3 Nov 2018

Zane Wedding: 'Competitive tree climbing is like ballet'

From Saturday Morning, 8:45 am on 3 November 2018

Tree climbing is a spectator sport and New Zealanders are world-class at it, so if you're in Dunedin next weekend get along to the national tree climbing champs, says Zane Wedding (Ngāti Kuri, Ngāti Pikiao).

Zane Wedding in action

Zane Wedding in action Photo: supplied

Zane is currently ranked the fourth best tree climber in the country and is also a senior lecturer in arboriculture (tree maintenance) at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

To be a good competitive tree climber you have to be a good arborist and you also have to practice… a lot, he tells Kim Hill.

Tree climbing involves a number of events including the Secured Footlock, for which New Zealander Chrissy Spence holds the world record.

Watch NZ tree climber Chrissy Spence  in action: 

Zane's favourite event is Aerial Rescue – in which climbers have to rescue a dummy hanging in a tree – for the creativity of movement it allows.

In a tree climbing competition, grace of movement – such as how delicately someone lands on a branch – is assessed, as well as how high and how fast they can move through trees, he says.

"If you can move onto a branch without making that branch move and if you can demonstate complete control when you're up there a judge will score you really well for that.

"It's very much in-tree ballet."

Watch NZ tree climber James Kilpatrick in action: 

The New Zealand winners will go on to next year's world tree climbing champs in Tennessee.

To become a world champ, like Kiwis Chrissy Spence, James Kilpatrick and Nicky Ward-Allen, you've got to practice a lot, be really fit and have highly refined techniques, Zane says.

The 2018 Husqvarna National Tree Climbing Championships will be held on 9-10 November at The Reserve, Museum of Otago, Dunedin.

Watch NZ tree climber Nicky Ward-Allen in action: