Axe, racing; [?]; mid 20th century; CT08.4853.1


Axe, racing

About this object

Racing axe; a 5-pound “Hytest” Competition Axe, stored in a custom-built wooden box with hinged lid. The axe belonged to Ron Lemm, who used it in many wood chopping competitions.

Ron was born in Owaka in 1933, and was educated at Kahuika and MacLennan schools. He began bush work with his father in 1948. Ron’s grandfather Ernie Coote had been a Southland Champion Axeman in the 1920s and this inspired Ron to enter competitions himself. His first win was the Novice 12-inch Underhand Chop at the Chaslands Sports on 5 November 1950.

Sawmilling, logging and bush clearance occupied the working lives of many Catlins men and it was natural that chopping and sawing races were prominent events at local Sports Days and Caledonian Society Meetings. The blocks to be chopped were numbered and allocated by drawing lots. The chopping blocks were usually kamahi and the sawing blocks rimu. Ron competed for 23 years and enjoyed the social atmosphere as much as the competition.

Each axeman carefully shaped a new axe-head with a file to produce a slightly raised area near the centre of the blade, this was the “bust” which stopped the axe from jamming in the log when a blow was delivered. The length of the hickory handle was governed by the height of the man, the taller the man, the longer the handle. Each axe-head was examined to check that the casting was symmetrical and the axe well balanced. Ron purchased this axe from Stan Wybrow for £10 ($20, or about 40 hours wages for a bushman) A normal working axe weighed 4 pounds ( 1.6 kg) and cost 15 shillings and 3 pence ($1.52, or about 3 hours wages) The handle has been lightly scored with a rasp to give it an improved grip.



Date Made

mid 20th century

Place Made


Medium and Materials

processed material, metal, iron; organic, vegetal, wood, hickory; organic, vegetal, wood, beech.


1: h 35mm x l 740mm x w 180mm
2: h 225mm x l 960mm x w 135mm

Subject and Association Keywords

recreation. leisure, outdoor life. outdoor recreation

Credit Line

From the collection of Owaka Museum Wahi Kahuika The Meeting Place "a rest on your journey"

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

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