Powerlifting in New Zealand | Selecting a Federation
Updated: Mar 5
Powerlifting is pretty confusing for new lifters, right? This guide is designed to run you through each Powerlifting federation in New Zealand at a basic level and hopefully help you make a decision on where you will eventually compete.
What is a federation? In layman's terms, a governing body. New Zealand has 4 different powerlifting federations, each linked to a different international body. Each of these federations have different rules, pertaining to weight classes, age classes, lifting standards, acceptable equipment and there are also significant differences in competition depth and competitive opportunities.
Before we start talking about each federations benefits and drawbacks, the table below details many of the main differences between each of the 4 Powerlifting federations in New Zealand; The New Zealand Powerlifting Federation, Global Powerlifting Committee NZ, International Powerlifting League NZ and World Powerlifting NZ.
Drug Tested Federations
Certain federations are drug tested, much like other sports (Think Rugby, Netball, Athletics etc). In New Zealand we now have two options for athletes that wish to lift on a drug-free playing field; NZPF & WPNZ.
The New Zealand Powerlifting Federation:
The NZPF is New Zealand's oldest and biggest federation and they are affiliated with the International Powerlifting Federation (The IPF) - The biggest powerlifting organisation in the world, with the most member nations, competitors and biggest meets. NZPF and the IPF are both WADA (World Anti-Doping Authority) affiliated and therefore, all registered lifters may be tested in and out of competition (Whether or not they're in the registered testing pool). World wide, in 2019 over half of the total powerlifting competitors competed with the IPF, or it's affiliates.
The NZPF caters to two divisions of lifting; Raw (Knee Sleeves) and Single-Ply Equipped. Raw accounts for around 98% of competitors in New Zealand. Raw lifting in the NZPF is becoming more and more competitive, especially in the 83 & 93kg men's weight classes and the 63 & 72kg women's weight classes.
The NZPF has been the federation of choice for greats and IPF World Champions such as Brett Gibbs, Derek Pomana and Cathy Millen (To name just a few). On the international front, competing with the NZPF allows athletes that meet certain criteria to compete internationally at a range of events, such as the World Championships, Commonwealth Championships & Oceania Championships.
Competing with the NZPF gives athletes access to supportive regional affiliates (I.E Auckland Powerlifting Association, the Canterbury Powerlifting Association). These affiliates are the ones who organise competitions at the regional level and are usually who you'll initially interact with when you're first getting into Powerlifting.
It's important to know, that if you choose to lift with NZPF that you can't also lift with another organisation (either a federation or unsanctioned event) unless you gain written consent by the National Executive Committee.
In 2019, Taylor Atwood (USA) was ranked the best male lifter in the world, regardless of weight class.
World Powerlifting New Zealand:
WPNZ and World Powerlifting were created by some former IPF members, who weren't happy with the direction of the federation and thus a number of rules are fairly similar to that of the IPF but there are a few differences.
WPNZ, like NZPF is linked to Drug-Free Sport NZ (Who governs all sports that strive to be drug-free) but as far as we can tell World Powerlifting is not linked to WADA (Based on listed WADA signatories).
World Powerlifting has a unique set of weight classes, with many of the weight classes sitting in between IPF Weight classes. Notably, the lightest men's class is 62kg and the heaviest women's weight class starts at 100kg.
As well as this, in competition, all weight increments are 1kg - A change from the traditional 2.5kg increments. This is in the same vein as Olympic lifting and could possibly make lifting competitions a tighter race.
As World Powerlifting was formed in 2018, it's still very much in its infancy so lacks the competition depth of bigger federations but the people involved in running the organisation are very experienced which can make for some fun, well-organised events.
Non-Drug Tested Federations
You know how we mentioned that certain federations are drug tested? Conversely, some aren't, or only are at the lifters' request. How you interpret that is up to you entirely.
Global Powerlifting Committee NZ:
GPCNZ came to be around 2014 off the back of an explosion of GPC Powerlifting in Australia. GPCNZ offers a credible way to compete, using all the bells & whistles that you'll likely recognise if your first exposure to Powerlifting was the infamous Dan Green.
GPC uses the classic powerlifting weight classes (Same for men & women, with the exception of the heavyweight classes) and competitors use specialty bars such as 25 or 30kg Squat-specific bars and "whippy" deadlift bars.
Weigh-ins are 24 hours before lifting commences, meaning you can probably partake in a bigger weight cut, without detrimental effect.
GPC is the biggest of the two non-drug tested federations in New Zealand (Based off information available on Open Powerlifting). It's fair to say that GPCNZ is most competitive in the heavier men's weight classes, with some of NZs biggest totals coming from the GPC Ranks.
Cailer Woolam pulling 430kg on a deadlift bar - An implement used in GPC powerlifting.
International Powerlifting League NZ:
The IPLNZ has been known by a few names during its time including UPANZ & CAPO. As well as this, IPLNZs affiliation to an International Body has changed from GPA/WPC to the International Powerlifting League. The IPL is arguably the best-known non-drug tested international federation as it contains the USPA under its umbrella.
IPLNZ has more 3-lift divisions than any other organisation in New Zealand including Raw, Classic Raw, Singly-Ply and Multi-Ply and as well as that, offer the opportunity for athletes to compete drug tested (Although, we're not sure if this is currently happening in New Zealand).
Similar to GPCNZ, IPLNZ uses specialty bars where available, however, lifters are required to walk their squats out from the rack unless they're competing Multi-Ply.
While we wish there were just two choices: Tested & Non-Tested that isn't the reality of Powerlifting in New Zealand. If anything the fact we have 4 choices is good vs the rest of the world (Where there are a huge number of organisations all claiming to be the best choice for lifters).
We encourage you to do your own research on where you want to compete. Powerlifting is growing at a huge rate, so being involved in general is most important.
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