Strong men line up at Tauranga Racecourse

Jayson Woods.

Rumours are flying today’s Bay of Plenty Strongman event will have the best strongman line up yet.

The Tauranga A&P Lifestyle Show at Tauranga Racecourse will have ‘all the fun of the fair’ with plenty to see and do for everybody, including the popular muscle flexing event.

The strongman competition was first introduced to New Zealand in the early 1990s by former NZ strongman Colin Cox, and has grown to include “a few hundred” competitors.

Typical strongman events in New Zealand include the Farmers Walk, vehicle pull, yoke carry, overhead log lift, stone lift and carrying a 160kg anvil. The New Zealand record for the latter event is held by Mike Olsen, who carried it over a distance of 125 metres in 2012.

“We’re not doing the anvil at Tauranga,” says Matt Rossiter, who is running Sunday’s Bay of Plenty’s Strongest Man 2019 competition. “We’re doing the Carry and Drag.”

The Carry and Drag involves carrying a stone 25 metres, then dragging a 180kg sled back to the finish line.

Jayson Woods.

“Last year we used 179 kg because that’s what it all weighed out to on my scales, but we decided this year I’ll throw a one kilo plate on and make it an even 180kgs,” says Matt.

“The stone is 114kgs, and they carry that 25m and drop it in a box at the other end. That’s where the sled is. They grab the sled by the handles and drag it back to the finish line. Altogether that’s 180kg.

“Last year only two men finished it out of the whole field of ten guys. A local guy - Cameron, big guy, six foot three, 130 kgs. He won the Carry and Drag. Only he and Callum McConachy managed to finish it.”

“Last year’s overall winner was Jayson Woods, from Huntly, who is the national champion in the under-105 kg class. He won overall and beat all the heavyweights.

“The main contender this year will be Jayson. And Mathew Ragg is coming. He’s been NZ’s strongest man in the heavyweight division three times. He’s the NZ record holder in the log lift at the moment.”

Matt doesn’t know how many will be competing until Sunday but has 15 entries already.

Callum McConachy.

“I’ve had people contact me who I’ve never met. It wouldn’t surprise me to have more turn up on the day.

“It will be interesting to see who wins on Sunday. There are some new guys around who are looking quite strong.”

Matt is a former New Zealand strongman and powerlifting champion, and has been running the New Zealand’s Strongest Man competition for 24 years.

He says strongman competitions developed as a form of entertainment because a TV company wanted to get the strongest footballers, shot putters, weightlifters and competitors from the various strength sports all together to see who was the strongest.

“For the events, they selected a lot of the historic tests of strength such as lifting stones onto barrels. The Farmer’s Walk event came from the old days when farmers would have contests carrying two full milk churns from the milking shed to the house without dropping them.”

Tauranga A&P Lifestyle Show organiser David Harricks is enthusiastic about the strong man competition.

Sheep shearing and sheep racing will be featured at the show.

“All the guys are trying to get into the NZ championships. They use Tauranga as a training for the NZ championships which are coming up soon. They’ve got a really good group coming because the contestants have to win a local event to enter the NZ championships. It’s a last chance for some of them.”

“The Tauranga event is a qualifying round,” agrees Matt. “The top two will go through. There are six spots left in the field for the NZ Strongest Man final which is at Easter. So two from Tauranga, two from Katikati and two from Counties will go through.”

As well as the strength event, the show will also feature equestrian events such as western riding and harness, shearing, wood chopping, vintage tractors and machinery, pony rides, and a petting zoo.

“There will be sheep racing too,” says David. “Sheep ‘n Show put little toy jockeys on the back of the sheep which race up and down the track. We’ll also have alpacas and grey hounds. And the western riders will be doing a demonstration of the cowboy challenge.”

A wide variety of trade stands will be on site, along with food and entertainment.

The Tauranga A&P Lifestyle Show has been running since 1895.

The show’s website states: ‘The wider Bay of Plenty area has moved away from its ‘rural’ status due to the sub-dividing of farmland around the city and the incredibly rapid development of this area. We are unique in that we hold an Agricultural Show in an area that is no longer particularly ‘rural’. We continue to hold the annual show as we see the importance of maintaining the tradition of ‘bringing the country to the city’ to provide the city dwellers and their children with the chance to experience and participate in the lifestyle and activities associated with rural life.’

The show attracts 4000-5000 people and offers a variety of equestrian, sporting and traditional A&P events, along with trade sites, entertainment.

There really is something for everyone, whether you have a lifestyle block in the country with horses, sheep or pets, or live in the city or an apartment.

Enjoy an affordable and entertaining family fun day out, where the country is brought to the city.

“There’s plenty of shade,” says David, “so come along and have a good day.”

The Tauranga A&P Lifestyle Show is on Sunday January 13, from 10-4pm at the Tauranga Racecourse.  Adults $10, children under 12 are free.

Jayson Woods.




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