Renford Takes The Piss

By David

Swimming New Zealand has just excelled itself. It would be hard to find a better example anywhere of bad taste, deception and hypocritical insincerity. On their website SNZ has just made the following announcement.


17th July 2013

We want as many people as possible to show their appreciation for the Sport Makers, who literally make sport happen, by sending them a thank you e-card available here.  Sport Makers who receive a thank you e-card can enter a monthly draw to win $500 worth of sports merchandise for them or their club.  Nationally there will be 34 winners a month, with at least one winner from each RST region. The ‘Thank a Sport Maker’ campaign is part of a partnership involving the Lotto Volunteer Foundation, RSTs and Sport NZ.  It will see sport volunteers sharing in over $1 million of quality clothing and sports gear over the next three years.

I’m sure many readers will be thinking that sounds really good. Swimming New Zealand is getting behind its volunteer army; thanking them for “literally making the sport happen”. And if that was all there was to this story then SNZ’s call to arms would indeed be admirable. But alas, there is more.

For some reason the new open Swimming New Zealand no longer publish Board Minutes on their website. Not only that, the Minutes of Board Meetings before the Miskimmin revolution have been removed from the website. The whole thing reminds me of a week I spent in Moscow during the Soviet era. Our guide refused to discuss anything that happened in Russia prior to the revolution. The Tzars? What Tzars? It seems like the new Swimming New Zealand has also “sanitized” the organization’s history.

I’ve always been a bit suspicious of “public” organizations that make deals in secret – the Millennium Institute behind closed doors. What do Layton and Renford have to hide? What is it that the membership is not allowed to know? The new Swimming New Zealand is clearly an organization where the members will only be told a Layton and Renford sterile version of how the business is being managed.

However one resolution Swimming New Zealand did pass recently and did publish was the decision to start charging administrators and officials an annual membership fee. In fact that rapacious decision was one of the first decisions of the Layton, Renford era. This is how the Swimming New Zealand website describes the new owner’s decision to financially rip-off those “who literally make sport happen”.


The following shall be the Members of SNZ

Regionally or higher qualified inspectors of turns, officials and nationally or higher qualified time keepers. The board shall set criteria and fees for any new classes of membership. These fees are detailed below. Affiliation fees are set annually by the SNZ Board however the board has confirmed that the fees detailed below will apply for 2013/14 and 2014/15.

Fee type


SNZ fee


Regional fee


Total fee


Technical official








I imagine there are few readers unaware of what I am about to say. On the one hand the wonderful organization that is Swimming New Zealand says that they “want as many people as possible to show their appreciation for the Sport Makers, who literally make sport happen, by sending them a thank you e-card.” And on the other hand Swimming New Zealand sends the organization’s thank you card out in the form of a new, unprecedented annual membership invoice. It certainly is a new way to thank volunteers – charge them a fee for volunteering their time.

If Swimming New Zealand is so concerned about showing their “appreciation for the Sport Makers” perhaps they should start by dropping their usury fee. And all swimming’s Sport Makers should consider whether holding on to their $15 but continuing to work at swim meets may be in the best interests of the sport they have served for a very long time. Just don’t pay the fee until Layton and Renford realize the immorality of their decision and drop the whole thing.

Thanking volunteers with an e-card and charging then a membership fee; the whole thing is typical of a morally bankrupt and desperate organization. Anyone capable of that con is capable of anything. In New Zealand I’ve been fortunate enough to know some fine administrators; men and women of impeccable integrity. Beth Meade, Jill Vernon, Jo and Allen Draisey, Tony Cooper – the list is huge. The very thought that these men and women should be charged for what they willingly do or did is repugnant beyond belief. Sending them an e-card just compounds the travesty.

Numerous people involved in swimming have said Swimming New Zealand’s new bosses should be given a chance to prove themselves. Renford, they say seems like a nice guy. That could very well be true. Layton and Renford may be the most personable characters you could ever want to meet. However it counts for nothing when they represent and stand behind decisions like this one. While that sort of behaviour is typical of their management they will get no support from this website. Human history is littered with example of good people doing some very bad things. Motivated by greed or fear or servitude or misplaced loyalty they betray their judgement and sanction scandalous behaviour. The decision to charge swimming volunteers a membership fee is fairly described as scandalous behaviour. The decision to then thank them with an e-card is worse – perhaps offensive disrespect gets close.

  • Interested

    I don’t know how anyone can think it’s OK to charge volunteers. I was a timekeeper for years in Auckland and actually enjoyed having something to do rather than stress about my child’s swimming, but they could go whistle for me to pay for the privilege of doing it.

    I agree that although it may seem a small thing to the powers that be it reveals a lot about the atmosphere and morals of the SNZ leaders.