The Buckland Bowling Club Inc was incorporated in 1922.
A small group of Buckland men joined forces to form the club as they set about creating the nucleus of an amenity of which the Buckland District is justifiably proud.
It all started at what was then the local dairy factory, the common meeting place for farmers in those early days, yet still standing only a hefty stone's throw away from the bowling green. One morning, whilst awaiting their turn to weigh in their cream supplies, the late Robert King and Andy Shaw were discussing the sale of sections in George Street, as it was known then, and owned by the late George Hill. It was, in their opinion, an ideal site for a lawn bowling green, thoughts of which both men had been turning over in their minds for some time previously.
Both were men of action. Robert King, as soon as he arrived home from the factory, harnessed up the old grey mare in the family gig, called to pick up Andy Shaw and away they went to seek further support for a local bowling club. Within a couple of hours, they had the late Ebeneezer Allan, Jack Hamilton and Walter Jefferis in full agreement.. These five gentlemen thereupon advanced the sum of 25 pounds each to guarantee a fund to cover the purchase price of the land, (one hundred and twenty pounds). That same afternoon, they called upon Mr.Hill and with little formality arranged the purchase of the section, no shilly-shallying in those days-they were keen to get on with the job.
At that time, the Buckland village was somewhat isolated from Pukekohe - roads were of heavy metal surface and suited only to horse drawn vehicles; there were few motor cars - probably the first car in Buckland was that which was purchased by Bob Wright in 1914 with its front of gleaming brass and with its hood held firmly in place by leather straps attached to the mudguards.
"At a meeting held in Buckland on Monday last" states the Franklin Times of Friday, March 24, 1922,"it was decided to form a bowling club at Buckland. Over 40 members were immediately enrolled and officers were elected for the ensuing year. Well done, Buckland"
This then fixes the date of the inception of the Club as 24th March, 1922. More or less simultaneously with the idea of a bowling club being formed at Buckland came the thought of a croquet club. Mr. and Mrs. Andy Shaw were keen croquet players and suggested the purchase of the adjoining available section to that required for the bowling green, and this was soon done. What better arrangement could there be? Nearly all of the ladies who later became croquet players were wives or mothers of the subsequent members of the bowling club.
Although never registered as such, but because of the more or less combined activities of the two clubs, they were locally referred to as the Buckland Bowling and Croquet Club. (officially, the bowling club was later affiliated to the Northern Waikato Bowling Association, which in 1936, changed its name to Franklin Bowling Association to bring it more in line with the name of the district.
A further change in title took place in 1952 when it joined the Auckland Bowling Centre, (Franklin Sub-Centre). In 1979, the Franklin Subcentre gained full Centre status on becoming the Counties Bowling Centre, affiliated to the New Zealand Bowling Association. In 1996, Counties Bowling Centre changed its name to Counties-Manukau Bowls Incorporated. Another name change occured in 2010, this time to Bowls Counties Manukau Inc
The construction of the bowling green could not start soon enough. Enthusiasm ran high among the locals who turned up with their picks, shovels, horse drawn scoops and drays to clear the area of trees and scrub. Bulldozers or other modern high-powered earth moving machinery were undreamed of in those days - Bob Semple had yet to appear in Dominion politics, so it was all "hard yakker" and wheel barrow stuff and they without pneumatic tyres, mind you.
Thirsts were soon built up by the heavy work involved; Claude Rountree supplied ready relief with liberal doses of his well-known parsnip and rhubarb wines - perhaps served with subtle purpose to attract and hold full attendance at the many working-bees required to complete the job.
After many months the green was completed to the stage where play could commence, all for a total cost of (eighty pounds sterling ) ( $160). The great day had arrived. Wednesday November 1st 1922. It was the gala day of the year. The whole district appeared to have turned up for this great occasion, in addition to the invited representatives of the kindred bowling and croquet clubs in the Franklin area, and other dignitaries of the game from further afield. Play went on to the accompaniment of soft music from the Pukekohe Municipal band, which was in attendance - no glaring loudspeakers in those days.
The sumptuous afternoon tea was supplied by the ladies of the croquet club. Seating space was limited to the then small punga hut pavilion and up to three sittings were required to cater for the large crowd that attended. The late Ebeneezer Allan, the club's first President was a very colourful personality, he marching around the green and through the native bush with a Highland piper close on his heels - vigorously playing that well known lusty tune "Men of Harlech" all far removed from the pop tunes of today.
The science and practice of bowling green management has advanced considerably over 90 years, going from the previous laborious and heavy work to more scientific methods and equipment. Think back to that heavy, water filled roller that took two or three men to push; the modern roller has the comfort of a seat for the greenkeeper who can roll a green in a few minutes. The computerised automatic watering system installed by the club in 1984 was another advancement, saving many hours spent in shifting irrigation equipment.
The composition of bowling green turf has similarly advanced over the years. Grass species, mainly brown top and chewings fescue prevailed for almost 60 years but now largely displaced by weed species such as cotula and starweed. An all weather turf is now the latest innovation for bowling greens and it is possible that the Buckland club will, in due course, progress to that type of playing surface.
In March 1972, the club celebrated its 50th Golden Jubilee year but regrettably, most unusual wet weather for that time of year caused the special tournament arranged to mark the event to be abandoned. However, a social luncheon was held on the following week-end, in conjunction with the members of the Buckland Croquet Club who were also celebrating their own 50th Jubilee. To mark the bowling club's 50th Jubilee year, a concrete block wall, now referred to as the Jubilee Wall, was erected to replace a hedge growing on the club's southern boundary. Built mainly from voluntary labour, this structure cost $600 with something like 1000 blocks set. A plaque inscribed with the name of the club is set in position on the wall at its main entrance.
Official club colours have changed over the years. 1922-1952 Navy blue blazer with gold monogram on the pocket. 1952 - 1979, Navy blue blazer and tie - Auckland Bowling Centre. 1979- Brown blazer with brown and gold striped tie - Counties Bowling Centre and now, Counties-Manukau Bowls. 1979- The Buckland club was the venue for the Official opening of Counties Bowling Centre that was formed that year. Representatives of the Auckland, Northland and Waikato bowling centres and the 21 clubs which formed the new centre were present at that opening. Bob Jarrett and Jim McConachie, both members of the Buckland club, were President and Secretary/Treasurer respectively of the new Centre in its inaugural year.
In 2004, The Pokeno Bowling Club closed and most of the 13 members joined with Buckland. The sale of the Pokeno club raised in excess of $160,000 which was transferred to the newly expanded Buckland/Pokeno Club. This was after a bit of a stoush with the Counties Centre who thought that the sale proceeds should have gone to the Centre. A Grant was applied for to the ASB of $80,000 and by adding the two sums together, the clubrooms were upgraded significantly with the movement of the kitchen into one corner and a new Lounge, The Pukeko Lounge, was installed. (Pukeko was the official logo of the Pokeno Club, as is the Kereru of the Buckland Club). The renovations were officially opened by Dr. Paul Hutchinson, MP for Hunua in September 2008. A little later, all the clubs that formed the Centre then, bar one, were asked to participate in a trust that purchased bars with Gaming facilities which then allowed the trust to distribute grants applied for by the participating clubs from the profits of the gaming facilities. The criteria for payments to the trust were $20,000 per lawn green. Buckland did not participate in the first bar purchase (Te Rapa) but decided to join in the second one (Paraparaumu) so found $40,000 to apply to be part of the trust. The Club put in $10,000 and ten members put in $3,000 each with hopes of repayment at a later date. With the somewhat contentious issue of the purchase of a third pub, the whole scheme fell apart and with all the financial constraints resulting from the 2008/9 GFC, all the clubs involved lost the money invested, a serious blow to all of them. The Counties Centre was taken over by Bowls NZ until later, it was reformed as Bowls Counties Manuaku 2010. Over the next few years, 5 of the Members who lent $3000 were repaid, and the other 5 donated their investment to the club. It was very hard going financially for 5 or 6 years. One bright point to emerge from this debacle was that eventually, Dorchester Finaance, who had been heavily involved in the scheme, issued shares to the clubs. They were of little value originally but gradually, and especially after the company name was changed to Turners and the objectives of the company clarified, the shares steadily grew in value and in mid June 2021, were worth $4.48 each. The club had thereby recovered its original outlay of $10,000 dollars many years later.
Approximately 550 bowlers have, collectively, been members of Buckland Bowling Club during its first 98 years. Its present membership is 50.