Pure South Sharp Blacks: search for NZ’s best butchers

2016 team member Rowan Lee in action earlier this year.

New Zealand’s national butchery team, the Pure South Sharp Blacks, are set to compete in the 2018 World Butchers’ Challenge in Ireland and the hunt is on for six of NZ’s best butchers.

Butchers are invited to nominate themselves for a place on the national squad of six, who will travel to Belfast in March, 2018 to represent New Zealand.

The World Butchers’ Challenge is designed to showcase the highest level of skill in butchery and involves each team breaking down a side of beef, pork and a whole lamb into a themed display of value-added cuts all within a three-hour time-frame.

The 2016 Pure South Sharp Blacks were: Hannah Miller, John Cox, Greg Egerton, Nolton Laing, Corey Winder and Rowan Lee.

Corey Winder, 2016 team captain, says the upcoming competition is already delivering a hefty task as it looks to grow from four nations to over eight.

“I’ve competed for the last six years from when it all begin in 2011 as a Trans-Tasman competition; it’s been gaining momentum ever since the UK joined in 2013 and this year France competed for the first time.

“Now that the competition has been set for Ireland in 2018 we’ve had interest from Scotland, Germany, Italy and Spain. Even though France were newcomers this year, they took out the title so there’s no doubt in my mind these new countries will raise the bar even higher,” says Winder.

The Pure South Sharp Blacks won the competition three consecutive years in a row, from 2013 to 2015 and are seen as world-leaders when it comes to innovation in butchery.

Team manager and selector, Todd Heller says he’s looking for butchers with not only technique to rival the best in the world but those with passion and a love of the industry.

“What these butchers do when they come together as a team is incredible, I’ve seen team members pour their heart and soul into this competition and they come out on the other side with lifelong friends and mentors from all around the world.”

“What the Pure South Sharp Blacks do is not dissimilar to any of our national sporting teams; they’re representing us in an international arena, putting New Zealand on the map,” says Heller.

The team is sponsored by Pure South, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc and New Zealand Pork. For further details and a nomination form visit rmnz.co.nz

Watch some highlights of the 2016 competition, held on 10 September in the Gold Coast, Australia:


The World Butcher’s Challenge was born in 2011, when a butchery competition between New Zealand and Australia – dubbed the Trans-Tasman Test Match – was established. This grew in 2013, when a UK team made the long journey across the globe to compete in Wanaka to compete in the newly renamed Tri-Nation’s Butchers’ Challenge. The Pure South All Blacks were triumphant winners in 2011, 2013 and also 2014. Newcomer France stepped up to the plate in 2016 to be named later as the winners of the 2016 World Butchers’ Challenge.

With Scotland, Germany, Italy and Spain potentially added to the 2018 competition, which country will be the next champions to lift the trophy?


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