Bay of Plenty bowlers made it a sporting weekend to remember over Waikato by winning the Thelma Kidd Memorial Trophy on the sun-drenched greens at Bowls Tauranga South on Sunday.

While the senior and junior combined teams' victory was meritorious in its own right, winning the trophy meant much more than just another tournament win.

The event is named after a former multiple New Zealand title holder who died in New Plymouth 22 years ago on the first morning of a new mixed men and women's tournament originally organised between the Waikato and Taranaki bowls associations.

Thelma Kidd and her husband Malcolm lived in Taranaki but once he moved to Tauranga, the tournament format changed to be played between Bay of Plenty and Waikato in 2010.


Malcolm, a former past president of Bowls New Zealand and an active playing member of Tauranga South, said Thelma was ahead of her time in encouraging mixed bowls tournaments.

"There was little play of a mixed nature back then so the tournament was a bit of a game changer. I was a Taranaki boy and she was a Waikato girl and the two associations said let's play. They would rarely play on a bowling green before then," he said.

Malcolm was a keen spectator on Sunday to see another outstanding day's bowls on the 23rd occasion of the annual event.

"I am absolutely delighted that the interest has been maintained for so long and that it is achieving everything Thelma set out to see, with the elite playing alongside the youngsters, or the aspiring elite, on the same green," he said.

"It is serving a very good purpose and that is how it was designed. Selectors are looking for squads for later on when the big matches come and they can watch players here competing for places."

The best of the elite bowlers from both provinces took part on Sunday. The uniqueness of the event was they teamed up with bowlers who have played for less than eight years.

It was a special day, particularly for the less experienced bowlers who got to compete with bowlers of the quality of Bay of Plenty's John O'Shea and Sue Hodges, who won the women's singles on Sunday.

The former national title holder said the history behind the tournament was what made it so special.

"Thelma Kidd won two New Zealand titles and had to play three games in one day," Hodges said. "That is significant for both provinces. It is also gives not just the senior players but the up-and-coming players a really good opportunity to play at top level."

The competitive nature of a Bay of Plenty v Waikato clash added to the Thelma Kidd Memorial, she said.

"But there is also a good camaraderie between the teams when you look around at the games being played."

Judging by the smiles and chatter among the players around the barbecue and in the bar area afterwards, there was no shortage of fun times had on Sunday.

Just as Thelma Kidd always wanted it to be.