When Pip Kiddey and her team of Alyson Roxby, Barbara Mackenzie and Glennis McMillan turned up at the Champion of Champions Fours in Hamilton recently, the other ‘champions’ could be forgiven for never having heard of them.
For two reasons.
Firstly, because until recently, Pip was an Aussie. Born and bred on a potato farm in North Queensland, an Air Force signals operator around Australia, a beauty therapist in Melbourne, a banker in Camberra, and a public servant in Canberra, she and fellow team-mate Barbara Mackenzie had only relatively recently emigrated across the Tasman.
And secondly, because the Four were representing the Hawea Bowling Club.
The who bowling club?
Hawea. As the other geographically-challenged contestants at the Champion of Champions discovered, Hawea is a small village just off the main highway between Wanaka and Haast. More Kiwis have been to Sydney or Brisbane than have ever been to Hawea!
It was also the first time that the Hawea Bowling Club had ever been at a National Champion of Champions tournament. Correction – the second time. Pip had also made the Champion of Champion Singles earlier this year at Naenae.
“We were stoked to be there,” exclaims Pip. “Jeanette McGowan also joined us as our support person, and drove us everywhere in our rental peoplemover. The five of us had a ball.” Understandably. How could two Kiwis, two Aussies and an Irelander on tour together have anything else but fun?!
“Everyone we met at the tournament was so friendly,” says Pip, “and the tournament was so well run. Although we didn’t qualify, we did have two wins. We would’ve been happy to go back to Hawea with nothing to crow about. After all, we were originally just a drawn Four. Barbara and Glennis had only had three or four years playing bowls. And Alyson and I only had nine years. It was awesome to get where we did. We were thrilled.”
The club was equally thrilled. “The whole club had got behind us and fundraised for our trip up to Hamilton. It’s a road trip to Queenstown, a direct flight to Auckland, then a road trip down to Hamilton. Everyone in the club was over the moon that Hawea had made the Champion of Champions at last.”
And presumably at least half the girls in the team were thrilled about the netball result. “Barbara and I are pretty much Kiwis now,” Pip laughs, “We won either way!”
Pip has been a member at Hawea for just one year. She and her fishing-mad (and fellow-bowling) husband, Dion, live just up the lake from Hawea at John’s Creek (Google it!).
They had previously lived in Queensbury and played at the Wanaka Bowling Club. They had also lived in Ashburton and played at the Ashburton Bowling Club. And when they lived in Canberra, Dion had played at the Tuggeranong Bowling Club. In the end they ended up in Hawea.
However, even in the relatively short time they’ve been at Hawea, things are changing.
“What’s happened in Queenstown, and is happening in Wanaka, is about to happen here in Hawea,” Pip observes. “New housing development is going on that is changing our lakeside settlement. People are wanting to live here … Wanaka is just 15 minutes away.”
Even Pip’s son from Australia have been over to visit. “He loved it,” she says. “I guess until you’ve been here, people must wonder!”
The upside of that development is that the club’s future is looking really bright. ”The club now has about 45 members and growing,” says Pip.
That may well mean that champions from the Hawea Bowling Club will become more frequent contestants at future National Champion of Champions Tournaments. Perhaps even Pip and her team if they can clean up again at the club and the Central Otago Centre.
“We stayed back and watched Taieri take the Women’s Fours at the Champion of Champions,” say Pip. “If a deep south club like them can do it, Hawea can too!”
We look forward to it.