1948 - 1980 A Game for All
On the 28th of January 1948 the New Zealand Women's Bowling Association was formed at a meeting held on the Otago Ladies' Bowling Association pavilion.
Image: Logo of the NZ Womens Bowling Association that existed between 1948 and 1996.
Initially there were 12 member Centres and some 2716 affiliated players. At this time, Councillors were the only ones allowed to wear cream-coloured clothing instead of white. This gave rise to them being commonly referred to as 'the cream puffs'.
It was also at this time that the New Zealand Bowling Association Council decided that it was time to establish a national headquarters for the national body. Auckland was chosen and remains the place to this date where Bowls New Zealand administers the sport at a national level. Over the following half century, the mens and womens national organisations co-existed peacefully and followed similar paths. It was during this time that international bowls began to become more serious in nature. Early international games were often tours that focused on the social aspect of the game. There was a tendency to reward exceptional administrators and 'bowls men' rather than purely competitive bowlers.
In 1966, the Empire games were held in Jamaica. Unfortunately there were no suitable greens there and as such, bowling was removed from that year's programme. As a result, international bowling communities responded with the development of the World Bowls Championship and this was conducted for the first time in 1966.
Image: Englishman DJ Bryant went on to win the first World Singles title at the inaugural World Bowls Championship.
16 Countries competed and the New Zealand fours team won the inaugural fours championship. It was felt that the World Championships were a great success and they have continued to be held every four years since. A World Championship was created for the women's game in 1969, however, New Zealand did not enter a team. New Zealand did enter a team into the World Championships of 1973 (held at the Victoria Bowls Club in Wellington, New Zealand) and it was an unprecedented success. New Zealand achieved a gold medal in three out of the four events, and a silver in the other.
Women's Singles - Elsie Wilkie
Women's Triples - Irene Foote (s), Noeleen Scott, Cis Winstanley
Women's Fours - Irene Foote (s), Noeleen Scott, Cis Winstanley, Verna Devlin
In 1988 the Women's and Men's World Championships were held at the same venue (Henderson) for the first time, this continues to this day and was a sign of things to come for the sport in New Zealand.