Maraetai has a devil of a time!
2 November 2023
By Duncan Pardon

Maraetai Bowling Club has been playing bowls with the devil, as well as a few vampires, skeletons and the undead.

It was all part of a Halloween bowls event staged for the local community, which in turn is part of the club’s long-term strategy to involve the community in the club’s activities. It is a way of both raising funds towards replacing the artificial green and other facilities as well as introducing the sport to a slightly different demographic. It also creates a pipeline of potential new members.

The club stages several community events a year. They are always well patronised, and those attending are usually a bit younger and more diverse than the club’s older, mostly male, membership.

Partly because of these events and the recent opening of a nearby Metlifecare retirement village, the club has seen a sharp increase in members over the past couple of years. Since July 2022, the club has added 36 new members (while losing eight) which has nearly doubled club membership. There are now 74 full-playing members, and the club is considering adding another playing day.

The club recognised that its principal assets were significantly under-utilised, so has now taken a more strategic approach to growth. A new committee has expanded on, and accelerated, existing programmes and introduced new initiatives.

It has taken a more corporate approach to governance by assigning committee members detailed roles and responsibilities as well as introducing new sub-committees with written plans to look closely at, for example, how to grow membership.

Raising the club’s profile in the community is a key part of the strategy. This includes articles in the local newspaper and weekly posts on the club’s Facebook page and the local Facebook “grapevine”. 

The aim is to change the club’s culture. The introduction of new members (including younger and female players) with music playing during games and home baking for afternoon tea have all contributed to people having more fun!