Bowls is a sport that demands much concentration and patience.

It's not everyone's 'cup of tea' but for Ngāti Kahungunu iwi employee Kerrin Fair, and thousands of lawn bowls players, bowls is very much a sport for strategic minded people who are persistent yet subtle in their approach.

"Well, that's how we have summed up the sport here at the iwi office," Fair said.

Fair has entered into a few international tournaments as an individual but earlier this month he participated in his first national bowls tournament in the Summerset Nationals Singles and Pairs held in Auckland.


He said it was quite a new experience. After the tournament he was interviewed by Bowls NZ media specialist Rob Davis, who wrote an article about him. Much of the following comments are from Bowls NZ.

Bowlers may have been a little surprised to see a competitor in a wheelchair, but for Kerrin's Kia Toa Bowling Club team, it was just another tournament, with Kerrin doing what he does best – play bowls.

"I don't really regard myself as 'disabled' on the bowling green - It's a great leveller." says Kerrin. "Bowls is a sport where I can play against anyone. I'm just a bit wobbly in the legs. But if I'm good enough on the day, I may win the game."

Kerrin said that there are a lot of great bowlers out there, some who may never win anything, but bowls is more about being positive and taking the opportunity to play against some of the best players in New Zealand - which is the great thing about the nationals.

For Kerrin, preparing for a tournament is a little more than laundering his whites and polishing his bowls. To stop the greenkeeper getting grumpy, Kerrin has to pimp out his wheelchair with a minimum 45mm wide slicks on the rear, and the front wheels need to be raised to regulation height.

"I use a couple of BMX tyres, cover them with inner tubes, then wrap them up in duct tape." The result is an 'impressive' ride across the green.

Kerrin has been playing bowls for the last four years, soon after he inherited his grandad's bowls.

He has found that he can compete in both able-bodied and disabled competitions – which he happily moves between.

In both 2017 and 2018, Kerrin played in the disabled section of the Australian Open on the Gold Coast in the Singles, and in the Pairs with Reilly Paterson from Balclutha. It's an experience they both plan to repeat.

Kerrin will be playing in a team of four at the Aotearoa National Bowls Tournament hosted in Kahungunu in February.

Lessons from Kerrin:

* You can achieve anything you put your mind to.

* It's not always about winning.

* Be positive. You win when you let go of your fears and just enjoy yourself.