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Paeroa local Margaret Henderson has been playing outdoor bowls for 50 years. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

Margaret reaches bowling milestone

Once Margaret Henderson transitioned from indoor to outdoor bowls, she never looked back.
For 50 years she has been a presence at the Paeroa, Thames, and Kerepehi clubs, and has amassed an array of titles and memories – with certificates and photographs stored in albums and scattered across her dining table.
“I wasn’t going to sit around all day with the neighbours,” she says with a laugh. “When my youngest fella went to school at Tirau, I followed him out the gate.”
That was 50 years ago, and the now 83-year-old continues to play bowls at Kerepehi, where there was a special tournament held in her honour on January 17.
She was president of Thames Valley Bowls from 2011 to 2013 and represented the club for many years, gaining 43 Thames Valley titles. She’s played in Australia and on Vancouver Island for Bowls New Zealand.
“I didn’t think I’d be fit enough for tennis or the more rigorous sports,” she says, pointing out that the highlight of her long-standing bowls career has been the people she has met.
“It’s been the company; I’ve met a nice lot of people,” she says. “See, I can talk to the plants but they don’t answer back.”
Outdoor bowls, also known as lawn bowls, is a sport in which the objective is to roll biassed balls so that they stop close to a smaller ball called a jack or kitty. It is played on a bowling green, and the outdoor surface is either natural grass, artificial turf or cotula.
Margaret’s calendar can get quite busy, with tournament options across the district, from Morrinsville to Hauraki to Thames Coast.
She’s always happy to play against or alongside anyone.
“I’m not a snob,” she says.
This playing season, which kicks off in August, Margaret will be returning to her home turf – the Paeroa bowls club, but she says she’s no longer interested in playing competitively.
“I gave up singles ages ago and just want to play tournaments now – when you’re in a team.
“But we all have our off days, we’re all human,” she says, “Some days, you’ve got nothing between the ears. You’ve got to have a laugh at these things.”
Margaret says Business House Bowls is always a good opportunity for people to get involved in the sport, and that it is an activity fit for all ages and abilities.
She herself never practises – even before a tournament.
“You just concentrate when you’re playing championships… making sure you’ve got the bias right to start with!”