Honours Board

Legend of Bowls North Harbour – John Walker 2024

He might be the namesake of one of New Zealand’s most famous track athletes, but whenever the name John Walker is mentioned in North Harbour circles he is immediately recognised in his own right as a sportsman of rare prowess.

Since arriving on the North Shore in the 1980s lawn bowler John Walker has established himself as a true legend of the game and with the Browns Bay Club over the past decade or more he has been an integral part of a particularly outstanding four.

Since 1991, in a career which has seen him associated with two strong clubs, Mairangi Bay and Browns Bay, John has won a staggering 30 centre titles, giving him a fifth bar to his gold star.

Many of these titles have been won with the even more prolific Colin Rogan, and in more recent times several in a four alongside not only Colin but Neil Fisher and Brian Wilson.

Of current players John’s 30 is exceeded only by Colin’s phenomenal tally of 38. And of past players he is ahead by one of those already acclaimed as a legend, the late Brent Turner.

There have also been successes at national level. In 2013 Walker and Rogan were in a triple with Fisher which won the Trusts New Zealand Open at Henderson and a year later in Dunedin Wilson joined them in winning the national pathways fours title.

John first played bowls in Whanganui and came to the game with an excellent background in other sports. He captained the Wanganui, or as it is now known, Whanganui, under 21 representative rugby side and played many seasons for the area’s cricket side at minor representative Hawke Cup level.

In Whanganui he had many associations with that centre’s greatest bowling product, Peter Belliss. Though never in the same club, they met on the green on many occasions in opposing teams and soon after Peter won his world singles title in 1984 John employed him at the bank of which he was manager.

John’s natural ability was soon apparent when he took to bowls and in only his second season he partnered another top Whanganui bowler, Ray Park, to the pairs semi-finals in the national championships in Wellington.

John is celebrated in bowls for his superb draw bowl accuracy, his acute reading of heads, his unruffled demeanour and for the ease in which he fits into a team pattern and dynamic. Of his 30 centre titles none has been in singles, which perhaps underlines why he is so valued and respected by his peers: he is a quintessential team player.