• Maureen Taylor.

President tackles challenging period head on

Nobody could accuse Bowls North Harbour’s president, Maureen Taylor, of over-stating the case when she describes her two years to date in the position as “very memorable”.

Her term, which started in the 2019-20 season and is now into the current season, has coincided with the pandemic, which has caused so much disruption to all areas of everyday life. And lawn bowls, and many of its activities, has been among the casualties, which has caused someone like Maureen all sorts of headaches, for she not only is president of the centre but is a key member of the centre match committee.

“There has been a lot of disruption not just for Bowls North Harbour but nationally and for the clubs,” she says. “A lot of our clubs in particular have been hit very hard.”

Inevitably, the various lock-downs have meant a considerable amount of rearrangement which has had impacts on all levels of the game, requiring sacrifice and good will from everyone to ensure most of the programmes can be accommodated.

There were many cancellations of events last season, the most significant being the abandonment of the national inter-centre championship, for which Harbour had high hopes of success.

For this season, for Bowls North Harbour especially, the biggest blow has been the cancellation of the New Zealand Masters tournament, just as it was about to begin, which the centre was due to host for the second consecutive year.

The February lockdown came on the very eve of the tournament and indeed many of the players and officials first learnt of the need to cancel at the welcoming function at the Browns Bay club.

That meant those bowlers who had already arrived from many parts of the country, even from Central Otago in the South Island, had no option but to return home. And for the Harbour centre it meant a considerable loss of revenue, for in the 2019-20 season the Masters had been an excellent money-spinner.

The various lockdowns have also meant many meetings could not be held in the usual, formal sense, introducing Maureen to something she and others of her generation, had never heard of previously: Zoom conferences.

Maureen now hopes that something like normality will return for the 2021-22 season and while she has yet to confirm her availability most probably would be happy for her to continue into a third year.

A youthful 80-year-old, Maureen only arrived in New Zealand to join son Neil in 2000 from her native Scotland, where she first played bowls with her late husband Bill in Aberdeen in the early 1980s. Indeed, she was a spectator in that city when Peter Belliss won his world singles title from her countryman Willie Wood.

She quickly became just as steeped in the game here, firstly with the Mairangi Bay women’s club and then the combined club, as president and umpire, and since 2008, after a shift to Stanmore Bay, with Orewa, where she soon became match committee chair.

She has been equally effective on the green and with Mairangi clubmates, the late Moira O’Brien and Caryl Miles, in 2002-03 won the centre’s champion of champions triples title.

And while it has been a tough couple of years for local bowls, she is mindful of the battles of others elsewhere, especially her relatives and friends in her homeland who have been in much longer lockdowns. “Sometimes I think New Zealanders don’t appreciate how lucky we’ve been here.” she says.