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Life dedicated to woodchopping

Eddie Fawcett, centre, with grandson Quintin, left, and son Grant at Tuatahi Racing Axes and Saws. PHOTOS/STEVE RENDLE

Edward [Eddie] Colban Fawcett – The Queen’s Service Medal for services to woodchopping

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“Woodchopping is a sport that if it gets you, it’s got you for life.”

Eddie Fawcett at Tuatahi Racing Axes and Saws.

So says Masterton’s Eddie Fawcett, who yesterday received the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the sport that “got” him 66 years ago, when as the son of an axeman he was plucked from the sidelines to make up numbers for a standing chop event at Reporoa.

He hadn’t competed before, but organisers assumed he would know what he was doing.

Now 81, Fawcett said his father told him to “go like buggery” – bad advice, as it happens,

“That’s what I did, and I came last,” he laughs

“After that, a top axeman came up and told me to slow down.

“I did that and finished third in the second event.

“Then he came up to me and said ‘slow down a bit more’ – and I won the third event of the day.

“That gave me the taste of it.”

That taste has lingered.

Originally a sawdoctor, Eddie’s Tuatahi Racing Axes and Saws business, started more than 40 years ago, is renowned internationally among woodchoppers, providing axes and saws to competitors throughout New Zealand and 30 other countries.

A life member of the New Zealand Axemen’s Association, he established the Masterton Axemen’s Club and was behind the formation of the New Zealand Juniors, which promotes and develops junior woodchopping throughout New Zealand.

“That’s what I’m most proud of,” he says.

“It’s all about the juniors for me. I could sit on the sideline and watch juniors all day.

“I want our top competitors to have more competition, and the only way they will have that is if we have the young ones coming up.”

He follows Charlie Morgan of Timaru who was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the sport in 2017.

Fawcett is unstinting in his praise of Morgan, a handicapper and judge who works throughout the South Island – you get the impression he would rather talk about someone else rather than his own QSM, which he describes as “quite an honour and quite a shock”.

“But it’s very good for woodchopping.”

Tuatahi is now something of a family operation with his daughter Jo, son Grant, and grandson Quintin all involved.

And his latest honour certainly won’t signal any slowdown in his involvement in the sport.

His support of junior woodchopping continues, and he has ideas for another innovation in the future.

With logs being of variable hardness, competitors are often chopping on an uneven playing field and Fawcett sees possibilities in a composite log made out of woodchips and glue.

“It’s to try and make it even,” he says.

“And we only use a small part of the logs we get. If we turned that timber into wood chips and used that, we would also save a lot of wood.”

Varied career rewarded for Masterton woman

Rachael Kathleen Dean – Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to governance and the community

Rachael Kathleen Dean is appointed a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to governance and the community.

Dean lives in Masterton and has been a city councillor in Invercargill and has had a career in both the not-for-profit and business sector, including in Taranaki and Waikato.

She has brought considerable accounting and financial expertise to several roles in many sectors and regions and has been a driving force in leading change for women.

Dean was appointed to the Southland Area Health Board from 1989 to 1991, and later chaired the Patients’ Satisfaction Committee.

As a first-time Invercargill City Councillor in 1992, she chaired the Rating Review Committee, successfully managing a three-year rating change project.

She was appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Waikato Heath Board from 2005 to 2011.

She joined Rural Women New Zealand in 2005 and worked as Regional Development Officer for the Waikato Taranaki region. In 2015 she was elected to the national board and the role of national finance chair until November 2018.

She brought considerable accounting and financial expertise to the board during a period of organisational change.

She was instrumental in enabling RWNZ to recover a substantial amount of debt.

From 2007 to 2011, she was a board member of Diving New Zealand and a Trustee of Sport Waikato from 2011 to 2018.

She was also a board member and deputy chairwoman of the Waikato Chamber of Commerce from 2013 to 2015. In 2018 she was selected for the Waikato 125 project, celebrating 125 Waikato women who have been instrumental in leading and driving change for women.

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