The gradual but significant changing of the guard in lawn bowls evident at the annual men's fours tournament at Houhora on Waitangi Day was well summed up by local commentator, Pauline Ogilvy.
"Twenty-three years ago at the inaugural event, the green was a sea of white clothing, how times change, now it is the colours of the rainbow with the players wearing their club's colours and playing with brightly coloured bowls," said Pauline in her report on the day [featuring below].
And just as notable among the field of mostly older players at the event were two up-and-coming players whose potential has been closely monitored in Far North bowling circles: 10-year-old Kenny Mokoraka of Kaikohe (who won the youth achievement award for bowling at the FNDC Sports Awards last September), and 13-year-old Zane Beckett representing the Kaitaia Church Road Club.
Another local rising star, 17-year-old Clayton Hockley, was conspicuous by his absence at the 4s, but grandfather and Houhora bowling stalwart, Russell Hockley, advised the teenager was now at school in Auckland and playing these days for the renowned Takapuna club.
Noting that Clayton was expected to return for Houhora's other major event of the summer, the highly anticipated Kaimoana tournament on March 2, Russell said this emerging youth vanguard was vital for the game's survival.
"At the prizegiving after the game, I thanked the older members for bringing these young ones to Houhora. Bowls is losing players at the top and we need more coming through the bottom."
While the genteel art of lawn and indoor bowling still attracted the elderly and retired to keep active by offering a midweek tournament programme, more and more younger players are being introduced to the game through grandparents and also secondary schools programmes initiated by the governing body.
It's a list which includes one of the region's best talents and a poster boy for Far North bowling, Monte Pawa jnr who has gone on to gain a fearsome nationwide reputation as a bit of a giantkiller.
The report on the Houhora tournament features below.
Cowley's Hire Men's 4sSixteen teams made up of players from Cooper's Beach, Far North RSA, Kaeo, Kaikohe, Kaitaia Combined, Kerikeri, Oruru, Whangarei and the host club Houhora took part in the Cowley's Hire Men's 4s at Houhora last Wednesday.
The event, traditionally held on Waitangi Day, celebrated its 23rd anniversary this year, and allowed club reporter Pauline Ogilvy, part of a small and elite group who had pretty much been involved with the event from its inception, to reminisce.
She went on to say the Houhora club's renowned hospitality was to the fore once again, including morning tea after the first game and then, following the completion of another two games, a cooked lunch was served.
"The ladies of the club had been busy preparing a meal of ham, sausages and gravy, hot vegetables and a selection of different salads," she said, noting afternoon tea was served at the conclusion of the games while the cards were tallied up, while chunks of watermelon were ever present on the day to combat the considerable heat.
At prizegiving, match convenor Russell Hockley thanked the sponsors for their continued support over the past 23 years and introduced the sponsor's representatives, Clive and Lorraine Jarrett, who then gave a history of the tournament. Participant Noel Hodge also spoke, noting he had played in all 23 tournaments, thanked the sponsors and especially the ladies in the kitchen for the cooked meal they prepare every year, and promised to return next year.
And among the many other compliments organisers received on the day, Kevin Briscoe from the Kaitaia Combined club thanked the club's ladies for their work behind the scenes: "Keep it up ladies, you are the backbone of the club."
From a format of 5 games of 1 hour 10 minutes per game, the results were, Cedric Campbell (skip) Kevin Briscoe, Sandy Edmonds and Mike Reedy 4 wins, 28 ends, 58 points, 1; Harry Wihongi, Donny Holmes, Bruce Shepherd and Kenny Mokoraka 4, 26, 47, 2; Terry Hemi, Merv Kennedy, Nigel Leslie and Alan Martin 4, 26, 40, 3.
More bowling news features inside on page 16.