Hutt at Heart
Bowlers in action at the Naenae Bowling Club
Naenae Bowling Club

World-class Naenae Bowling Club going from strength to strength

The new Naenae Bowling Club is going from strength to strength, returning both social and economic benefits for Naenae and the wider Lower Hutt community.

The world-class facility, which opened in late 2017, recently hosted the Bowls Premier League for the second time. The four-day event featured seven teams from Australia and one from New Zealand, with a high class field including world champions and multiple Commonwealth Games Gold medallists. It was broadcast live on Sky Sport and Fox Sports Australia, with the facility again receiving great reviews from the commentators and competitors.

Naenae Bowling Club President Glenn McTaggart says the event showcased the club to a National and International audience giving great exposure to both Lower Hutt and the bowls facility.

“The event was highly successful with participants and commentators alike describing the club as a great facility. This was a terrific advertisement for the club and the wider community,” he said.

“Immediately following that, our club hosted the Bowls NZ Summerset National Fours competition. These types of events continue to build our reputation as a facility capable of hosting national and international bowls. Bowls New Zealand considers the club to be currently the best bowls facility in the country. Our membership currently sits at 900 and is continuing to grow. As well as attractive membership options within a modern social environment for competitive and social bowls, we also offer dining, corporate packages, darts and snooker.”

As well as generating good social activity, the Naenae Bowling Club is making a positive economic impact. The NZ Bowls Summerset National Fours competition brought more than 100 teams to Lower Hutt, staying for up to a week, and along with the international event, injected over $300,000 into Lower Hutt’s economy through accommodation, restaurants and retail spending.

Integrated Facilities Plan

The Naenae Bowling Club facility is part of Hutt City Council’s Integrated Facilities Plan aimed at rationalising, redeveloping and building new facilities to help rejuvenate the city. These include the Walter Nash Centre in Taita, the Koraunui Stokes Valley Community Hub and the Ricoh Sports Centre in Taita. The Council-owned Community Facilities Trust (the Trust) has raised most of the funds for these projects and led their development – all up that’s around $50 million of facilities. For the Naenae Bowling Club, the Community Facilities Trust raised $1.95m, with Council contributing another $4.25m and the Thorndon Bowling Club Charitable Trust contributed $800k.

Council’s General Manager of Community and City Services Matt Reid says it’s a great example of Council and community working closely together to create a facility that not only meets local needs, but brings additional benefits.

“The Naenae Bowling Club has been a huge success story for everyone involved. Local bowlers have world-class greens available in all weather which is driving participation and the community has a multi-purpose facility with a busy restaurant bringing visitors to Naenae and wider Lower Hutt. It’s been a real win-win.”

Innovative and unique

The Naenae Bowls Centre was designed by Tennent Brown Architects and is located on the site of the Park Avenue Bowling Club, adjacent to other sports facilities including Naenae Pool and tennis courts. The new development added an indoor bowling green, refurbished three outdoor greens, rebuilt the clubrooms, refurbished the tennis courts and added new petanque courts as well as a café and bar.

The 40m x 40m indoor green boasts an innovative and unique roof, cleverly designed to be structurally independent from the walls so it spans the entire playing area and less support pillars are required. Being under cover means bowls can be played summer and winter, during the day and night. Another interesting feature is the LED lights that hang down from the roof and provide an even light across the artificial green. They also make the whole roof light up and glow at night time.

Matt Reid says Council has plans for more integrated community facilities in the future.

“With the Walter Nash Centre and Koraunui Stokes Valley, attendance rates have doubled compared to the number of people who used the old facilities. And the Naenae Bowling Club membership is more than four times what it was,” he said.

“Everyone who is using those facilities is getting some sort of personal benefit, their communities are building stronger bonds and they’re helping build community identity and pride. It’s great to see, and it’s all validation of Council’s decision to invest in new community facilities as part of its strategy to rejuvenate the city.”

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