The Island bay Bowling Club was established in 1918 from the determination of one early resident, Charles Hill. He had formed a small bowling green within his own residential property, calling the green Te Hiwi. By the 1890’s he had even had it registered as the Te Hiwi Bowling Club by the Wellington Bowling Centre and representative games were held on it.
In 1910 two well-known Wellington businessmen joined the club, Charles and Alf Odlin, both timber and hardware merchants.
A few years later Hill and the Odlins discussed forming a full size bowling green in the Bay. Despite wartime restrictions, the Odlins managed to purchase three allotments on The Parade and by 1917 formation work began for a new green. By the end of that year it was ready for play.
The grand opening was held on 5 January 1918, and 35 members attended. By then, Charles Hill had realized his dream and so the Te Hiwi Club quietly faded away.
From this point on, the Island Bay Club flourished. The green was expanded with the purchase of an adjoining section to become two greens, fronting The Parade, then moved further west, while the little clubhouse on the southern side, was dismantled and a new bigger structure was erected on the road side.
Being so close to the sea, the new Bowling Club began to draw the interest of the various Italian and Shetland Island fishing communities, as a way of relaxation from the rigours of working in Cook Strait. A number of them decided to pursue lawn bowls as a sport, and they quickly took to the game like ducks to water, and it wasn’t long before names like Basile, Muollo, Massa, Imlach, Volpicelli, Greco and others began appearing on the Club Honours Boards as Titleholders.
Two such names have performed exceedingly well to earn themselves Gold Stars, Anna Basile and Domenico Massa. (pictured)
Domenic Massa is one of the few Bowlers in New Zealand to have earned his Gold Star playing for just one club, his own Island Bay.
Anna has earned most of hers at the Bay but other clubs as well, and is regular playing mate of another Gold Star winner, Marlene Alberino-Kay.
However there are many other members who have, and still are, winning club and centre titles, who have helped the aforementioned Italians achieve their success. In addition to the success on the green our members are huge supporters within the Club itself and can often be seen helping around the premises. Volunteers for any job are always available.
Island Bay Bowling Club, unlike many other clubs that have disappeared or struggling, has always enjoyed a healthy, strong playing member base. We also actively promote social bowling amongst outside groups who visit the club in increasing numbers, like Bowls in the Bay and Loose End Bowls.
When a person visits the Club and the greens, they see beautiful murals painted on the stone walls surrounding the greens, these were done by one of our playing members, Jenny Rattenbury. The gardens are lovingly tended by two of our members, and we have a dedicated band of caterers who assist with any event or function.
Island Bay’s reputation for top class greens, ably looked after by Steve and Hugh, has resulted in the Club being selected as a venue for Centre and National Bowls events.
The Club continues to thrive, and with the continued dedication given by its members, will enjoy ongoing success for many more years to come.