Bucket hats will be a common accessory for Raumati Bowling Club members from now on.

The club has produced a new bucket hat with club colours and is encouraging members to wear them to help withstand the effects of sun damage.

The club had a special visit from New Zealand Cancer Society chief executive Mike Kernaghan, himself a world-class bowler, who helped promote the new hat as well as reaffirm the society's Sun Smart message.

Mr Kernaghan said caps didn't protect ears or the back of the neck, but a wider brimmed hat offered greater coverage.

Advertisement

"Hats are only one part of it though."

Sunscreen should be applied every two and a half hours, people should look for areas that offered shade, wearing sunglasses was important, and be aware of cloudy days which were susceptible to UV rays.

"Anything above 3 on the UV scale you need to be protecting yourself.

"And between 10am and 4.30pm typically in the height of summer is when you really need to be conscious of it."

New Zealand now had the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.

"There are 90,000 new skin cancer diagnosis every year of which 2700 are melanoma — which is the one you don't want to get.

"Skin cancer deaths account for more than the road toll each year in New Zealand and yet there's no investment in the messaging.

"We get pretty grumpy with the Government as there's a lot of money spent around the road toll messaging but only $600,000 invested in messaging through the Health Promotion Agency each year around Sun Smart.

Advertisement

"That's simply not good enough."

A key factor in the high rates was because the southern hemisphere was closer to the sun in the summer than the northern hemisphere.

"You're more prone to the sun, especially if you have got fair skin."

Another issue, which was part of the challenge, was that "skin never forgets".

"So when you are a bulletproof teenager and lying out in the sun at the beach, and get burned, skin cancer might not manifest itself for 20, 30, 40 years, but the skin remembers that it has had damage.

"And because we're living longer, the risk is higher."

Mr Kernaghan wears a bucket hat especially when he's bowling at club level or higher.

He has won gold at the fours in the 2016 world championships, has represented New Zealand many times, is a Commonwealth Games and Asia Pacific medallist and has won numerous national titles.

He's enjoying seeing bucket hats become more common among bowlers including representative level.

"There was an international event on the Gold Coast, Australia, in June, and for the first time the New Zealand team was issued with floppy hats.

"And most of the team wore them."