Walter Mildenhall Park

World-class bowls centre open for business

A media release from Hutt City Council, dated 1 September 2017

The new Regional Bowls Centre at Walter Mildenhall Park will be officially opened by Mayor Ray Wallace and the Chairperson of the Community Facilities Trust Kirsten Patterson, 4.30pm on Friday 1 September.

The Bowls Centre is the new home of the Naenae Bowling Club, which has moved from its old site in Witako Street, next to Lower Hutt Hospital. The Club has merged with the Naenae RSA and Park Avenue Bowling Club.

Naenae Bowling Club President Ross Thorn is delighted with the new premises. He puts the clubs’ membership increase from 200 to 368 since June down to the new facilities. One new member will even be travelling once a week from Christchurch to Naenae to play in the women’s’ competition.

“By any standard, this is a world-class facility. The indoor arena fundamentally changes our sport as it enables play all-year-round in any weather. This is great for casual bowlers and professional bowlers alike.”

The centre boasts three outdoor greens and a covered green, and is already booked for several national tournaments starting with the Professional Bowling Association New Zealand finals later in September. Mr Thorn says international events are a real possibility.

Chief Executive of New Zealand Bowls, Mark Cameron, says: “This new facility would have to be rated as one of the best in the country, if not the world. Naenae is definitely on our radar in terms of tournament hosting.”

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace was positive about the project and its benefits to Lower Hutt.

“It’s a great, modern facility which will draw visitors from around the country and give the local economy a welcome boost. This facility is one more jewel in the crown of a number of quality local sporting facilities that will eventually make the North Eastern suburbs a highly-desirable sporting and leisure destination.”

He says the Council-owned Community Facilities Trust (CFT), which raised a large proportion of the funds for the project, presented a vision of how the park is part of a broader recreational centre. This comprises the Naenae Pool, Badminton Hutt Valley, meeting rooms and the now revamped tennis courts, new petanque courts and world-class bowling greens.

“I think it is also important to view this facility in conjunction with the Walter Nash Centre, the Fraser Park Sports and Community Hub and the new Town Hall and Events Centre,” Mayor Wallace says.

“We are building a powerful narrative of a rejuvenating city, one that has the facilities to host regional and national events and tournaments. This is a further example of us following through on our plan to re-invigorate our city, a plan that our residents strongly endorse.

“A special acknowledgement is also necessary for the $2 million contribution from other funders, most significantly the bowls community and Pelorus Trust.”

Kirsten Patterson paid tribute to the project team for delivering the stunning new facility. 

“This was a real team effort. A totally enclosed arena with a tensioned membrane roof is a world-first for the sport. Architects, Tennent and Brown, and contractors, Hawkins, have done a great job. This is leading edge architecture and construction,” she says.

Key facts:

  • The project cost $6.25 million. Hutt City Council’s contribution was $4.25 million and expects most, if not all, of this sum to be recouped through the sale of Council-owned bowling greens in the city that are no longer used.
  • In addition, Council committed $600,000 to much-needed improvements to the park, including tennis courts, petanque courts, fencing and other improvements.
  • CFT raised more than $2 million in community grants and club contributions, including $1 million from the wider bowling community.
  • The facility was project-managed by CFT and will be owned and maintained by the trust.  It has been leased to the Naenae Bowling Club as lead tenant.  CFT is a Council Controlled Organisation.
  • The Naenae Bowling Club merged with the Park Avenue Bowling Club and the Naenae RSA. Many more clubs, including petanque, indoor bowls and darts, will use the multi-purpose club rooms.
  • The indoor green is encapsulated by a tensioned membrane roof that is extremely strong yet flexible. Designed to withstand extreme weather, strong wind gusts and seismic activity.  It covers a 40 square metre “carpet” surface known as Greengauge.
  • Three natural greens have been re-sown with Maniatoto weed, and completely refurbished by the Park Avenue and Naenae Bowls Clubs independently of the CFT development.