Athletes at the 2017 South Island Masters Games, which were held in Nelson for the last time after Sport Tasman decided to pull its support of the event. Photo Barry Whinall/Shuttersport.

Masters games retired


An annual showcase for our ageing athletes has been retired.

After four years of competition, the much-loved South Island Masters will no longer run in Nelson.

Sport Tasman has decided to discontinue its support of the games which were held biannually in Timaru and Nelson.

CEO Nigel Muir says it was an incredibly difficult decision to make.

“We love the games, it is a magnificent event but at the end of the day we just weren’t getting the numbers and it wasn’t sustainable.”

During the four events staged in Nelson, Nigel says numbers have been steadily declining from about 2400 at the inaugural games to 1800 at the most recent.

“Masters sport is on the rise, we are seeing many more participants in the big swim and run events, but the games environment is just not having the same appeal,” Nigel says.

Sport Tasman worked closely with the late Colin Aitken [a former councillor and driver of Saxton Field] to originally bring the games to Nelson.

“We wanted a big event that would help showcase Saxton Field and Nelson, the Nelson City Council and New Zealand Community Trust were major partners with Sport Tasman from the get go.”

Nigel says the games have been a significant success for the Nelson region bringing in thousands of visitors and millions of dollars of economic benefit over the past decade.

“We have over the years tried lots of new formats to keep the Games fresh, but it unfortunately got to the point where it was uneconomic for Sport Tasman to keep running the event and hence our decision to let the games go.”

He says Sport Tasman is hugely appreciative of the many partners, volunteers and participants who supported the games over the years.

“It’s been an incredible journey and so much fun over the years to be part of.”

However, Sport Tasman are looking at alternatives to fill the void for older athletes.

“We currently have a number of “irons in the fire” as replacement concepts for the games. Watch this space, we are busy behind the scenes working on a particularly exciting project at the moment that will definitely help get more people, more active.”