Woodchopping at Kawerau Woodfest features the Rotorua Axemen Club and the finest woodchoppers in NZ. Check them out on Saturday 13 September on Prideaux Park this year.
World champion and Kiwi timber sportsman, Jason Wynyard is a household name in the world of woodchopping and his roots go all the way back to events like Kawerau Woodfest. This year we can expect the future stars of the New Zealand timber sports arena with other emerging talents appearing at Kawerau this year, this will be an opportunity to see the future world elite right before the rest of the world does!
One of those emerging talents is the 24 year old, Shane 'Chopper' Jordan. Shane has been chopping since he was 15 years old and has already competed and represented NZ in the USA, Spain, Austria and Australia. Last year he took out 7 titles throughout the North Island and is also a member of the NZ four man team which set the new World record in Austria last year. His favourite discipline is the standing chop and his roots are in farming with his present occupation as a sawmiller.
Another of New Zealand's finest axemen is Bevin Cavey who recently beat Jason Wynyard. It was a chance meeting with veteran axe man, Jim Wass over the farm fence in late 2008 which led to Bevin laying down his paddle for the axe. Bevin retired from top level competitive white water slalom kayaking, representing NZ in numerous world events since 1995. Under Jim’s tutelage, Bevin is now devoted to being the best axe man he can be.
Just four months after meeting Jim, Bevin entered his first competitive chop, the 2009 (Jan) A&P Show at the Agrodome in his hometown of Rotorua, winning enough money to encourage him forward. He subsequently entered the Waitomo Meeting a couple of months later, this time armed with Jim’s lucky Miller axe and Jim’s ringside moral support. Here, he experienced his first disqualification of his winning chop due to starting on the count of 3 instead of 4, forgetting his handicap had been raised because of his wins in Rotorua. Bevin is certain he will not make the same mistake ever again.
Bevin has the best coach any novice axe man can ever have. Jim Wass holds the still unchallenged NZ title, was a NZ team member and was a World Titles as well. He has chopped competitively all over North America and worked in numerous exotic forests of the world. Whether it was the intriguing stories of Jim’s travels or his convincing ways about this wonderful sport that persuaded Bevin to lay his paddle down for the axe, is anyone’s guess.
Bevin finds wood chopping pleasantly addictive, the heady competitiveness, the camaraderie and the awesome thrill of competing against World Champions, David Bolstad and Jason Wynyard; both names synonymous with the best there is in axemen circles. They both hold the World Title in their respective specialty events.
Bevin believes the sport should be actively promoted because it fosters great friendships, tests a person’s mental and physical strength, technical skills and keeps one fit right into the golden years, as is evident in the many actively competing senior members.
Don't miss Shane and Bevin in action this year on Sunday at Kawerau Woodfest. There will be plenty of other choppers in action like the stalwart-Frank Karren and many others.
For many years the best axemen in New Zealand have competed at Kawerau Woodfest in what is there first outing of the season. Check out the footage below from last year's soaking conditions.