probably his only mistake of the afternoon, but it meant his side had to play the first 40 into a strong north-westerly wind.
With the home team under the pump early as the Mooloo men strove to take advantage of the conditions and boss the game it was the skipper who turned the tables, snatching a timely interception and sprinting 70m to score against the run of play.
His second try stretched the Mako lead to 27-5 early in the second spell then, when Waikato scored twice in quick succession to narrow the gap to 10, he popped up once more with more individual brilliance to bag his third and put the issue beyond doubt.
But wasn’t just his tries that caught the eye. His defence was, as always, first class, along with his ability to read play from the back as well as timing passes designed to put others into gaps.
The versatile skipper relished a return to the 15 jersey after slotting into the midfield last week.
“I definitely love playing 15 but it’s good to have that extra string to your bow, playing at 12.”
David said that despite his side holding some handy advantages during the 80 minutes, he never felt they had the game won until the final whistle.
“You never feel that you have cracked them … it was tough playing into that breeze in the first half and we were glad to have that buffer at halftime … but then they came back, like Waikato always do.”
He admitted he would have opted to play with the wind if he had won the toss but suggested [losing the toss] may have worked in Tasman’s favour.
“We went out there with the mindset of carrying the ball … it was tough to exit and thankfully our defence was on today.”
Although Tasman lost four key players to the All Blacks camp this week their replacements stepped up in fine fashion, David quick to point out that they were by no means “new” players – Isaac Salmon, Alex Ainley, Sione Havili and Alex Nankivell bringing a wealth of experience to the mix.
“These guys have been round for a while. Obviously now is their opportunity … it is awesome for us to have guys in the All Blacks, but we treated it as a challenge this week for those guys to step into their shoes and I thought they did that today.”
They certainly did, all four bringing defensive steel to the party and executing their core roles professionally.
Another top performer was young lock Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta who followed up a man-of-the-match effort against Counties with another big shift today.
Jacob Norris, the Mako go-to-guy at lineout time, is becoming increasingly influential, while Andrew Makalio is relishing regular game time and the chance to run in the wide channels, while scoring regular tries on the back of unstoppable lineout drives.
Halfback Dwayne Polataivao kicked well into the breeze while centre Fetuli Paea continues to prove a handful, on both sides of the ball.
The Sparkies, as the Mako bench is known, are providing impact and continuity, with halfback Louie Chapman, flanker Braden Stewart and hooker Quentin MacDonald, who was extremely unlucky not to bag a “welcome back” try, to the fore.
Along with their five tries, it was the suffocating Mako defence that sealed the deal.
Defence coach Shane Christie was pleased with his charges.
“For a team to hold out Waikato, who have been an outstanding attacking team in the first two rounds, the boys should be really proud of themselves … the way we prepared and executed our defence, not for 80 minutes, but man that was a pretty good effort for the majority of the game,” he added.
Next Sunday it is off to Albany and a meeting with former Mako coach Kieran Keane’s North Harbour team. Kick off is 2.05pm.
The Tokomaru premier netball team have a unique pre-match ritual. They links arms and step over the mid line of the court they are about to play on in unison.
They undertake this “crossing of the line” to shed all the day’s baggage and concentrate their collective minds solely on the forthcoming game.
At a partially-deserted Stadium 2000 on Saturday afternoon it became very apparent from early on that that their minds were fully-focussed on the job at hand as they ruthlessly disposed of Pelorus 63-46 to claim their second consecutive premier crown.
Pelorus held Toko to a single goal during round robin play, but this afternoon had no answer to the efficiency and collective skill set of the Picton-based crew who almost totally dominated the middle stages of the match.
Pelorus looked the part in the first quarter, won 17-16 by Toko, shooter Paige Lovell finding her range early to land 14 goals from the same number of attempts. With circle defenders Oriana Houra and Jalen King combining superbly to place maximum pressure on the Toko shooting duo of Haze Tepuia and Gemma Hika a tight final appeared in prospect.
However, the second quarter told a different tale. Missed shots, frequent turnovers and errant passes combined to destroy any momentum Pelorus had built. Like any champion side, Tokomaru took full advantage of their rival’s woes, Tepuia and Hika dropping in 15 goals from 19 shots while Pelorus landed just eight from 15.
With Michaela Boaz and Eden Te Huki quick to snatch the rebounds and the dynamic trio of Wilson sisters poised to shift the ball efficiently through midcourt, any Pelorus inaccuracy was swiftly punished.
Despite a change at halftime, with Jordan Peipi coming on at goal attack for Olivia Pinkerton, Tokomaru merely raised the bar.
They managed 22 goal attempts in this period to Pelorus’s 12, landing 19 goals to their opponent’s six successes. Thus, after 45 minutes and with the scoreline reading 51-30, the final was effectively over.
To their credit Pelorus lifted their heads and claimed the final stanza 16-12 to reduce the final margin, but the damage had long since been done. When the final whistle blew, the Toko contingent could reflect on an undefeated season which they ended with a giant exclamation mark.
At the centre of their success was lofty shooter Tepuia, named Marlborough netballer of the year at the MNA prizegiving which followed the final. His conversion rate was staggering and, when he was double-teamed, up stepped the redoubtable Hika to continue the momentum.
The addition of wing attack Dana Wilson to the family-friendly Toko midcourt this year has upped the ante, her clever feeding a feature of the final, while her sisters continue to add pace and precision to the mix. Hana Wilson was voted senior midcourt player of the year.
Boaz and Te Huki have grown as a defensive unit as the season has rolled on, the former strong under the hoop, the latter adept at hinting out intercepts.
Pelorus also had their heroes. Lovell almost single-handedly carrying the bulk of the shooting load, Kelsie Fitzpatrick, Jenna Seabrook, Laura Murphy and Jordan Peipi working hard in midcourt while King and Houra, the latter named defender of the year, did their level best to stem the flow.
Tokomaru coach Vanessa Hika said today’s victory felt different to last year’s triumph.
“Just because it has been such an unusual short season … more challenging too as we didn’t have much time for development.
“But this season has proven to me that relationships are everything … they are a very tight bunch that have just kept getting tighter.
“We have got a real family thing going on there too, sometimes it’s a bonus, sometimes it’s not,” she added with a smile. “But we just like each other and play hard for each other.”
Toko skipper Gemma Hika said that although the scoreline blew out, “it was still hard work out there”.
“We work really hard on our team cohesion off the court as well.
“[Today’s win] was also extra-special as it could possibly be Haze’s last game for us.”
Pelorus coach Courtney Taufa was full of praise for Toko and said her charges were “a bit flat”.
“We needed to back each other a bit more today and we didn’t.”