Honours Board

Legend of Bowls North Harbour – Brent Turner

Brent Turner was one of the true giants of Bowls North Harbour, and one of the most naturally gifted exponents of the sport that the centre has ever seen.

His deeds were prodigious over many seasons. He won a swag of centre titles, was for many years an automatic representative selection and a high achiever at national level.

When he died aged 69 after a long battle with cancer in December, 2019, tributes to the man and his achievements poured in not only from within North Harbour but other parts of New Zealand.

Turner finished with a staggering 28 Harbour titles, which could have been more had he not taken a five-year break from the game in 2009-13. His tally has been exceeded only by another Harbour bowling titan in Colin Rogan.

Turner started bowling with the Silverdale club in 1983 and quickly showed his ability and what his friendly rival Rogan described as formidable powers of concentration.

Besides Silverdale, Turner had lengthy stints at the Browns Bay, Orewa and Helensville clubs. At the latter club he formed a powerful four with Pat Robertson, David Game and Ron Cowper. This quartet in 1996-97 performed the notable feat of winning both the centre championship and champion of champions title.

He won the 1993 Masters title and in 1999-2000 the national champion of champion singles and in 2015-16 he teamed with Kerry Chapman, Scott Evans and Rory Soden to win the national pathways fours title.

But his most satisfying success was perhaps being in the North Harbour representative team which in the 2005-06 season won the national inter-centre title. That side included the likes of Rowan Brassey and Danny O’Connor and, of course, Rogan.

Turner’s wife, Rona, also became an accomplished bowler and another proud moment for Turner, almost meaning more for him than his own many successes, was when a few seasons ago she won her fifth centre title to gain her gold star.

Though all of Turner’s illustrious bowls career was with North Harbour, he hailed from a stronghold of the sport, Taranaki, where his parents ran a store in Stratford.

Not surprisingly, either, for one who grew up in Taranaki, his other great sporting passion was rugby, as I soon discovered when he had the privilege once of marking his singles game in a centre championship.

Fully aware that in another life I had written histories on the Ranfurly Shield, Brent ran the risk of disturbing his own concentration and that of the marker, by spending much of the game recalling the great exploits in the 1950s and 60s of Taranaki shield heroes like Ross Brown and Kevin Briscoe.

He was a champion bowler and a memorable character.