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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




Bowls in New Zealand were first introduced in Auckland about 1860. The Auckland Bowling Club, established in 1861, was the first club, its green being ready for play and opened in 1862. A Wellington merchant, George Turnbull, imported a set of bowls in 1862. Moving to Dunedin in course of business shortly afterwards, he introduced the game to many of his friends, and for several years games were played wherever a suitable playing surface could be found. In December 1871 the Dunedin Bowling and Quoiting club was formed. The Dunedin club's green was opened on 21 December 1872, thus becoming the second official club in New Zealand. In November 1875 the Christchurch Bowling Club was formed. In March 1876 a piece of land about half an acre in area in Worcester Street was purchased and “a competent gardener” placed in charge to prepare the grounds. In the meantime the members had the use of a private green in Latimer Square and played there until the club's green was ready. In 1879 annual matches against the Dunedin Bowling Club were begun, each club visiting the other in alternate years. In 1889 the club became a limited liability company in order to deal with its somewhat difficult financial problems, but in 1896 it reverted to an incorporated society. Milton club, Otago, the oldest country club in New Zealand, was next to appear. It was formed in 1878. From then on new bowling clubs were regularly formed, especially in the eighties. According to the Otago Daily Times, the first inter-club bowling match in New Zealand took place on 22 January 1876 between the Dunedin Bowling Club and the Fernhill Club. There were 12 players a side.


Robert Sproull Menzies Sinclair, B.A., M.COM., DIP.SOC.SCI., Secretary-Treasurer, New Zealand Bowling Association, Dunedin.