Oratia Bowling Club Mobile 2024 04 15

Rolling together: Oratia Bowling Club unites locals

For 80 years, Oratia Bowling Club has been at the heart of the peaceful semi-rural community. Indeed, the names on the club honours board tell the story of Oratia. Dalmatian immigrants settled in the area in the 1860s. They planted orchards and vineyards, which gave rise to Oratia's nickname as Auckland’s fruit bowl.

While the economic character has changed over the years, the sense of community remains as strong as ever. And the Oratia Bowling Club plays a vital part. With a thriving onsite café and Friday community nights, the club is about much more than bowls.

According to Club Manager Natalie Stone, Oratia Bowling Club is on private land, unlike many other local bowling clubs. This means the club faces considerable costs to keep the land, building and facilities in working order.

Several years ago, the committee decided to open the clubroom as a general community facility. The OBC Café has become a go-to, offering great coffee, tasty fresh food and a warm, welcoming vibe.

The weekly Friday community nights are also very popular, with locals coming together for a meal and a few drinks from 5 to 8 pm. Furthermore, the club hosts regular events such as markets, quiz nights and an upcoming dance.

‘The community nights have been wonderful in boosting community spirits and relationships,’ says Natalie. She adds that these events are excellent for getting new bowlers of all ages onto the green and giving the sport a go. ‘It's a great way to foster the next generation of bowlers,' Natalie advises.

Bowls continue to be popular, and the club boasts around 100 members; some are limited-playing members, and others are more serious. This past summer, the club started a new twilight bowls initiative to encourage participation in a more social setting. Many brand-new players signed up.

Oratia Bowling Club has a grass green, so the season is limited, running from spring to autumn. The club is fundraising for an artificial turf so locals can enjoy bowls and other activities all year round, expanding the number of bowlers and the range of ages and game types.

However, the club urgently needed to upgrade its bathroom and kitchen facilities to meet modern standards and increase its use. Natalie says that repairs and maintenance have been patchy over the years, which meant a major revamp was needed.

The club applied to the 2023 Your West Support Fund, and $10,000 has been allocated to an upgraded kitchen and improved bathrooms. Natalie says that without the financial help, the club could not have started the community café and continued supporting community functions. ‘The club would face an uncertain future without these additional sources of income,’ she says.

Instead, locals can come to Oratia Bowling Club and enjoy good coffee, great food and banter, and, of course, some fantastic bowls.

Oratia Bowling Club is located at 515 West Coast Road. The OBC Cafe is open Monday to Friday, 8.30-2.30, and Saturday, 9-1. Visit the website or Facebook page for the latest news, including updates on the celebrations planned for the club’s 80th anniversary.