Paritutu Men and Women claim bronze at NZ event

Monday, Apr 08 2024

Grant Hassall

Two bold efforts netted two bronze medals for Paritutu in the New Zealand interclub bowls finals in Auckland on Sunday.

Both the men’s and women’s sides had enjoyed successful competitions on Friday and Saturday, securing positions in the semifinals on Sunday morning.

But that was where it ended, with the men falling 2-1 to Gore and the women losing 3-0 to Invercargill.

The two Southland clubs were in turn beaten by Auckland, in the men’s final, and Carlton Cornwall, in the women’s decider.

Singles player Dean Elgar went through with five-straight wins in section play, before dropping his two post section games, the semifinal 21-13 to Sheldon Bagrie-Howley. Adam Collins and Darren Goodin won three in section play and the quarterfinal, but fell 18-15 to Craig Tinker and Craig Merrilees in the last four.

The Paritutu four of John Zittersteijn, Kurt Smith, Camron Horo and Aidan Zittersteijn, after four victories in section play, won both knockout games to complete an excellent tournament.

In the women’s, Paritutu won two of its four head-to-head matches in qualifying, advancing to the knockout stage after winning six of the 12 individual games. Briar Atkinson took three wins from four in the singles, Amanda Crehan and Bridget Fletcher won twice in the pairs and the four of Alesha Quay, Tina Atkinson-Watt, Barbara Harvey and Gale Fache had one win.

Atkinson led the charge in a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Stoke, winning the singles 21-12. After the pairs had been trounced 25-4, the Paritutu four secured the tie with a 14-10 victory. Paritutu had a sniff in all three games in the semis but lost the lot.

Meanwhile, there was a terrific result in the Bowls3five regional playoff at Hawera Park on Sunday for the New Plymouth trio of Sharleen Healey, Michael Healey and Laurence Hori.

The team met Aramoho’s Reen Belliss, Keith Slight and Peter Belliss, the Whanganui winners. New Plymouth took the first set 5-4 and Aramoho the second 3-2, meaning it all came down to a one-end tiebreaker. New Plymouth took two shots on the deciding end to secure its position in the New Zealand finals which will be held in Wellington on May 3-5.

On the local scene, both the Fitzroy/Stratford-Avon under-10s 2-4-2 pairs and the Okato men’s fours attracted maximum fields of 32 sides each for the two-day tournaments.

Overall honours in the under-10s event went to Fitzroy’s Ian Dawson and Evan Jones while the popular winners of the Okato event were Emmett Fleming, Jonty Linn, Steve Walker and Jordan Linn (West End).

Courtesy of https://sportsnewstaranaki.co.nz/news-article?id=1702

Paritutu Centennial Celebrations

Bowls: Paritutu to compete in interclub finals

Grant Hassall

Paritutu will look to top off their centennial celebrations when the club competes in the New Zealand interclub finals in Auckland.

The event, for both men and women, brings the provincial winners to compete for the big prize, which has twice been won by Paritutu women and once by Paritutu men. It starts on Friday.

The women’s side will fancy its chances of advancing through its section. A top two finish is required and with only five in its pool, Paritutu look a strong prospect. They will compete against co-favourites Carlton Cornwall, along with Havelock North, Blenheim and Waimate.

Briar Atkinson plays the pairs, with Amanda Crehan and Bridget Fletcher the pair. The four is Alesha Quay, Tina Atkinson-Watt, Barbara Harvey and skip Gale Fache, with Jackie Moeahu the eighth player.

The chances of the men advancing appear less likely although there is certainly enough talent to do so. They are in what appears to be an even group with all of the teams comprising a number of representative players.

Paritutu will meet Ngongotaha, Taieri, Timaru’s West End, Naenae and Thames Coast.

Dean Elgar plays the singles, with Adam Collins leading in the pairs for Darren Goodin. Aidan Zittersteijn skips the four with his father John leading. Kurt Smith and Camron Horo complete a competitive unit.

Meanwhile, Paritutu’s centenary celebrations over Easter weekend were well received by all of those in attendance, including the dinner on Saturday night where Grant Nisbett and John McBeth kept the guests well entertained.

The men’s and women’s one-day events on Saturday, while somewhat disappointing in numbers, produced some exciting results.

The women’s section was won by four of Paritutu’s 14 female gold star holders – Marlene Barrowman, Heather Johns, Barbara Batley and skip Cathy Andrews.

Second went to Fache, from Val Keightley and Anne Duggan.

There was a boilover in the men’s event, where overall honours went to a Paritutu team of James Carter, Eddie Betts, Trevor Knowsley and Paul Howell.

Howell continued his excellent touch, following his recent open triples triumph, but it was a big moment for the other three – and a just reward.

Retired lawyer Knowsley is a midweek selector, Betts authored Paritutu’s centennial publication, while the loveable Carter, nigh on 90 years, has for many years been the epitome of participation.

Noel Probyn, Maurice Symes and Elgar shared the minor placings on Howell’s green.

The other men’s green was won by Steve Muller, from Brian Baldwin – back from the Gold Coast with Gary Mounsey for the event – Bowls NZ president Piripi Huwyler and Kevin Crawford.

Fache took out the main prize in Sunday’s mixed drawn fours, combining with Heather White, Allan Sanger and Trevor Keightley.

The other prizes went to teams skipped by Rodger Hassall, John Honeyfield, Andrews, Baldwin and Gloria Shaw.

Briar Atkinson wins National Under 21’s Title

by Grant Hassall

Briar Atkinson is now officially rated the best under-21 bowler in the country.

The Paritutu player won the national age-grade title, in mixed company, at the Naenae greens in Hutt Valley on Sunday.

It follows a spectacular last 12 months, with many distinctions including the NZ women’s champion-of-champions singles in July.

But just as the case was in her Taranaki Open singles triumph earlier in the month, Atkinson had to grind out victories. It showed a clear ability, again, to win tight, important matches – an excellent attribute for any champion sportsperson.

In the final, Atkinson defeated Canterbury’s Braeden Casware 21-17. After an even opening, Casware edged in front 13-11 and then 17-15. Atkinson dominated the scoring after that, finishing with two braces and two singles to claim the title. It was Casware’s first loss of the weekend, having won his prior six matches.

Atkinson beat Wellington’s Jordan Keene 21-19 in the semifinals and Auckland’s Lee Warburton 21-17 in the prior round.

Rahotu’s Nathan Goodin claimed a bronze medal. He was edged out 21-20 by Casware in the semifinals.

Earlier, in section play, Goodin qualified second from his pool, after four wins from five games. Atkinson, who was also in the same section, lost to both Keene and Goodin, before turning the tables in post section.

Meanwhile the richest bowls event in the province was won by a Fitzroy quartet at the weekend.

The annual Waitoa Beer-sponsored Tower 10,000 proved popular once more with a capacity 32 teams taking part.

The winning team was Lesley Te Awa, Maree Gadsby, Ron Gadsby and Grant Pease. West End’s Garry Murfitt was second with Tower’s Grant Anderson third.

It was Pease’s second big win in Hawera during the week. On Wednesday, at Hawera Park, a composite side of Pease, John Gray, Paul Matheson and Bryce Robins, representing the Coronation Hotel in Eltham, won the three-day north island Licence Victualers Association tournament.

Courtesy of Sports News Taranaki: https://sportsnewstaranaki.co.nz/news-article?id=1685

Paritutu Seek Registrations for Centennial Celebrations

Will Johnston

One of the region’s largest bowling clubs is inviting registrations to commemorate its 100th jubilee.

New Plymouth’s Paritutu Bowling Club will mark this significant milestone over Easter Weekend this year. The schedule includes a mixture of social and bowling events across the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

A centenary dinner is scheduled for Saturday night, featuring broadcasters and guest speakers John McBeth and Grant Nisbett. Nisbett is a familiar face at the Taranaki Open, while McBeth has commentated at numerous bowling events, including World Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Centenary committee member Trevor Keightley said registration can be completed in various ways.

“Individuals can pick up a registration form at the club, or find all the details on our website,” he said.

Much has evolved at the Calvert Road site since its inception in 1924. Discussions about drink prices dominated committee meetings in earlier years. In 1968, cigarettes and soft drinks were priced at 30 cents and five cents, respectively. Two years later, soft drinks increased to 10 cents, with a three-cent refund on bottles.

Further deliberations occurred in 1973 and 1977, with the price of a cup of tea set at 15 cents during weekdays and 20 cents at other times.

One of the most noticeable transformations was the expansion of the clubrooms and the development of the indoor stadium, completed in April 1997. This addition has proven invaluable for the club and its governing body, Bowls Taranaki, often serving as a venue for major events impacted by wet weather.

The club stands as a premier venue for the men’s and women’s Taranaki Open, and it’s one of many Taranaki clubs set to host the upcoming Dominion Fours event organized by Bowls New Zealand.

Keightley remarked that hosting such significant tournaments outside major centers is rare, but the club has demonstrated its ability to manage large events.

 “The Nationals will be no different from the Open.”

In another significant move for the club, the men’s and ladies’ clubs merged in the 2008/09 season.

Paritutu has enjoyed its share of success over the years, including a recent victory in January when its quartet of Don Christensen, Rodger Hassall, Dean Elgar, and skip Darren Goodin claimed the title at the 119th Taranaki men’s Open fours, fittingly held at their home club.

Pihama and Manaia bowling clubs are also set to celebrate their 125th jubilees this year.

Pihama will host a tournament on Saturday, May 4, while Manaia will hold a men’s fours event on Taranaki Anniversary weekend, with the ladies’ event on Saturday, April 15.

Keightley emphasised the importance of collaborating with other clubs to prevent scheduling conflicts during their respective celebrations.

Courtesy of Sports News Taranaki: https://sportsnewstaranaki.co.nz/news-article?id=1655

Paritutu’s Walsh a master of the art of greenkeeping

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Mike Walsh is the greenkeeper at Paritutu Bowling Club which will be the headquarters for the New Zealand championships for fours and mixed pairs from Thursday.
LISA BURD/STUFF

Every morning 80-year-old Mike Walsh hops on his bike and cycles 100 metres down the road to his second home, Paritutu Bowling Club.

Walsh is the New Plymouth-based club’s greenkeeper, a role he takes seriously, arriving at 6.30am each day.

“I watch all the games, I watch the people, I don’t like people ripping our green up with their shoes.

“I’ve made people change their shoes.”

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Keeping the greens in tip-top shape is a job Mike Walsh takes seriously.
LISA BURD/STUFF

It’s been a busy month for Walsh as the club hosted the Taranaki Open Fours tournament in January and will be home to the National Fours and Mixed Pairs tournament starting Thursday.

It takes 2000 steps to mow the green and Walsh aims to have it at a speed of 17 seconds, which means it takes the ball 17 seconds to get from one side to the other.

Walsh, who won the Taranaki Open tournament with his team in 1993, waters the greens every night for 3 minutes, then the sprinklers are set for 12 minutes at 1am as that’s the coldest time of the night, and he fertilises them every three weeks.

“People see the green but don’t see the time that goes into it.”

The greens are normally mown three times a week, but come tournament time, they’re done every day.

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Some days Mike Walsh is on the job until 10pm.
LISA BURD/STUFF

“We take a lot of pride in our greens and I’ve got 180 members to answer to.”

Walsh, who has no lawn of his own at home, said Paritutu Bowling Club is considered one of the best greens in the country.

His first stint at the club was in the 1990s. He then came back upon returning from Australia twelve years ago.

“The greens were shocking. The chap that was doing them asked for a hand and I said ‘as long as you do it my way’.”

Walsh has stepped back somewhat this year after having open heart surgery, but he still oversees everything the other keepers do, calling himself the greens superintendent.

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LISA BURD/STUFF

Mike Walsh is a bowler himself and his team won the Taranaki Open tournament in 1993.
The time Walsh spends maintaining the green sees him there until 10pm some days.

When asked if he had a partner who may object to this kind of dedication away from home, Walsh proudly declared he’d been married for 61 years.

“She understands my commitment down here, she’s a bowler herself,” he said.

“The other greens she goes to aren’t up to the same standard, but not many are up to this standard.”

Article courtesy of www.stuff.co.nz – https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/350187241/paritutus-walsh-master-art-greenkeeping by Stephanie Ockhuysen, February 22, 2024

Paritutu Four win Midlands Funds Management Taranaki Men’s Open Fours

Monday, Jan 22 2024

Bowls: Paritutu team takes out Open fours

Grant Hassall

The Paritutu quartet of Don Christensen, Rodger Hassall, Dean Elgar and skip Darren Goodin have been crowned the winners of the 119th Midlands Funds Management Taranaki men’s Open fours.

They defeated the Stokes Valley side of John Brien, Corey Brookes, Robbie Bird and skip Caleb Hope 22-16 in what was a tense final at Paritutu yesterday afternoon.

The tenseness was evident, sometimes in the play, and certainly through the score.

While Goodin did lead 6-2 after five ends, it was 7-all after 10 heads. Hope nosed in front 11-8.

Goodin took six points over the next five ends, although one point was a little fortunate as Hope, holding two shots, slid off a wide bowl and narrowly moved the jack.

The momentum was with Paritutu, leading 14-11, and with Christensen and Hassall putting more bowls around the head.

The 19th end was a beauty. Great play from the Stokes Valley side saw them holding three shots. Elgar superbly drove off all three bowls. Goodin held four. Bird drew third shot. But Goodin added in two more to increase the count to four.

However, Hope crucially drew the shot. He repeated the dose on the next end when three down. There was only one point in the match now.

The tension levels rose.

Goodin took a single on the 21st and then, when two down, played a good bowl to get shot on the 22nd. But Hope cleverly clipped it off to score a three and reclaim the lead 16-15.

However, the Stokes Valley side failed to get close on the next two ends, two threes to Paritutu giving them a five-shot lead at the commencement of the last end.

The last head, lacking in quality, had plenty of interest, with Hope holding two and a measure on the change-over.

Hope didn’t like his chances on the measure and elected to try and push off Christensen’s bowl. Goodin then sewed it up by drawing the shot. Yes, he got a slide in the process, but he would still have drawn the second shot if he had had a free run to the jack. That left Hope with the tough task of trying to kill the head, but Paritutu still had one shot and the championship.

The victory was Elgar’s first Open title in a glittering career, while it was a second win in the event for Christensen, Hassall and Goodin.

The Paritutu quartet of Don Christensen, Rodger Hassall, Dean Elgar and skip Darren Goodin have been crowned the winners of the 119th Midlands Funds Management Taranaki men’s Open fours.

They defeated the Stokes Valley side of John Brien, Corey Brookes, Robbie Bird and skip Caleb Hope 22-16 in what was a tense final at Paritutu yesterday afternoon.

The tenseness was evident, sometimes in the play, and certainly through the score.

While Goodin did lead 6-2 after five ends, it was 7-all after 10 heads. Hope nosed in front 11-8.

Goodin took six points over the next five ends, although one point was a little fortunate as Hope, holding two shots, slid off a wide bowl and narrowly moved the jack.

The momentum was with Paritutu, leading 14-11, and with Christensen and Hassall putting more bowls around the head.

The  19th end was a beauty. Great play from the Stokes Valley side saw them holding three shots. Elgar superbly drove off all three bowls. Goodin held four. Bird drew third shot. But Goodin added in two more to increase the count to four.

However, Hope crucially drew the shot. He repeated the dose on the next end when three down. There was only one point in the match now.

The tension levels rose.

Goodin took a single on the 21st and then, when two down, played a good bowl to get shot on the 22nd. But Hope cleverly clipped it off to score a three and reclaim the lead 16-15.

However, the Stokes Valley side failed to get close on the next two ends, two threes to Paritutu giving them a five-shot lead at the commencement of the last end.

The last head, lacking in quality, had plenty of interest, with Hope holding two and a measure on the change-over.

Hope didn’t like his chances on the measure and elected to try and push off Christensen’s bowl. Goodin then sewed it up by drawing the shot. Yes, he got a slide in the process, but he would still have drawn the second shot if he had had a free run to the jack. That left Hope with the tough task of trying to kill the head, but Paritutu still had one shot and the championship.

The victory was Elgar’s first Open title in a glittering career, while it was a second win in the event for Christensen, Hassall and Goodin.

PAIRS WIN TO AUCKLANDERS: Brendon Walton, left, and Adam Blucher, representing the Te Atatu Peninsular club, held off a stern late challenge from Bannockburn’s Alan Rickard and Hugh Andrews to take out the New Plymouth Club-sponsored pairs event 19-17 at Paritutu yesterday.

Blucher and Walton led 16-6 after 14 ends and appeared in control.

But Andrews, the skip, and Rickard pulled back a five and a three to tighten the game up. The deficit was only one playing the last end. Rickard held the shot but Blucher trailed the jack to sew up the game.

In the semifinals, Blucher and Walton again withstood a late comeback to beat Garth Lyne and Cary Pinker (Wanganui East) 15-13. Rickard and Andrews  beat the Darfield pair of Bob Shorter and Ash Paul 22-8 in the other semi.

Paritutu Do The Double

Paritutu continues to celebrate its centenary year in style.

On Sunday, Paritutu claimed the Vospers-sponsored division one women’s interclub title at Manaia and the Summerset-sponsored men’s division one men’s interclub title indoors at Paritutu. Also, at Manaia, Tower claimed the women’s second division title.

Paritutu needed to win just one game in the final round of the women’s interclub. But they were pushed all the way by Opunake, with Briar Atkinson claiming a four on the last end to beat Julie Hamahama 21-16, while Amanda Crehan and Bridget Fletcher came from behind to take the pairs from Val Langton and Eileen Rothwell 19-15. Pauline Davy’s four took down Gale Fache 15-7, but Paritutu, with 28 points, safely got home from Fitzroy (24) – who had a bye in the final round – and Opunake (18). The other members of the Paritutu squad were Alesha Quay, Tina Atkinson-Watt, Kileigh Barber and Barbara Harvey.

On the adjacent rinks at Manaia, Tower took out the second division title with a 2-1 victory over Paritutu. The winning Tower side comprised Faye Hopkins, Frances Busby, Frances Parkes, Lyn Scott, Jane Augustine, Alison Sayer, AJ Rowlands and Geneva Barnard.

In the men’s interclub, which was forced inside with the wet weather, Paritutu got off to a slow start winning just one game in the opening round. But they went clear after that to finish on 14 points, heading off West End (9), Okato (7) and Tower (6).

Aidan Zittersteijn’s four of his father John, Kurt Smith and Camron Horo excelled with three wins, while Dean Elgar in the singles and the pair of Adam Collins and Darren Goodin both recorded two wins.

Briar Atkinson named Taranaki Junior Sportswoman of the Year

Paritutu’s Briar Atkinson has been named as the Taranaki Junior Sportswoman of the Year.

At a gala dinner for the annual Sportsperson of the Year awards held at the Devon Hotel on Friday evening, Atkinson overcame an impressive field to become the first bowler to take out the title.

Headlining an impressive 2023 for Atkinson was her victory in the New Zealand champion-of-champions singles in Hastings in July.

That victory followed Atkinson representing the New Zealand Under-26 side at the Oceania Challenge earlier in the year. There, she skipped the women’s pair to a gold medal.

Atkinson also claimed three Taranaki titles during the season – including the open and champion-of-champions singles double – on the way to collecting her gold star.

She was unable to attend the awards function as she is currently competing in the Hong Kong Classic.

However, on a video recording played during the night, Atkinson said that she was thrilled with the award, which was accepted by her mother, Tina Atkinson-Watt, in person.

Atkinson made the last 16 of the women’s singles in Hong Kong and, with Selina Goddard, is currently well-placed to qualify in the pairs.

Atkinson’s success continued a rich history for bowls at the Sportsperson of the Year awards, which were first established by Taranaki Newspapers in 1965, with Ross “Pascoe” Brown the inaugural winner.

Bowls got its first taste of success when Dave Baldwin won the title. Over the years, various additional awards have been added, such as the team title in 1991. Paritutu’s interclub side became the first winners, one of five times bowls has taken that particular award.

Bowls success at the Taranaki Sportsperson of the Year awards

Overall winner:

1974 Dave Baldwin (Commonwealth Games gold medal, Dominion fours winner)

1990 Taranaki men’s intercentre team – Brian Baldwin, Geoff Hawken, Neville Hill, Chas Candy, John Murtagh, John Lambert and Dave Baldwin (New Zealand intercentre winners)

1991 Brian Baldwin (New Zealand Superbowls and interclub winner)

1995 Brian Baldwin (Dominion singles winner)

Sportsman of the Year:

1995 Brian Baldwin (Dominion singles winner)

Sportswoman of the Year:

2005 Cathy Fleming (Dominion singles finalist, NZ interclub winner)

2013 Val McEldowney (Dominion singles winner)

Team of the Year:

1991 Paritutu men’s seven – Brian Baldwin, Bryan Sanger, John Murtagh, Alan Malloy, Gary Mounsey, John Lambert and Dave Baldwin (New Zealand interclub winners)

2003 Lepperton women’s fours – Mary Maxwell, Elaine Miller, June Ward and Ellie Goble (New Zealand women’s club fours)

2005 Paritutu women’s seven – Cathy Fleming, Heather Johns, Raewyn McEldowney, Val Keightley, Dulcie Bishop, Valda Rowan and Margaret Baldwin (New Zealand interclub winners)

2006 Alton men’s fours – Mark Anderson, John Roberts, Bruce Phillips and Grant Anderson (New Zealand men’s club fours)

2015 Taranaki men’s intercentre team – Dean Elgar, Cameron Nairne, Scott Roberts, Dennis Osborne, John Garrud, Steve Walker and Craig Johns (New Zealand intercentre winners)

Junior Sportsman of the Year:

2018 Aidan Zittersteijn (Commonwealth Games bronze medal)

Junior Sportswoman of the Year:

2023 Briar Atkinson (New Zealand club singles winner, New Zealand Under 26)

Volunteer of the Year:

1995 Gloria Bryant

Impact award:

2022 John Murtagh

Special award:

1999 Hugh Moss QSM

2003 Alan Boulton

Hall of Fame:

2012 Dave Baldwin

Paritutu win Metcalfe Real Estate Men’s Centre Fours

Paritutu’s Aidan Zittersteijn has already had plenty of bowls successes in his 24 years of life.

Those prior moments of triumphs, which include a Commonwealth Games bronze medal, have clearly given him the confidence to handle the knife-edge pressure of championship play.

That was proven when he produced three big bowls – “bombs” to the younger generation – when he skipped his team to a nail-biting 13-12 victory in the Metcalfe Real Estate-sponsored men’s centre fours final at Hawera Park on Saturday.

Zittersteijn’s side of Kaylin Huwyler, Nathan Goodin and Camron Horo had a real ding-dong clash in the decider with West End’s Jordan Linn, Dave Wilson, Steve Walker and Craig De Faria.

De Faria’s side edged ahead 10-6 after 12 of the 18 ends and then, two ends later, held the lead 11-8.

But a three, followed by a single to Zittersteijn gave Paritutu a one-shot advantage at the commencement of the penultimate head.

West End held two there before Zittersteijn drew the shot with his last delivery to create a two-point lead playing the final end.

Linn and Wilson promptly drew three good shots and when Horo drove and missed with his second bowl, it appeared Paritutu had hit the panic button.

But Zittersteijn changed tactics and drew a close second shot. De Faria, in reply, pushed off Zittersteijn’s bowl and while he dislodged one of his own counters in the process, held a minimum of two shots.

However, Zittersteijn again drew another close second shot and De Faria’s last runner narrowly missed on the inside of the bowl.

It was a meritorious win for the Paritutu side, especially for Huwyler, Goodin and Zittersteijn, it being their third successive win in the event. For Goodin, aged 20, it was even more important, with his gold star being presented for five Taranaki titles. He as also won the last two champion-of-champions fours.

Meanwhile, in the Vospers-sponsored women’s interclub on Saturday, morning rain prevented any play until lunchtime at Stratford-Avon.

Paritutu’s perfect record disappeared against Fitzroy, losing the singles and the fours. But Fitzroy’s good work was in turn undone in the following round, going down 2-1 to Waitara.

Fitzroy, Paritutu and Opunake lead the way with seven wins from four rounds, although the latter two have both had their bye.

In the second division, Tower and Paritutu emerged as section winners and will meet at Paritutu on November 19.

In the Summerset-sponsored men’s interclub on Sunday, Okato, with a number of dual members in tow, upset West End 3-0 to hold 15 points in the black section. Inglewood (11) and West End (10) remain in the hunt for a top-two finish. Paritutu has 16 points in the amber section, ahead of Tower (13) and New Plymouth (10).

Bowls New Zealand Emerging Player of the Year – Briar Atkinson


The province of Taranaki can take credit for sharing many of its sons and daughters throughout New Zealand stage.  And indeed, throughout the world.

People like Peter Snell, Richard Faull, Peter Buck and Toss Woollaston were all born and bred in the ‘Naki.  As was an overabundance of rugby talent: Carl Hayman, Kieran Crowley, Graham Mourie, and of course the seemingly never-ending supply of Barretts feeding the All Blacks.

It’s the same in our bowls community.  Many great bowlers have emerged from Taranaki: Brian Baldwin; John Murtagh; Val McEldowney; and Pearl Dymond to name but a very, very few.

And a new name has emerged who looks set to add to that richness of bowling talent from Taranaki: Briar Atkinson.  And so refreshing has her emergence been, that she has been named Bowls New Zealand’s Emerging Player of the Year in 2023.

At 19 years old, Briar already has a centre Gold Star.  She’s probably the youngest Gold Star holder ever in the Taranaki Centre.  Perhaps the youngest in any centre in New Zealand ever.

Playing out of the Paritutu Bowling Club in New Plymouth, Briar has also put her hand up on the national scene this last season.

In the Champion of Champion Singles in Hastings in July, beating Nicole Toomey, a dual bronze medallist from last year’s Commonwealth Games, 21-13 in the final.  She was just the third Taranaki woman to win the women’s title (Grace Gillespie 1961, Pearl Dymond 1969).

In the Digicel Oceania Challenge at Blockhouse Bay in Auckland earlier this year, Briar and teammate Caitlin Thomson played in the New Zealand Under 26 team and won the Pairs.  Briar also represented the Under 26’s in the Singles, but came up against a tougher draw which saw her out of the medals.

It’s a real treat for the bowls community to enjoy the emergence of such a brilliant young woman.

“She’s a young woman with huge talent,” says Bowls New Zealand’s Head Coach, Mike Kernaghan.  “And she’s well coached by Maurice Symes.”

“She’s very receptive, she listens well and she takes on board new ideas. She’s a real open book.  And what’s really great, she’s keen as mustard.”

Briar was introduced to the game by her mum, Tina Atkinson-Watt, who’s also a dab hand at the gentile game at Paritutu, and plays with Briar when things get serious.  These days, the teenage Briar has even been handed over the skips mantle.

Briar’s been described as a Blackjack-in-waiting.  And despite the talent in the current Women’s Blackjacks, she’s already lining up to be selected.

There’s plenty of time.  When you’re only 19, you’ve got a heck of a lot of bowling ahead of you to show your mettle.

She’s already won Taranaki’s Women’s Player of the Year in 2023.

And with all these accolades, she has forced the hand of the selection panel to be awarded the Bowls New Zealand Women’s Emerging Player of the Year.

Congratulations Briar.

Bowls New Zealand, 18th September, 2023.
https://bowlsnewzealand.co.nz/news/emerging-player-of-the-year-briar-atkinson/