Top chopper gets the call
South Waikato teen Cleveland Cherry is literally proving he's a cut above the rest.
The 16-year-old Putaruru Axeman's Club member has been selected by world renowned Tuatahi Racing Axes founder Eddie Fawcett as one of two axemen who will represent New Zealand during the Sydney Royal Easter Show in April 2017.
Each year Fawcett selects only one axeman from the North Island and one from the South Island based on their performance records so after only competing in the highly competitive sport for two years, Cleveland said he felt privileged to have been chosen.
"Eddie Fawcett picks you based on your performance throughout the season and I've been one of the better under 21 choppers in the North Island. Technique is the main thing," he said.
So far this season, which runs from October through until April, Cleveland has certainly proved he's worthy of the selection.
"The season's just started but so far we have been to Hamilton, Christchurch and Waiuku," he said.
"In Hamilton they had four under 21 championships and I won all of them and two open chops and in Christchurch, which is probably New Zealand's biggest chop meeting, I came second and third."
He said it was his father Norm Cherry who got him into the sport and he thanked him for his ongoing support.
Norm said they are expecting the Australian competition to be a lot tougher than those in New Zealand.
"It is a lot harder wood over there as they mainly use Woollybutt, Blackbutt, and Mountain Ash (all types of Eucalyptus), whereas we chop pine and poplar which is nowhere near as hard," he said.
He said Cleveland does however have what it takes.
"You have to have a pretty good swing because you can be as big and strong as you like but without good technique you will only go so far," he said.
Norm said Cleveland will be competing in several chops during the event including open, under 21, and 16 and under development chops.
Cleveland said he was looking forward to taking part.
"I don't know how I will go yet because I have never seen the Aussie boys chop but it's good being able to win money and [other competitors] are cool people to be around ," he said.