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Northland bowlers take to Mangawhai greens



thumbnail 5 MF-BowlTourn6-343JULIA WADE

Rolling out under a brilliant blue sky, a game requiring precision, patience and strategy was played out on local greens recently by nearly 200 visiting and local bowling athletes.

Mangawhai Bowling Club’s (MBC) greens were teeming with players for the annual Mangawhai Bowls Presidents Invitation tournament on February 25, the event attracting 192 bowlers from far afield clubs like Ngunguru, Kamo, Arapohue, Orewa and Riverhead, to closer neighbours such as One Tree Point, Maungaturoto, Waipu and Mangawhai’s own locals.

Grouped into 48 teams, players took to the club’s two natural star-weed rinks and all-weather artificial carpet to compete for a first, second, third and fourth prize meat pack, as well a lucky prize and raffles of chooks, scallops, prawns and legs of lamb.

Supported by Whangarei firm Yovich & Co Wealth Management, ‘proud sponsors of bowls in Northland’, the tournament was organised by MBC member Paul Freeman, club president Gerry Mulligan says.

“We get quite well supported as we’re known for putting up a fairly generous prize table, as the club also donates money for the prizes on top of the sponsorship,” he says. “Even though it’s called the ‘Presidents Invitation’ and I’m the president, Paul’s the person behind the scenes who has done all the work, organising the teams and the event, he’s been very busy and done a great job.”

thumbnail 5 MF-BowlTourn4-650MBC had a large number of first year bowlers in the tournament this year Mulligan says, and although the 90-minute games appeared relaxed and the atmosphere laid back, there were a few sport stars stepping onto the green.

“It’s a fairly easy day for bowlers, not a lot of bowls, although having said that, there are some very competitive bowlers here today,” he says. “Probably the most decorated bowler in regard to Northland titles is Onerahi member John Dunn who has won fifty events giving him a total of ten gold stars.”

Northland Bowling Centre bowling events are ‘the top of the pile for Northland’ where players earn a gold star for every five events won.

“We also have some very accomplished bowlers of our own with Sue Wightman, who has three gold stars, and her husband Paul has one. We are a very competitive bowling club,” he says and adds jokingly, “and it’s always nice to have a victory over the boys from the city, from any of the Whangarei clubs.”

A bowler since the mid-90s, Mulligan says when he started playing, bowls had to be either black or brown and the dress code stipulated ‘whites only’.

“It was a lot stricter 25 years ago especially for the ladies. Their dresses had to be a certain amount of inches off the ground and sleeves of their blouses were measured.

You couldn’t wear a sleeveless thing. When I was in a junior tournament in Whangarei I remember the umpire pointing out a fellow member who had grey socks on… it’s a lot more relaxed now. You should see some of the colours that are worn these days,” he says. “Bowling had to get into the modern ages to attract younger members, we offer shorter games now, not just the long all-day events.”

thumbnail 5 MF-BowlTourn3-22Besides club tournaments, both internal and involving outside clubs, MBC holds club championships, junior games, first-year bowling events and the Northland Championships as well as coaching and winter bowls, made possible due to the all-weather green. The club also offers events for the community to have a go at the sport including the post-Christmas non-bowler’s games which encourages teams to bowl in fancy dress, and the weekly ‘business’ bowling hour with buffet, drinks and prizes.

“Though some teams are just three mates who get together, it’s not strict,” Mulligan says. “Bowling does involve precision and is a very tactical game but it can also be very social.”

n Interested in rolling a bowl? Visit mangawhai.bowls.org.nz or drop in to Mangawhai Bowls Inc., The Club, 219 Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai Heads.


“The day was very successful and timing could not have been better – if it had been this past week it would have been cancelled.”

- Paul Freeman


thumbnail 5 MF-BowlTourn1-3441: Tournament organiser Paul Freeman shows his style on the green.

3: Leads guide their teammates as things get crowded around the jack.

4: Bowling is tactical, but also very social says club president Gerry Mulligan.

6: Prizegiving is always a popular end to any tournament.

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