The competition was set up to help bowlers from across the region gain experience and knowledge in the sport, especially as there will be no lawn bowls competition at this year’s Pacific games in Honiara.
Tagata Pasifika reports Brett O’Riley, who is the Oceania Regional Director for lawn bowls, says that those tournaments are key for Pacific and Māori bowlers. Discussion between him and NZ Lawn Bowls led to the establishment of this tournament.
“This tournament is the perfect idea for the growth of participation in Māori and Pacific communities,” O’Riley says.
“With covid disrupting a lot of match times for the Pacific teams, this tournament can act as a last final trial as they head onto later tournaments this year.”
National flags and coloured team strips were on show, as the best of the best went head to head vying for the top spot in both mens and womens divisions. A total of nine teams battled it out on the greens, juggling with some challenging weather conditions.
“The wind’s getting to me,” 15 year old bowler Liam Hill says.
“I don’t know how I’ve won two games today, but I’ll take it. It’s challenging, but I’ll try my best to win some medals for Tonga.”
Hill, who is based in New Zealand, chose to represent his Tongan heritage. Despite being one of the youngest players in the tournament, Hill began his journey with lawn bowls at the age of just 7.
His love for the sport began in his family, with his uncle and grandfather both playing for New Zealand. Although Liam opted to take a different route by representing Tonga, the love for the sport is evident in the Hill family spanning over three generations.
Also present at the tournament was Cook Islands representative Emily Jim. Like Hill, Emily also found her way to the sport through her family.
“Both my parents and my sister are bowlers. Me and my sister grew up back home in the islands playing with them,” Emily says.
“It’s a popular sport back home, and a lot of people joined up during the Covid lockdown.”
Emily represented the Cook Islands team in the women’s division longside her sister and mother. The trio took part in the womens fours taking home the bronze medal.
Another youngster making his mark in the sport is David Motu. The 15-year-old Kaitaia local has also been in the sport for as long as he can remember.
“I’ve been around the sport since I was like 2,” he says.
“I use to go and watch my aunty play. Then about five years ago I signed up and began representing New Zealand.”
Motu took part in the men’s fours representing the NZ Under 26 team. His team battled it out in the gold medal match against rivals Cook Islands, with New Zealand snatching the victory.
Usually associated with the older generation, athletes such as Liam, Motu and Emily showed the growth of lawn bowls among the younger people. It’s something that all three players hope to see growing in the future.
“To be honest, just have a go at it,” Emily says.
“It’s never too late to join. It’s a sport for all ages and it’s actually fun and once you get the hang of it you’ll enjoy it.
“For myself, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to other places because of it, and I hope other youths can experience that too.”