For a holiday township of just 1,200+ permanent residents, Tairua can claim to have one of the best supported bowling clubs in New Zealand.
The Tairua Bowling Club has a whopping 230 social or full members. In other words, 20% of the local populace belong (that’s like imagining a club in Auckland with 300,000 members!). Even without all the jiggery-pokery with percentages, 230 members is still a great membership for a bowling club. Any bowling club.
Tairua Bowling Club received a great membership fillip at the start of the season last year when the membership of the Tairua Country Bowling Club voted to move from the Tairua Golf and Country Club down the road. “38 members came across,” says Club President, Ken Lowe. “It was fantastic to have them join.”
“It wasn’t a bowling club ‘amalgamation’ in the traditional sense,” says Ken, “because the Tairua Golf and Country Club still continues to exist … but without the lawn bowls.” Notwithstanding, the members were able to bring across much appreciated equipment – lawnmowers, rollers, scoreboards, etc. Just not a bank account!
“The first season has worked well,” says Ken. “There’s been a little bit of ‘them and us’, but nothing that hasn’t been able to be worked out. For instance, the ‘new’ members brought across their successful Wednesday mini-tournament. As a result, the ‘existing’ members changed their Tuesday roll-up to a Saturday, so that all members can enjoy both. The ‘new’ members also brought the annual business house bowls competition to the club. “
It’s that simple friendly cooperation that’s making Tairua the success that it is. “We’re not a flashy club,” says Ken, “I don’t think the club has ever produced any Blackjacks. I don’t think we’ve even won any national titles. We don’t pay anyone to do anything at the club – it’s all volunteers.”
But even though Tairua is ‘just’ a community club, they still have a cunning, albeit unplanned plan to keep members loving the club.
Firstly is the ‘Club Tairua Friday Night Dinner’– where local restaurant ‘The Pepe’ comes in and cooks an a la carte dinner for 60 or 70 people every week over the season. “We had 90 here on Good Friday,” says Ken.
The menu is modestly priced – like the RSLs and surf clubs meals of yesteryear on the Gold Coast: Fish ‘n chips and salad $12; Ham steak, fries and salad $14; battered scallies, fries and salad $15; and so on. Kids’ meals are just $6 to $8.
Secondly, are the many community groups in Tairua who have also started to make the bowling club their home. On Mondays, the bridge club enjoys the facilities. Tuesday it’s bingo. “And every second Tuesday, it’s the music club,” adds Ken – himself a former muso and drummer for dance band the ‘Starlighters’
But the latest plan may be the most brilliant yet. “We’re just awaiting consent from the council to put up a men’s shed,” explains Ken. “When it’s up and running, their first project is to build extra shelters for the two greens, as well as repairing seats and fences around the greens.” Sounds very Tom Sawyeresque.
Somewhere on the horizon there is also the possibility of changing one of the greens from grass to synthetic to allow the club to play all year round. “The cost we’ve been quoted is $280, 000,” says Ken. “Even though it’s a big number, we’ve already applied for a grant to get the ball rolling.”
That may mean the next time you’re winter holidaying on the Coromandel, the Tairua Bowling Club will be open for business. Drop by. They’d love to see you!