Popular Hawke's Bay bowler Mere Nepia described her winning of the Aotearoa National Maori title in Hastings as a "dream come true" today.
"I've been chasing this title for seven years now. To be the first Bay View player to win a National Maori Championship title when the tournament is played in Hawke's Bay for the first time is pretty special," Nepia said as she was smothered in congratulatory hugs and kisses at the National Service Club.
Nepia, three Sharon Sims of Palmerston North, two Lillian Renata of Wellington and lead Christina Bryan of Palmerston North beat a Whanganui-a-Tara team of skip Paula Meredith, three Sarah Taukamo, two Merani Davies and lead Robin Rintoul 13-11 to claim their first prize of $2000. Picking up four shots on the ninth end of the 10-end final was crucial for Nepia and co.
"This has to be right up there with the highlight of my 10 years in bowls ... being a member of the winning team at the 2011 Taranaki Open Fours," Nepia said.
"Being in the winning team in the 2017 North Island Chartered Clubs tournament here in the Bay was another highlight."
Nepia pointed out trust in one another was a key ingredient to her team's success during the weekend's 45th annual tournament which attracted 56 men's and 42 women's teams.
"Everyone did their job and nobody growled. Sharon was awesome and put no pressure on me ... she was so composed," Nepia said of multiple world champion and 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sims.
"I wasn't going to play in the tournament because our Bay View club was one of the host clubs and I thought I would be working behind the scenes. My clubmates encouraged me to enter and I'm glad I did. We will be back again with the same team next year with the aim of going back-to-back when the tournament is played in Taranaki," she added.
Nepia's team collected four on the final end to pip the Tamaki Makaurau team of skip Chingy Tate, three Sophina Ngaika, two Maria Taka and lead Shirley Taipari 8-7 in their semifinal. The other women's semifinal saw Meredith's team beat Tamaki Makaurau's two-time winner of the title Doreen Jensen and her team of three Karen Hema, two McKenzie Blucher and lead Lavinia Ruka 10-5.
A Kahungunu women's team of skip Gaylene Harvey and three Natarsha Grimshaw of Bowls Hastings and Wellingtonians, two Tanya Wheeler and led Kaaren Guilford, the defending champions, missed out on a berth in the championship section on a countback of two ends to Jensen's four after Saturday's five qualifying games.
The men's final saw a Whanganui-a-Tara team of skip Richard Morgan, three Wayne Armstrong, two Bob Thomas and lead Danny Madden beat a Waikato team of skip John Kawana, three Tony Parkinson, two Hopa Bell and lead Merv Gibbons 13-8.
Picking up four on the seventh end to take a 9-4 lead was the key to Morgan and co's $2000 collect.
In the men's semifinals Morgan's team pipped another Whanganui-a-Tara quartet of skip Mike Solomon, three Matt Hunter, two Lee Hunter and lead Pat O'Neil, a late replacement from Bowls Hastings, 8-7 with one shot on the final end and Kawana's team beat Marshall Tyson's Whanganui-a-Tara team which also included three Mark Morete, two Ian Hartley and lead Rawiri Shetlock 9-6.
Another Kahungunu women's team of skip Tash Haronga, three M J Rickard, two Diane Durham and lead Joni Hakopa won the second flight. Nepia's Bay View clubmate Wayne Parker skipped a Kahungunu team of three Joe Johanson, two John Garnham and lead Jim Cornish to victory in their second flight final against the Whanganui-a-Tara quartet skipped by Ray Lovie which won last year's championship title.