Bowls Revival at Club Waitarere

October 18, 2021

Find below a great little article written by Club Waitarere and shared with us by Bowls Kapiti

What does it take to revive the fortunes of a small bowling club with limited resources and a falling membership? Many of the around 500 clubs in New Zealand wish they had the answer.

Waitarere Beach is growing seaside community of about 800 people some 15 kms west of Levin. Its growth can be attributed to retirement living, lifestyle blocks and commuting to Levin, and even to Wellington. Club Waitarere secretary Janet Oliver writes of the transformation taking place at the far northern end of the Kapiti Coast centre.

“While many smaller clubs around N Z are struggling, and in many cases closing, Club Waitarere is bucking the trend and showing a surge in growth and vitality. The club has become a thriving centre of social, community and bowling activity, largely related to changes made about three years ago.

In July 2016 Waitarere Bowling Club voted to re-brand as Club Waitarere. The goal driving this was to enhance the club’s role as ‘the Hub of the Community.’ The name change, and new logo, reflected a philosophy of community engagement, fun, friendliness and openness.

Community and Social Focus

With around 340 non-playing members Club Waitarere provides a venue for individuals and families to come together for fellowship and fun activities. Friday nights are highly popular with up to 100 people coming along every week for bistro meals, raffles and a membership draw. Recent quiz evenings running over 6 Wednesday nights drew in 60 - 70 per week. This is in addition to a host of major events such as  live bands / discos, casino evenings, ANZAC Day, Melbourne Cup day etc. The club is also popular as a venue for community group / club meetings, weddings, birthdays, end of year work functions and other special events.

Building the Profile of Bowls

A key goal of the past 3 years has been to present Bowls to the community as a fun, accessible and rewarding game to play. Twilight Bowls (our community based version of Business House Bowls), corner-to-corner (run weekly during daylight saving hours), an annual bowls / golf sports day, and roll ups open to non-players have all played a role in making the game more visible and attractive to the community. As a result the club had 7 new junior players join last season with a further 9 signed up to start this season.

In conjunction with this drive to attract new people to bowls the club also aimed to increase its profile within Bowls Kapiti Coast. Greater participation and success at centre tournaments and higher visibility at centre level have been part of this process. Over the past year the club welcomed 11 experienced players from other clubs that we believe will add more depth and greater strength.

Future Plans

Going into the new season with 46 playing members, up from 26 last season, is both exciting and challenging. Firstly, the club needs to ensure that all 17 junior players get good coaching and as many opportunities to play as possible. One new initiative to ensure a fun and supported introduction to bowls is to have a weekly Junior Development programme in place. Secondly, the club intends to increase its competitiveness at centre level starting with entry into both Pennants and Interclub for the first time in many years”.

Watch out - here we come!