Saturday, April 13, 2024

Minister remembers wood-chopping great

Māori Development Minister, Willie Jackson has expressed his sadness at the passing of accomplished Kiwi sportsman, Jason Wynyard MNZM (nō Ngāpuhi, me Ngāti Maniapoto), on Wednesday.

Mr Jackson said Jason had followed in the footsteps of his father, Pae Wynyard, to become a true icon of the wood-chopping world.

“Born in the Bay of Islands town of Kawakawa, Jason first picked up an axe aged six. At 16, he was the youngest ever competitor when he first represented New Zealand with the New Zealand Axemen Association Team in 1990,” the Minister said.

“His relentless passion and commitment saw him go on to set dozens of New Zealand records and a number of world records, one of his oldest was set in 1994 for the 350mm Underhand Tarire.”

He dominated the sport across the world for decades, winning nine senior world championships and more than 230 titles.

While Jason is indeed world famous for his sporting prowess, he is also loved across Aotearoa for his humble nature and willingness to accomodate the crowds, said Mr Jackson.

“It was his strength of character that made him a true ambassador for the sport. He played an important role in developing the contests, which included promoting the Hot Saw Competition, and successfully inspired growth in younger membership,” he says.

“Just as Jason learned many of his talents from his father, Jason’s son, Tai Wynyard, also found sporting success having represented New Zealand in basketball. Both father and son were the first ever joint winners of the supreme Albie Pryor Memorial Māori Sports Person of the Year award in 2014 and he was rated as one of the top 5 influential Māori sportspeople of the past 30 years in the 2021 Maori Sports awards special.”

Jason was a legend of the sport, the Minister says.

“He has been described by his contemporaries as an icon and the Michael Jordan of wood chopping.”

He was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the sport of wood chopping in the 2017 New Year Honours. Earlier this year, he was announced a joint-winner of the Courtesy Ford Lifetime Legacy to Rural Sports Award at the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards.

“Jason’s achievements will inspire and motivate others to strive for excellence for years to come.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his whānau at this time,” said Minister Jackson.

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