Swimming New Zealand’s (SNZ) website explains the plan for their invasion into learn to swim. Here is what SNZ say.

To enable the expansion of its education training programmes currently being provided, the Board is working with a third party on a proposed purchase of an established aquatic training provider, currently a limited liability company, that will position Swimming NZ as a lead provider of aquatic education to NZQA unit standards.

My guess is that the “aquatics training provider” SNZ are hell bent on buying is both the Millennium Institute Swim School and management of the two Millennium aquatic centre pools. In fact, I’d be prepared to bet any Swimwatch reader a cup of Wholefood coffee that’s their planned targets. That’s why SNZ need to cover pool management and learn to swim in their proposed changes to the constitution.

Here, as a reminder, is what the two AGM motions say.  

Motion 5: To promote the safety and cleanliness of swimming pools and waterways in which our Members swim.

Motion 6: To own and operate commercial ventures which further the Object

And so, having determined that SNZ want to own the Millennium Swim School and manage the two aquatic centres, what happens next? The following points are of interest.

  1. What will SNZ do with two pools and a learn to swim school?
  2. Is it legal or does the SNZ plan run afoul of Charities tax rules?
  3. Will it be successful?

What will SNZ do with two pools and a learn to swim school?

You can bet SNZ will have more in mind than being the proud owner of a North Shore swim school and a couple of swimming pools. There is more to it than that. There is a hint in SNZ’s description of their plans. They say:

lead provider of aquatic education to NZQA unit standards

There you have it. SNZ’s plan is to take over the swim school and impose the Australian method of teaching on NZ learn to swim. SNZ will then obtain Government approval for their Australian programme to be the only qualification authority approved method. SNZ will order every swim school in the country to use only SNZ’s Australian method and charge every NZ learn to swim provider an annual fee for NZQA registration. Now we are talking real money. Antares Place offices can expand – maybe a dining room and kitchen. Company cars – who knows, maybe a Porsche SUV.  

I don’t know how many swim schools there are in New Zealand. There are about 1300 school pools plus 159 clubs plus some smaller schools. The total could be close to 2000. Just think 2000 swim schools at $500 per year. That’s $1,000,000 a year. Shelve the Porsche – SNZ will take the Bentley.

In the meantime, swim schools across the country that have operated to very high standards for many years are being shoehorned into a SNZ/Australian curriculum and forced to pay SNZ $1,000,000 a year, for an Australian programme that is probably not as good as the one they had in the first place.

The problem is SNZ are about to destroy, for a second time, the variety that is such a strength of New Zealand swimming. Take the following examples.

My own background in learn to swim is based on the American Red Cross method. That programme has taught many more millions of children to swim than the Australians. But SNZ would refuse my application for registration.

The Waterhole Swim Club has probably taught more New Zealanders to swim than any other organisation in the country. For hours I have watched them brilliantly teach children to swim. They have their own unique method. But without change SNZ would refuse their application for registration.

For years Duncan Laing ran a huge swim school in Dunedin. He had very distinct and personal methods. SNZ would have refused his application for registration. Not that I think Duncan would have cared.

For years my brother ran what was then New Zealand’s largest swim school with about 1900 lessons a week. Before deciding on a programme for Wellington he looked at the Australian programme and those used by Judith Wright and Hilton Brown. He ended up using a mix of the Judith and Hilton methods. SNZ would have refused his application for registration.

Very few people know as much about swimming as Margaret McRae who runs a swim school in Mairangi Bay. I have not seen her programme, but I bet it is good and unique. SNZ would probably refuse her application for registration.

A swim school in Dunedin taught my daughter to swim. They certainly did not use the Australian method, but Jane got her 800-meter certificate when she was THREE. SNZ would refuse their application for registration.

I’m sure you get the point. There are many good ways of teaching learn to swim besides the Australian model. Hilton Brown, Margaret McCrae, Judith Wright, Gwen Ryan, the Millennium Swim School, Donna Bouzaid, Jon Winter, Sue Southgate, Trevor Nichols, William Benson, Dave Pratley, Gary Martin, Greg Meade, Liz van Wellie, Mark Bone, Brett Naylor and dozens of others certainly do not need to be told by SNZ or the Australians how to teach someone to swim. They also don’t need to pay SNZ $1,000,000 a year for some useless advice.

I suspect SNZ have their eyes on pulling the same stunt with the care and registration of swimming pools.

That might not be exactly what SNZ have their eyes on. But it is not too far away. How do I know. Because it is exactly what they tried in competitive swimming – and failed.    

Is it legal or does the SNZ plan run afoul of Charities tax rules?

There is a huge question mark over whether these SNZ plans are legal. Will they result in SNZ losing its charitable status? I will ask the IRD to check that out. But right now, I suspect there is serious cause for concern.

SNZ came close to losing its certification as a charity a few years ago when the IRD said the way SNZ ran their high-performance programme was not a charitable purpose.   

The key question in determining an organisation’s charitable status is: does the activity benefit a charitable purpose? In the case of what is being proposed here, that is the purchase of the Millennium Swim School and management of both the Millennium pools, I do not see any chance of the IRD accepting that as benefitting a charitable purpose. I will ask the IRD to decide but here is my point of view.

This is what the IRD says and is where SNZ will struggle to meet the IRD test.

Under section CW 42 a tax charity is exempt from income tax on business income it derives either directly or indirectly so long as that income is applied to charitable purposes.

If SNZ buys into the Millennium Swim School and assumes management of the two Millennium pools the income SNZ earns will be derived by SNZ indirectly. But that is okay. That is allowed.

But the next clause says, “so long as that income is applied to charitable purposes.” SNZ are not going to be able to show that. Income from the swim school and the pool management is not going to be used by SNZ to benefit its charitable purposes – not in a hundred years. That income is going to be used

  1. To further grow the pool and swim school registration business, neither of which are charitable. That is not allowed.  
  2. To pay for the Antares Place wages, cars and lifestyle which are only 35% paid for by SNZ right now. And that also is not a charitable purpose. That is a benefit to those who can direct the money earned by the swim school and pools. And that is specifically not allowed. Here is how the IRD put it, “no person with some control over the business activities of the charity is able to direct or divert income derived from the business to their benefit or advantage.”
  3. Not one cent will see its way to anything resembling a charitable purpose. Are you kidding me? The only charity SNZ have ever helped is themselves. There is no way SNZ can satisfy the IRD’s test of applying the money earned from this invasion into pool management and lean to swim registration to a charitable purpose. They have never done it before. They are not going to do it now.

But we will see. My question to the IRD has been submitted. Its number is 1-115-274-464. We will see what the IRD have to say and let you know.     

Will SNZ be successful?


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