New Zealand Indoor Bowls

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New Zealand Indoor Bowls
Nicknames NZIB
First played 1908
Contact NZ Indoor Bowls Federation website
Mixed gender Yes
Type Bowling
Equipment Bowl & Jack

New Zealand Indoor Bowls (NZIB) is a form of Indoor bowls that is a highly competitive strategic sport. As its only international fixture is a Trans-Tasman event played under Trans-Tasman rules, it is a sport unique to New Zealand.


Early development[edit]

NZIB started in Auckland, New Zealand around 1908. It is thought to have first been brought to New Zealand by a John Jenkins[who?].

Until 1925 however there was a need for bowls that took a consistent green. The answer came when English bowl manufacturer Taylor Rolph began to produce four inch lignum vitae bowls in sets of 16 that were guaranteed to take a consistent green. These are believed to be the first indoor bowls made specifically for the New Zealand market.

Another problem faced by the pioneers of the sport was finding a suitable mat. After many others had tried to find a mat suitable for the game, W Miller, manager of the Onehunga woollen mills, was approached to design a special mat that played in a way that satisfied the needs of the game. The size eventually decided on was 22 ft long by 6 ft wide. These measurements are still in use today.

After these standardisations the game began to spread rapidly. By 1938 there were an estimated 10,000 bowlers in the Auckland area alone. By the mid 1940s NZIB was growing rapidly in most areas. As a result of this growth the New Zealand Indoor Bowling Federation (NZIBF) was formed on 18 September 1948.[1]

Post NZIBF development[edit]

The NZIBF is managed by an executive committee made up of nine members, elected by vote. Canterbury, Hawkes Bay, Horowhenua, Hutt Valley, Palmerston North, Central Taranaki, South Taranaki, Wanganui and Wellington were the first member districts of the Federation. Waikato and Taranaki North joined in 1949 but it wasn't until 1954 that the large Auckland Association affiliated. Their entry brought the total affiliated membership of the time to 21,000.

Because the game has developed solely in New Zealand various rules have developed over time that make NZIB unique to New Zealand, Although major rule changes are rare, the NZIBF releases a NZIB law book every 5 years. One notable rule change was the completement of the harmonising of the game by introducing a 2" diameter jack, as up until 1950 an outdoor jack had been used.

It was around this time that Australian Bowl Manufacturer Hensilite first made its appearance in the NZIB market. Hensilite is now the sole brand of indoor bowl in use in New Zealand.[2]

A bowl suitable for use in NZIB as defined by the '05 NZIB law book should have these characteristics:

  • 1. A set of bowls should be in a set of 16, 8 of black and 8 of a contrasting colour
  • 2. They shall have a draw of not less than 840 millimetres in a run of 5.50 meters on an approved testing table.
  • 3. Their size and weight should be within the following limits: (i)94.5-100 millimetres (ii) 624-700 grams


New Zealand Indoor Bowls is made up of 37 centres and 767 clubs covering all of New Zealand. Membership peaked in 1963 with 73,100 affiliated members. Today it has an estimated 30,000 members. Many are attracted to the sport due to the competitiveness and skill it requires. [3]

A player kneeling and using the pincer grip. This photo was taken during the semifinal of the fours at the '07 nationals.


Three main stances are used by players of NZIB:

  • Kneeling on one knee
  • Kneeling on two knees
  • Crouching

Scoring system[edit]

A game is made up of a series of ends. The winner of the game is the team with the most points when all ends are played or when the time limit is reached. Depending on the rules of play as dictated by the organisers of the competition, if a draw results, either:

  • a) A deciding end is played
  • b) The scorecard is marked as a drawn game

International competition[edit]

International competition only takes place biannually between New Zealand and Australia on a home and away basis. Each country has different rules and conditions, so to even the playing field the match is played on special mats which are longer and thicker than the ones commonly used in New Zealand, but shorter than those used in Australia. The match is also played under a different set of rules due to the variations between the two countries.

Each team comprises the top 7 men and 7 women from each country. They combine to play in men's and women's singles, men's and women's pairs, mixed 8 bowl pairs, mixed 6 bowl pairs, men's and women's triples, men's and women's fours and mixed fours. Games consist of 3 sets of various ends. Each team that wins their set wins the Australasian Medal with the overall scores being combined to decide the winner of the Henselite Trophy.

NZ has won the trophy 14 times to Australia's 4. Australia however are the current holders after defeating NZ 37-29 in Broken Hill, Australia in May 2009. This was Australia's first win since 1991.

Garry Flewitt and Ron Inglis have won the largest amount of Australian medals and share the highest honours. While Flewitt is still a current member of the team Inglis no longer plays for NZ. Dean Gilshnan from Manawatu is fast catching up to the pair. Among the Trans Tasmans' top current players are Simon Thomas, Canterbury, who has won his last 17 games in succession for NZ, and Australia's Monika Korn, who has won 13 successive games.

National competitions[edit]

Junior singles[edit]

Each year each district selects one under 18 bowler to compete in Wellington for the NZ Junior singles. To qualify for this event one must be under 18 and be affiliated to a club/centre and to one of the junior singles district competitions. This event also leads into the NZ secondary schools pairs and singles.

Paterson Trophy[edit]

The Paterson Trophies were introduced in 1964 as a means of enabling more districts to participate in high level inter-centre competition. The holders of Paterson Trophies at the end of each season compete in a round robin play off for the Welch Trophy. This includes Singles, Pairs and Fours. Currently the Paterson Trophy is held over an area of six zones:

  • Zone 1. Roskill & Districts, Northland, Auckland, North Harbour, Thames Valley, Counties
  • Zone 2. Poverty Bay, Hawkes Bay, Waikato, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty
  • Zone 3. Manawatu, King Country, Central King Country, Wanganui, Taranaki, North Taranaki
  • Zone 4. Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, Upper Hutt Valley, Horowhenua, Bush Ruahine, North Wellington
  • Zone 5. Buller, Marlborough, Canterbury, Ashburton, Nelson, Golden Bay-Motueka
  • Zone 6. South Otago, South Canterbury, North Otago, Otago, Central Otago, Southland

For 1989 districts were divided into twelve zones. A round robin competition was staged within each zone. The winner of zones one and two, three and four, etc., played off for a Paterson Trophy. The six Paterson winners then met in the Welch Trophy.

From 1990-2004 the Paterson Trophies were run as follows: Zone 5 & 6 which had four districts meet in a round robin on the fourth weekend in June. Zone 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 competed on the third complete weekend in July. The winners of zone 5 & 6 met on the Sunday of that weekend and the winners of each competition won one of the six Paterson Trophies (Zoning from 1991-2004 shown below).

  • Zone 1 - Northland, Counties, Roskill & Districts, Auckland, North Shore
  • Zone 2 - Waikato, Tauranga, King Country, Central King Country, Taranaki, North Taranaki
  • Zone 3 - Bay of Plenty, Poverty Bay, Hawkes Bay, Wanganui, Manawatu
  • Zone 4 - Upper Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, Bush Ruahine, North Wellington, Hutt Valley, Horowhenua
  • Zone 5 - Nelson, Golden Bay-Motueka, Buller, Marlborough
  • Zone 6 - Hokitika, Canterbury, Greymouth, Ashburton
  • Zone 7 - South Canterbury, North Otago, Otago, Central Otago, South Otago, Southland
Paterson Trophy Winners (when possible zone numbers are in front of name.)
Year Winning Center
1989 Manukau, Waikato, Hawkes Bay, North Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury
1990 Manukau, North Taranaki, Manawatu, Upper Hutt Valley, Marlborough, Otago
1991 1. Auckland 2. Waikato 3. Hawkes Bay 4. Upper Hutt Valley 5&6. Golden Bay/Motueka 7. Otago
1992 1. Auckland 2. North Taranaki 3.Hawkes Bay 4. North Wellington 5&6. Nelson 7. Otago
1993 1. North Shore, 2. Waikato, 3. Manawatu, 4. North Wellington, 5&6. Nelson, 7. Otago
1994 1. Roskill & Districts, 2. Waikato, 3. Hawkes Bay, 4. North Wellington, 5&6. Nelson, 7. Otago
1995 1. Auckland, 2. Waikato, 3. Manawatu, 4. Hutt Valley, 5. Golden Bay-Motueka, 6. Canterbury
1996 1. Auckland, 2. North Taranaki, 3. Manawatu, 4. Hutt Valley, 5. Nelson, 6. Canterbury
1997 1. Auckland, 2. Waikato, 3. Manawatu, 4. Wairarapa, 5. Golden Bay Motueka, 6. Canterbury
1998 1. Auckland, 2. Waikato, 3. Manawatu, 4. Hutt Valley, 5&6. Canterbury, 7. Otago
1999 1. Northland, 2. Tauranga, 3. Manawatu, 4. Upper Hutt Valley, 5&6. Canterbury, 7. Otago
2000 1. Auckland, 2. North Taranaki, 3. Manawatu, 4. Upper Hutt Valley, 5&6. Nelson, 7. Otago
2001 1. North Shore, 2. Waikato, 3. Manawatu, 4. North Wellington, 5&6. Canterbury, 7. Otago
2002 1. Auckland, 2. North Taranaki, 3. Manawatu, 4. Upper Hutt Valley, 5. Southland, 6. Canterbury
2003 1. Auckland, 2. Waikato, 3. Manawatu, 4. Upper Hutt Valley, 5. Nelson, 6. Otago
2004 1. Auckland, 2. Tauranga, 3. Manawatu, 4. Upper Hutt Valley, 5. Canterbury, 6. Otago
2005 1. Roskill & Districts, 2. Tauranga, 3. Manawatu, 4. Upper Hutt Valley, 5. Ashburton, 6. Southland
2006 1. Roskill & Districts, 2. Waikato, 3. Wanganui, 4. Upper Hutt Valley, 5. Canterbury, 6. Otago
2007 1. Auckland, 2. Manawatu, 3. Canterbury, 4. Tauranga, 5. Upper Hutt Valley, 6. Southland
2008 1. Auckland, 2. Waikato, 3. Manawatu, 4. Hutt Valley, 5. Canterbury, 6. Southland
2009 1. Roskill and Districts, 2. Tauranga, 3. Manawatu, 4. Hutt Valley, 5. Canterbury, 6. Otago
2008 1. Auckland, 2. Waikato, 3. North Taranaki, 4. Hutt Valley, 5. Canterbury, 6. Otago

Welch Trophy[edit]

The Welch Trophy was founded in 1951 and is considered NZIBF's premier inter-centre challenge, the title of which is hotly contested. Although the format has changed over the years, the Welch Trophy is currently played for in a national final between the six Paterson trophy holders for that season.

Welch Trophy Winners
Year Winning Center
1989 Waikato
1990 Otago
1991 Waikato
1992 Auckland
1993 Waikato
1994 Waikato
1995 Waikato
1996 Manawatu
1997 Waikato
1998 Manawatu
1999 Otago
2000 Manawatu
2001 Otago
2002 Manawatu
2003 Otago
2004 Manawatu
2005 Upper Hutt Valley
2006 Waikato
2007 Auckland
2008 Canterbury
2009 Canterbury
2010 Canterbury
2011 Canterbury

2012 North Taranaki

NZIB Nationals[edit]

The Nationals is the premier open tournament of the NZIB season. Almost every affiliated member aspires to winning a Nationals title. Currently they take 8 days of intensive play to complete.[citation needed]

The titles contested for during this time are:

  • Singles
National Singles Championaship Winners
Year Winning Center
1950 H Hubbard, Wellington
1951 J McGuiness, Wellington
1952 C E Minifie, Waikato
1953 O Jordan, Taranaki
1954 G McDonald, Hutt Valley
1955 C W Hancock, Manawatu
1956 J Pirrett Jnr, Auckland
1957 A H Thomas, Wellington
1958 R J A Pinhey, Hutt Valley
1959 W Wells, Wellington
1960 J W Woods, Wellington
1961 G A Keith, Mid Canterbury
1962 T Burr, Waikato
1963 B McLennan, Waikato
1964 L Bellis, Greymouth
1965 R McK Bethwaite, Wellington
1966 S Johnstone, Southland
1967 J C Michie, Hutt Valley
1968 R Cumberland, Waikato
1969 G N Taylor, Canterbury
1970 C Taylor, Auckland
1971 K Darling, Otago
1972 K Boothby, Taranaki
1973 G Dunlop, Bay of Plenty
1974 T Wright, Waikato
1975 B O Stewart, Auckland
1976 G Barnes, Canterbury
1977 R Fleming, Auckland
1978 R Dockary, North Wellington
1979 R J Frelan, Waikato
  • Pairs, won by Blair Spicer and Rob Osborne, Canterbury '09
  • Triples (added in 1993), won by Fred Persico, Hayden Warnes and Chris Moffat, Nelson '09
  • Fours, won by Joseph Zino, Richard Correy, Denise Clarkson and John Zino, Hutt Valley '09

Special trophies

  • Patrons Cup, for the centre with the most game points gathered by its members during the course of play. Won by Canterbury '09.
  • Truth Cup, for the woman going the farthest in the national singles. Won by Sue Burnand, Ashburton '09.
  • Bob Malcolm Memorial Tray, for the married couple going the farthest in the national pairs. Won by Simon & Julie Thomas, Canterbury '09.
  • Cliff Thompson Trophy, for the Junior (under 18 as of 1 March of the year of the championship) who goes the farthest in the Singles. Won by Teri Anderson, North Wellington '09.
  • Kath & S.E.N. Smith Trophy, for the farthest senior (over 65 as at 1 June of the year the championships are played). Won by Audrey Martin, Canterbury '09.
  • Robertson Trophy, Player of the Tournament. Won by Fred Persico, Nelson '09.


  1. ^ NZ Indoor Bowls Federation website 'History tab'
  2. ^ NZ Indoor Bowls Federation website 'History Tab'
  3. ^ NZ Indoor Bowls Federation website About NZIBF tab

External links[edit]