Hataitai Bowling Club

The story goes that Herbert Huggins heard of a prospective house buyer who had decided against buying a house in Hataitai because there was no bowling green in the neighbourhood. So Huggins met with the Hataitai Land Co, and the company offered a site at a very low price and favourable financial terms. Huggins and his friend James Kinniburgh called a meeting of prospective bowlers at Kilbirnie School in December 1909, at which it was decided to form a club. "It is proposed to make a green on a piece of land adjoining the Poneke Football Club's gymnasium, within 100 yards of the first stopping place on the southern side of the Kilbirnie Tramway Tunnel." A committee was formed (Mssrs Huggins, Kinniburgh, Mitchell, Munro and Gill) and a meeting for prospective members was held on Jan 25, 1910 at the Poneke Gymnasium. The first officers of the newly formed club were Mr Kinniburgh (president), Mr J L Arcus (secretary) and Mr Huggins (treasurer).

Bowling club in early days

Then and now

Bowling club today

In February work started on the green. The site had earlier been a raupo swamp or pond, and in places the workers had to dig down 14 feet to a firm base. Some peat dug out was sold. The team then covered the green with boulders, gravel and fourteen inches of soil. Grass was sown on 10 May 1910, in the same week that Earth passed through the tail of Halley's comet. This accounts for the comet on the club's official badge. The green was officially opened on 3 December 1910, and by the end of the first playing year the male-only membership had reached 84.

The clubhouse or pavilion designed by John Mitchell and built for £435 was opened on 17 November 1910. The upper floor was extended in 1924, and in 1955 another extension was added to the northern end of the building. A fire in November 1956 gutted the ground floor but the club was insured and was able to repair and renovate the damaged area. The next major alteration came in 1979 when the ground floor was extended, and a staircase, bar and new windows added. (Alcohol had been forbidden until 1921, but after that the bylaws gradually changed.)

Jerry Jeromson and others wrote a history of the club for its 75th anniversary, celebrated at Wellington Anniversary weekend 1985. The material in this article is taken from that booklet and other newspaper items.

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