1996 - 2009
Bowling into the 21st Century
In 1993 a task force comprised of members from both organisations was formed to work towards creating Bowls New Zealand, the vision was to create an organisation where men and woman would be able to work together to take the sport of bowls in New Zealand into the 21st century. This labour of love finally bore fruit in 1996 when both organisations voted to amalgamate and create Bowls New Zealand.
Image: one of the first logos developed for Bowls New Zealand
The first meeting was held on 1 May and was attended by 52 Councillors. At the time of the amalgamation there were a total of 68,210 members. 42,413 men and 25,797 women.
World Bowls followed suit and amalgamated later in 2000. The nineties and noughties were an exciting time to be a bowler as Clubs, Centres and Bowls New Zealand looked for ways to regain members they were losing. Coloured bowls were introduced in the mid 1990's and this coincided with relaxed dress rules.
Bowls became one of the fastest growing sports in schools, and initiatives such as having a youth New Zealand team saw more young people take up the sport than ever before. These initiatives have paid dividends on the international stage with players like Shannon McIlroy making their way through the system and achieving global success. Shannon tagged along with his mum at age two and by the age of 14 had made the under 18 New Zealand side.
Shannon won Gold in the 2016 World Singles Outdoor Championship, Gold in the 2018 World Singles Champion of Champions and has an array of titles from other international competitions.
In June of 2004 the last of the men's and women's Centres merged signaling the complete amalgamation of the sport in New Zealand.
By 2006 it was beginning to be understood that the number of 'affiliated' members wasn't a true reflection on the amount of people who play the game in some form or another. Initiatives from Bowls New Zealand such as the 'Mates in bowls' programme were passed down to clubs in order to take advantage of this.
This has been a largely successful strategy and many clubs now run a 'twilight' or 'business house' league which has resulted in the continual rise of casual participation.
Image: Twilight Bowls in its daytime timing and format is appealing to a different type of player.