Westport sawyer wins axeman title
Westport's Neil Hateley has won his first standing-chop championship at the Nelson A & P Show, taking out the title for elite axemen.
The tall, powerful 30-year-old is better known for his sawing, having represented New Zealand in that discipline, but he took advantage of the absence of some of the big guns to claim the premier 350mm event on Saturday.
After lacking a little rhythm in his heat, he changed his axe for the eight-man final to win by a couple of hits.
Hateley said he was "rapt" to finally win a Bowe family championship after going close on several previous occasions.
"The underhand and the single and double saw are my focus. The standing (chop) is something I do as an extra but it has been improving and this is my top result, which I'm really happy about."
Hateley, whose father Brian was a New Zealand representative, has been wood chopping since he was 16 and said he loved the competition and camaraderie and was always looking to improve.
"There are about seven or eight disciplines and it takes a long time to master them."
Hateley also had success in Sunday's elite underhand event, finishing second to Picton's Willie Able, before his day was cut short when he rolled his ankle as his log parted.
Another competitor broke his ankle when the same thing happened in the last event of the show.
In other results, Nelson won bragging rights for the second year in a row by just holding off a fast-finishing Marlborough in the teams event on Saturday.
In the top money events, John Aitken from Hokitika won Saturday's standing chop handicap, while Takaka's Steve Winter held on to take Sunday's underhand handicap event.
Nearly 40 axemen took part in the show competition, which was down slightly on last year.