Bowls New Zealand’s second president, Malcolm Kidd, passes

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Malcolm Kidd

It was a shock to the New Zealand lawn bowling fraternity to learn that Malcolm Kidd passed away quietly in his sleep last Friday morning, aged 86.  Our sincere condolences go out to Malcolm’s wife Annette, and his family and friends.

Malcolm had contributed so much to bowls … as a player, an umpire, a coach, an administrator, an organiser and a leader … He steered Bowls New Zealand through the amalgamation process finalised in 1996.  He became Bowls New Zealand’s second President.  And much more.

In fact, we were just about to publish a story about Malcolm after chatting with him over the past few weeks.  That story is as follows ….

One of Malcolm Kidd’s great secrets is that he is a Taranaki boy and an aspiring accountant to boot.

Somewhat accidentally, he found himself in Matamata (and discontinuing his accounting studies at Hawera Technical High School) after his dad moved the family from Taranaki and press-ganged the young Malcolm in to helping him share milk a big dairy herd.

And It was by chance that Malcolm got in to bowls.  In 1972 American Nelson Bunker Hunt offered the family an opportunity to lease their Matamata dairy farm to be absorbed into the neighbouring Waikato Horse Stud. That meant that Malcolm and his then wife Thelma finally had time to play bowls.

“I joined the Matamata Men’s Bowling Club,” recalls Malcolm, “and Thelma joined the Matamata Women’s. Thelma took to bowls like a duck taking to water.”

In fact, Thelma became a legend in the game, winning the National Pairs & Fours in 1985, the National Fours again in 1988, and National Pairs again in 1992.  They were years when the Matamata Women’s Club walked tall. When Malcolm retired in 1992, he and Thelma were expecting to play bowls in between eating, sleeping and breathing, but Thelma was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and passed away in 1995.

Malcolm recalls her philosophical grace. “If this is the hand you’re dealt, then make the most of it.” It is a philosophy that guides Malcolm today as he too finds himself dealing with Motor Neurone Disease.

Malcolm was also guided by the words of his mother Edie Kidd (also a legend in Outdoor Bowls and Gold Star holder) who reminded him when he was a sporting youngster that while it was great to play sport, there was always a lot of work going on behind the scenes to allow that sport to be played. “She was absolutely right,” says Malcolm “So I decided to also put effort in behind the scenes to help with administration in the sports I played.”  Over the years these included not only outdoor bowls, but Indoor bowls, hockey & softball.

Although Malcolm was a pretty tidy outdoor & indoor bowler in his own right (including winning 15 Waikato Centre titles, 4 Bay of Plenty Centre titles, and the NZ Super 8’s in outdoor bowls, and 5 Welch Trophies and the National Triples in indoor bowls) it was bowls organisation and administration where he was keen to make his mark.

One of his biggest achievements was as a new Waikato Councillor in 1990. “I was a cocky young councillor at my first national meeting,” laughs Malcolm, “and argued that the Nationals should be able to be held outside the 4 main centres (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin).  After much discussion they voted in favour of it, and since then the Nationals have been held in New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Hamilton and Tauranga.”

But it was the work that Malcolm did around amalgamation of the men’s and women’s games that he became most renowned for. 

A lot had to be done before amalgamation could even be contemplated. “I recall chairing a committee to introduce a common law book for bowls (men’s and women’s bowls had different laws at the time). We were getting nowhere debating the issue so I adjourned the meeting for lunch and told everyone to make sure they had a whiskey or wine! It seemed to work.  We left that day with one law book!”

Malcolm was at the forefront of the roadshow that went up and down the country selling the idea of amalgamation. “There was strong opinion on both sides of the argument,” says Malcolm. “I heard it all.” 

“So many times, I heard that all the men do is get their wives to bake cakes for a cake stall, then spend the money! All the women do is bake cakes for a cake stall, and save the money! They were different times. While the amalgamation of the two organisations now looks like a no-brainer, there was concern that men would dominate the relationship and women would lose their freedom and autonomy.”

Eventually consensus was reached and in 1996 the 26 men’s centres and 25 women’s centres (1 was opposed) voted for amalgamation. “It was left up to the individual clubs as to whether they amalgamated or not … I think most have now, there may be one or two who haven’t.”

One of the changes to the new Bowls New Zealand constitution was to appoint an alternating female/male President. “Joan Jagger and I were the women’s and men’s VP’s,” says Malcolm, “so Joan became the first President of Bowls New Zealand in 1996, and I followed her as President in 1998.”

Considering the discussions there have been over the past few years about the status of women in various sports, bowls has been a pioneer of gender equality. Women’s and Men’s tournaments are of equal status. Bowls has been playing ‘mixed’ tournaments for over 50 years. Yet a sport like netball still retains separation in 2019.

Malcolm also encouraged further diversity in bowls.

During his time as President, he liaised with Blind Bowls New Zealand to win the right to hold the World Blind Bowls Championship in New Zealand.  They were successful, and the Governor General opened the World Championship to worldwide participation in March 1997 at the new bowling complex in Hamilton.  Malcolm was awarded a gold medallion from the people of Hamilton city for his efforts.

“We also brought Aotearoa Bowls under the umbrella of Bowls New Zealand,” says Malcolm.

As if that wasn’t enough, Malcolm obtained his Umpires Badge (No. 3003) which eventually lead to his being able to umpire at international events, including being Chief Umpire for the Trans-Tasmans in Rotorua in 2004, and the Asia Pacific and World Bowls events in Christchurch in 2007 and 2008.

Malcolm Kidd can certainly say he’s been-there-done-that in the world of bowls!

Thanks for everything, Malcolm.

Malcolm’s funeral will be at –

St John’s Church, Bureta, Tauranga at 1:00pm on Thursday 11th April 2019.

A funeral notice will appear in the New Zealand Herald and Waikato Times on Monday 8th April 2019.