At the seventh time of asking, Hawkes Bay representative Mere Nepia combined with former Blackjack Sharon Sims, Lillian Renata and Christina Bryan to take out the acclaimed Aotearoa National Maori Bowls title, becoming the first Bay View player to lift the silverware since its inception.
The event, first held in 1975 at Hamilton, was initiated to help promote bowls within the maori community – with the idea put forward that the championships would be held as an annual tournament on or near Waitangi weekend.
Both men’s and women’s fours team can compete, with the only limitation being that each team can only have one non-Maori player – with further conditions clearly stating that particular player is ineligible to skip.
In it’s 45th edition, host centre Hawkes Bay welcomed 56 men’s and 42 women’s quartets to the picturesque HQ (National Service Club) – an increase of 20 teams overall in a trend that will delight event organisers following their plea for greater support last year.
The women’s action saw Nepia’s side defeat former two-time champion Paula Meredith, Sarah Taukamo, Merani Davies and Robin Rintoul, with Nepia collecting a game-changing four shots on the penultimate end, rounding out the 10-end final, 13-11 and gifting the $2000 winners’ cheque to the elated Nepia, who confessed the title was a “dream come true”.
In the semi-final, Nepia’s team showed plenty of courage and fight to overturn a three shot deficit heading in to the final end, claiming a four to edge past Tamaki Makarau’s Chingy Tate, Sophina Ngaika, Maria Taka and Shirley Taipari, 8-7 in a thrilling encounter.
The other semi-final saw Meredith’s side end the title run of two-time winner and Tamaki Makarau’s greatest hope Doreen Jensen, Karen Hema, McKenzie Blucher and Lavinia Ruka, with Meredith’s side comfortably progressing 10-5.
Defending champions Gaylene Harvey, Natarsha Grimshaw, Tanya Wheeler and Kaaren Guilford will be left pondering what might have been, narrowly failing to qualify on a countback of two ends in favour of Jensen’s four.
Meanwhile, the men’s action saw Whanganui’s Richard Morgan, Wayne Armstrong, Bob Thomas and Danny Madden take the taonga and the championship title, defeating the formidable Waikato side of John Kawana, Tony Parkinson, Hopa Bell and Merv Gibbons, 13-8 in a crowd-pleasing finale.
Earlier in the piece,
Morgan’s contingent stopped fellow Whanganui hopefuls Mike Solomon, Matt
Hunter, Lee Hunter and Pat O’Neil in their tracks, edging a solitary point
victory, 8-7 to progress to the main feature. The other semi-final saw Kawana
put paid to the title run of Marshall Tyson, Mark Morete, Ian Hartley and
Rawiri Shetlock, 9-6 – Tyson, also representing Whanganui.
In other results, the Kahungunu side of Tash Haronga, M J Rickard, Diane Durham and Joni Hakopa proved too strong in the women’s second flight, while Bay View’s Wayne Parker spearheaded victory in the men’s second flight, combining with Joe Johanson, John Garnham and Jim Cornish to defeat last year’s championship side skipped by Ray Lovie.
The 46th Aotearoa National Bowls Championships will return in 2020, with the Taranaki province set to build on this year’s success, with organisers hoping to attract an even greater field in the months ahead.
Results at a Glance
45th Aotearoa National Bowls Championships, Hawkes Bay
Champions: Richard Morgan, Wayne Armstrong, Bob Thomas, Danny Madden (Whanganui a-Tara)
R/Up: John Kawana, Tony Parkinson, Hopa Bell, Merv Gibbons (Waikato)
Champions: Mere Nepia, Sharon Sims, Lillian Renata, Christina Bryan (Composite)
R/Up: Paula Meredith, Sarah Taukamo, Merani Davies, Robin Rintoul (Whanganui a-Tara)