Photo: Opening Day (image from the file)
Just one year short of celebrating 75 years of existence, the Raumati South Bowls Club has closed its doors.
Like many sporting clubs throughout New Zealand, falling membership and the constant cost of building and ground maintenance has led to the difficult and sad decision.
Locking the front door for the final time a pensive club president, Bob Darragh, said “It’s been a very difficult decision. This club has always been strong, competitive and very social but, while it’s sad, we all recognise that the time is right to close”.
The club, which has been situated on Glen Road in Raumati South, was officially opened in October of 1945. The previous year eighty bowls enthusiasts had contributed 10 pounds each- the equivalent of about $900 each today- to purchase the land. An old Army hut was hauled in and converted to become the first club house.
Volunteer members developed the green and the club house and everything was almost perfect for the opening day. The one problem was a shortage of jacks. None had been imported for years and there was no local supplier. Beg, steal or borrow was the order of the day!
By the early 1950s membership had swelled to over 100 so a new double-storey pavilion was built and a second green installed. In 1992 one of the greens was converted to astrograss.
Possibly the club’s most successful season coincided with the celebrations of the 50th anniversary. Raumati South players won all four men’s Kapiti Centre titles in that 1994-95 season. It was a cause for great celebration. Two players, Reg Goston and Paul Bartosh, were in the three title-winning teams, while the singles champion was Gary Walton. Goston has continued to be a most influential Raumati South member, both on the green and within the club.
There were other centre titles that season too. Joan Leach skipped both the women’s champion of champion triples team and the Mixed Fours combination.
The Kapiti Centre successes of 1994-95 were:
Singles: Gary Walton
Pairs: Reg Goston and Paul Bartosh
Triples: Bernie Setter, Reg Goston, Paul Bartosh
Fours: Don Trevethick, Peter Dickson, Reg Goston, Paul Bartosh
Women’s Triples: Shannie Findlay, Judy Steinbauer, Joan Leach
Mixed Fours: Bill Potts, Tom Leach, Yvonne Burchmore, Joan Leach
Some of the club’s most successful women players have been Joan Leach, Daphne Le Breton and Audrey Stevenson, who has become the Kapiti Centre’s most decorated player and is playing for Paraparaumu Beach these days.
Joan Leach had a massive impact on the sport, not only in Kapiti, but also nationally. She was the national Director of Coaching and a selector for Women’s Bowls for a number of years, as well as coaching and managing the NZ Women’s bowls teams at Australian and Canadian Championships and World, Pacific and Commonwealth Games.
Another notable member was Keith Elliott, a winner of the Victoria Cross. He was the club President from 1985-89 and presented a trophy which has been played for every year since. The club’s closure does not mean the end of the ‘VC Cup” tournament however. It will be continued at the Kapiti BC where the majority of Raumati South players have now become members.
Raumati has changed dramatically since the Raumati South Bowls Club opened and its closure is just another chapter in the changing landscape of the area. Change is not always easy to accept and as one of the club’s oldest members, Ray Laws, quipped “ It’s taking some time to get out of the habit of steering the car to Glen Road and the old club”.
The club will soon be placed on the market for sale.