Archive for October, 2021


Sunday, October 31st, 2021

This year is a Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) anniversary. It is 10 years since Sport New Zealand led a coup that saw SNZ convert from a democracy to an oligarchy run by a small group of privileged people. At the time Sport New Zealand offered SNZ members the world. Performances would improve. Participation would climb. With Sport New Zealand in charge dominating the swimming world was just a matter of time.

So, were Sport New Zealand’s promises honoured?  


In the ten years there have been three Olympic Games – London, Rio and Tokyo. The promises of Sport New Zealand have come to nothing. No Olympic medals. In the ten years there have also been two Commonwealth Games – Glasgow and the Gold Coast. New Zealand swimming has won three medals – one Gold and one Silver by Lauren Boyle and one Bronze by Lewis Clareburt.

In the ten years New Zealand’s three best swimmers were Boyle, Clareburt and Fairweather. Ironically all three swimmers had little or nothing to do with the SNZ centralised training program. Boyle learned her trade at West Auckland Aquatics, honed her skills in the United States, spent a short time with SNZ before seeing the light and escaping to Australia. The other two are domestic products of their clubs in Wellington and Dunedin.  

Ten years ago Sport New Zealand lied to us. Performance has been poor.


The second measure of a sporting organisation’s health is participation. Is the membership vibrant and growing? This was where Sport New Zealand said swimming would score big. I remember being told SNZ would soon have more active members than rugby and soccer. So how has that worked out?

I have investigated three membership categories – total membership, competitive swimmers and coaches. The table below shows the 2012 membership number for each category and the current 2021 membership number. The percentage change is also shown

Year Total Members Competitive Coaches
  Number % Change Number % Change Number % Change
2012 22061   6200   560  
2021 16322 Down 26% 4553 Down 26% 200 Down 64%

Would you believe it? In ten years, total membership and competitive membership have gone down by 26%. And the number of coaches has fallen by a staggering 64%. You have to wonder, how did Cotterill and his Board manage those incredible figures?

Sport New Zealand said SNZ would benefit from expert advice from an appointed Board oligarchy. Expert in what, we may well ask. This is how one of the SNZ oligarchs describes herself:

“With a global mind-set, I am motivated by the positive implementation of diversity and inclusion strategies, enhanced through my diverse experiences working internationally; collaborating across different cultures, different workforce contract models, multi-generational workforces, global time-zones and multiple languages builds cultural understanding, appreciation and new strategies to deliver effective and resilient business outcomes.”  

Someone needs to explain to her that a 52 word sentence of introduction is not the best way to achieve results in business. SNZ Board meetings must be a riot if this is the normal standard of their communication. I have probably not achieved the business heights of the author, but I was CEO of quite a large New Zealand public company for several years. Anyone presenting a sentence of 52 words would have been asked to go away and try again.

Anyone presenting a ten-year 26% decline in business would be asked to find another job. Anyone responsible for a personnel turnover of 64% would be asked to add one more to that number.

The numbers speak loud and clear. The last line of the explanation goes something like, “couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery.”


Ten years ago, when Sport New Zealand replaced a democratic, elected structure of government with an unelected oligarchy, SNZ had 6000 more members, 2000 more competitive swimmers and 300 more coaches. These were also the days when Loader, Mosse and Kingsman were winning Olympic medals, when Hurring, Simcic, Jeffs, van Wellie and Langrell were winning Commonwealth medals and when Kent and Bray were winning World Championships.

In order to justify their grab for power, Sport New Zealand said performance and participation would improve. As we have seen, things got far worse. So, what do we need to do? Here is a six point plan.

Action One – Call a Special General Meeting of all the Regions.

Action Two – Pass a motion dismissing the three appointed Board members.

Action Three – Hold an election replacing the appointed members with three new members elected by the Regions.

Action Four – Pass a motion rejecting the current undemocratic constitution.  

Action Five – Instruct the new fully elected 6 member Board (three current and three new) to have a democratic Constitution written for consideration and approval by the Regions within two months.

Action Six – Call a second Special General Meeting in two months to approve and apply the new democratic Constitution.

It is likely Sport New Zealand will react badly to swimming taking back the ownership of its sport. Discussion should make them see that their oligarchy has not worked. What is being proposed is better for the sport. If they fail to recognise that truth and take the step of removing their money, too bad. Swimming can struggle through or consider legal action to have the Courts rule that SNZ’s action is legal and Sport New Zealand should continue with its financial assistance.

Swimming needs to get out from under the authoritarian rule of Sport New Zealand. The culture swimming has at present suffocates progress. For ten years, good and not so good people have tried to make it work and failed. Only when swimming has the liberty of a democratic constitution and returns to managing its own affairs will it realise improved performance and participation. While the structure is flawed, swimming will fail to participate or perform. No matter how good they are Tongue, Johns and Francis cannot beat a Ferrari with their current old banger.     

“Democracy is not compatible with financial oligarchy.” ― Che Guevara


Saturday, October 30th, 2021

Quote, “Let’s not forget that every Sophie Pascoe, Lewis Clareburt and Erika Fairweather has emerged from a local swimming club programme with an attendant community of care and three different coaches with innovation and fire in their bellies.”

The deception, the deceit, the dishonesty, the double-dealing and naked corruption that goes on in life is truly stunning. Swimming New Zealand (SNZ), stand up and take a bow.

Excuse my frustration. Please understand that for 25 years I pushed and pleaded with SNZ to understand that “every Sophie Pascoe, Lewis Clareburt and Erika Fairweather has emerged from a local swimming club programme with an attendant community of care and three different coaches with innovation and fire in their bellies.” I begged Bruce Cotterill to recognise that his obsession with centralised training flew in the face of that very principle. And what did I get in return. I got insults. I was refused entry to National Championships. My support for decentralised training was negatively torn apart in several SNZ Annual Reports. For example, the President of SNZ said this about me in his 2015 Annual Report.

“The credibility the opinions of these bloggers deserve is clear; absolutely none.”

For saying over and over again exactly what Dave Gerrard has said in the 2021 Annual Report I was informed I had absolutely no credibility. I wonder if Brent Layton and Bruce Cotterill have the same view of Dave Gerrard’s credibility. They are the ones who have changed – not me.

The problem with that sort of rank dishonesty is that it undermines SNZ’s credibility. It hurts an honourable sport. One minute Layton, Cotterill and Gerrard are all pumped up about their wonderful new high-performance coach and his (because it always was a male) pool of future Olympic stars. One minute they are tearing me apart for suggesting their pool of dreams is fatally flawed. Then they turn around and without the slightest hesitation or embarrassment embrace all that they have denied for 25 years. Bloody unbelievable.

I’m no great religious zealot. However, a verse in 1Corrintheans 13-12 does come to mind. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Well now, face to face, we know. The three of them were wrong and must accept responsibility for the $26million they spent chasing a fool’s errand. Their legacy is one of enormous harm. For Gerrard to turn around, like some carpet-bagger salesman, and sell that which SNZ opposed for so long is stunning hypocrisy. The truth would benefit his legacy. Although perhaps the lie is more accurate.

When SNZ abandoned the centralised training program, in my opinion, Bruce Cotterill was no more honest than Dave Gerrard. Cotterill blamed the failure and the lost $26million on HPSNZ. No suggestion that the policy was wrong. In 2017 he said this.

“We have also suffered a significant reduction in funding from High Performance Sport NZ which in turn led to the disestablishment of two senior roles within the High Performance team.”

No mention of his barren policy. No mention of those whose advice he had ignored. No mention of the swimmers left high and dry. No mention of those who lost their careers believing SNZ’s promises. No mention of the wasted millions. Just two staff members no longer employed. I don’t know what you think but I doubt that could be considered honest reporting to the membership. It is a blight on the Regions that no one at the AGM asked Cotterill and Gerrard to explain the loss of swimming lives and member’s money.  

Even a year later Cotterill’s explanation got no better. In 2018 he told the members this.

“As we started to recover from the changes in the High Performance team, brought on by the reduction in funding from High Performance Sport in late 2016 and set about implementing the new High Performance strategy that was approved by the board in late 2017.”

That’s the thing with people like Cotterill. It is always someone else’s fault. I can’t help but think the members of SNZ witnessed an example of mushroom management at its best. Through 2016 and 2017, “keep them in the dark and feed them shit” was the way to go. Cotterill proved to be an expert at growing fungi. Just as sadly the SNZ regions were a silent audience.

Three years later, the fungi had grown, the crop had been picked, the shit had been put away, and a fresh mushroom stew was about to be served. And Gerrard comes along and says the feast was SNZ’s plan all along. Well excuse me for thinking the three stooges may have been on the same diet as the mushrooms. It sure looks that way.


Friday, October 29th, 2021

Why is it that some Australians can’t help but bend the rules? Not all, but certainly more than in New Zealand. Take America’s Cup sailors Burling and Spithill. Talk about good cop, bad cop. Spithill can’t help himself. He wears his harsh Australian aggression like a sporting badge of honour. And of course, it was the Australians who bowled underarm to win a cricket game. In the same sport players spent more time “roughing” the ball with a strip of yellow sandpaper than they did playing the game. The list of major sports controversies concerning Australian sportspeople covers areas such as rules, match fixing, cheating, sportsmanship, doping and sport administration. They have generated large scale media coverage and have affected the integrity of sport.

Perhaps the players are taking their lead from the country’s political masters. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is either so crooked he couldn’t lie straight in bed or he’s as thick as a post. He has just announced Australia must show “a little bit of flexibility” around the vaccination status of international arrivals, opening the door for unvaccinated tennis stars to play at Melbourne’s Australian Open in January. Truth is Morrison wants to have his ego massaged by having tennis narcissist, Djokovic, flaunt his mindless and dangerous health opinions on Australians. Morrison is on a mission to sell his “learn to live with COVID-19” theory. If a tennis player can help, who cares if another 500 Australians die. Not Morrison it seems.

Fortunately, the State of Victoria intends to continue with its mandatory vaccination policy. At this stage it looks like Morrison will be able to welcome Djokovic to Canberra but will not be able to farewell him on a flight south to Melbourne. It will be interesting to see who wins – a crazy Australian Prime Minister and his Serbian tennis mate or a scientifically responsible State Premier.  

Mind you New Zealand has two loudmouthed ego driven lunatics that match Morrison. I’m sure most Swimwatch readers will know I am pointing at Mike Hosking and Heather du Plessis-Allan.

 du Plessis-Allan is simply not the sort of person New Zealand wants or needs. You would think someone born in South Africa to a South African mother would know better than to call the Pacific Islands leeches. You would also think that someone from a racist country ironically run by the National Party who removed South African citizenship from all non-white people would know better than to write below a picture of Jacinda Ardern and an Australian/New Zealand woman rejected by Australia, “Should we revoke jihadi citizenship first.” With hand on heart I would rather New Zealand took care of the woman in the photograph than suffer du Plessis-Allan’s poison.

In 1945, Jan Smuts, the Prime Minister of du Plessis-Allan’s place of birth said, “There needs to be a fixed policy to maintain white supremacy, to maintain white civilisation and keep the white race pure”. My guess is du Plessis-Allan would endorse that view especially when it refers to “leeches” from the Pacific or a homeless New Zealand woman wearing a burka.   

The other loudmouth New Zealand could do without is Michael Noel James Hosking IV. In my opinion he is vile. My school had several arrogant assholes in the Hosking mould. My guess is that while the rest of us were passing exams, heading off to university and training for swimming, cross country or some kind of football, Hosking was preening himself hopelessly around Linwood High School.

By 16 Linwood had taught him all that it could, and he left school. The academic world hadn’t worked. And every day his radio programme demonstrates why. His lack of logic is stunning. This week he has ripped into Jacinda Ardern for staying in Wellington during the COVID lockdown. He says she is frightened of answering questions from parliamentary journalist Barry Soper. The huge irony in that is, two months ago I signed up with the Facebook Mike Hosking fan club page. Two or three days later I politely asked for an explanation of something Hosking had said on the radio. The following morning, I was banned from the Facebook page.  

Ever since Jacinda kicked him into touch Hosking’s attacks on her have spiralled out of control. Clearly her decision savaged his fragile ego. A blowfly in a bottle doesn’t get close.

But of real concern, as it is with du Plessis-Allan, is their racist overtones. Complaints have been made to the Broadcasting Standards Authority about Hosking on several occasions. For example, the Mayor of New Plymouth lost a case alleging racism. The Māori Party won a case after Hosking told his radio audience, “You can’t vote for the Māori Party because you’re not enrolled in the Māori electorate”. That was not true.

However, no matter the disgust we might feel for du Plessis-Allan and Hosking it is unlikely either will be fired and shipped off to Australia. You see their boss is Barry Soper, du Plessis-Allan’s husband. He probably knows that although both would fit right into the Australian environment neither is good enough to succeed in journalism there. They would have a fan in Scott Morrison though. Small minds think alike.      


Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

All too often New Zealand commentators make the case that with more money New Zealand could improve its Olympic results. For 25 years I have disputed that argument. High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) spends more than $60million every year on handouts to dozens of sports. There is plenty of money. What it is spent on is the problem.

So, how much did each medal at Tokyo cost the country. Well, it depends on how you work the numbers. There are three options.

Option One

Eleven sports won 20 medals in Tokyo. (7 Gold, 6 Silver and 7 Bronze) HPSNZ paid the eleven sports approximately $24million each year in grants leading up to the competition. On average each medal cost $1.2million. Significantly, the most expensive medals were cycling’s two silvers that cost $2.5million each. The cheapest was the one bronze medal in boxing.  

Option Two

In addition to the 11 sports that won medals there were 10 other sports who went to the Games, received HPSNZ funding, but didn’t win any medals. Swimming for example held its hand out for $800k and came home with nothing. If the grants given to these 10 sports are added to the cost per medal calculation, then the average cost per medal jumps to $2.0million.

Option Three

In addition to the 21 sports that went to the Games, there are many others who did not attend but did receive HPSNZ money. If the grants given to all sports are added to the cost per medal calculation, then the average cost per medal jumps to $3.0million.


And so, what we can say is that each Tokyo Olympic medal cost New Zealand between $1.2million and $2.0million. No one can tell me that is not enough money. Especially when New Zealand is spending more per medal than Australia and the United States.  

It is a huge sum, so big in fact it begs the question – what on earth is it being spent on?

As sure as God made little green apples it didn’t go to those who won the medals. The share paid to the workers by New Zealand sport would never be accepted on a Fletcher’s building site or AFFCO meat factory. For example, HPSNZ paid Canoeing New Zealand $820k for each of Lisa Carrington’s Gold medals. Lisa Carrington and K2 companion, Caitlin Regal, received $60k each. But their pay came from a separate HPSNZ pot. So that does not explain the pile of money ($2.5million) that went somewhere else.

And in that mystery lies a huge dark problem for sport in New Zealand. A mystery that in my opinion has caused the loss to New Zealand of tennis player Norrie, that caused Boyle to leave New Zealand to train in Australia and was at the heart of the death of cyclist, Podmore.

Bureaucrats in dozens of Millennium offices had too much money, too many staff and too much power. Their bloated HPSNZ funded lifestyles depended on the toil of Carrington, Norrie, Boyle and Podmore. The pressure to perform was not so Boyle or Carrington could win or even be paid. The pressure to perform was to secure Swimming New Zealand and Canoeing New Zealand their next HPSNZ grant – to keep their sporting masters in the inflated lifestyles that are now normal in New Zealand sport.

When the pressure to keep their sports afloat got too much Norrie went to the UK, Boyle went to Australia and Podmore could not see any way out. And all that is not a problem of not enough money. We have shown there is plenty of money. The problem is the owners of the swimming, cycling and tennis coal mines squeezing young New Zealanders for more and more and more. HPSNZ can pay for all the psychological therapy available. But when the pressure to perform so that your masters can be paid is perceived to be true, it is true in its consequences. Consequences that are always damaging and occasionally fatal.


Monday, October 25th, 2021

The problem with much of the media reporting of issues affecting sport in New Zealand is what they report is rubbish. The impression is that most sport’s reporters got as far as their high school first-15 or first netball team and failed to make the grade in open competition. And so, they decided to write about it instead. I suspect the Ruapehu College yearbook was the first recipient of their sporting wisdom. Things have not improved since.

For example, I have just read a Stuff report written by Marvin France. He discusses the success of Cameron Norrie. As you may know Norrie learned his tennis in New Zealand but in 2013 left to play for the United Kingdom. He has recently won the Indian Wells Masters, otherwise known as tennis’ “fifth major”. Norrie is another one that got away. France discusses how Tennis New Zealand (TNZ) let this happen and what should have been done to avoid the loss.

France’s misunderstanding of New Zealand sport is demonstrated early. His third paragraph says:

“But the 26-year-old could have easily been flying the Kiwi flag had he received more support by those running Tennis NZ”

No, no, no – the problem is not that Norrie needed more support from TNZ. Norrie’s problem was that he had too much “support”. So much in fact that it shifted from support to interference. Time has proven that Norrie, his parents, and a Tennis Auckland coach called Greenhalgh knew exactly what Norrie needed but TNZ had to interfere.

It is the Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) story all over again. For example, instead of letting Lauren Boyle and Coach Mark Regan get on with her career, SNZ insisted she change coach to David Lyles. That was not a case of needing more support. That was interference. In desperation Boyle fled to Australia. Ironically Steve Johns was the boss of TNZ when Norrie left from Auckland Airport and is the current boss of SNZ. Johns was reported to have said about his time at TNZ, “I am proud of what I have achieved during my time at Tennis NZ.”

As things have turned out those achievements now include losing the sport’s best asset. Not that the loss of Norrie was Johns’ fault. He was the one responsible for implementing policies imposed by Peter Miskimmin and, in the case of SNZ, Bruce Cotterill. And in tennis those policies involved interfering in Norrie’s career – a subject at which Miskimmin’s policies proved amazingly inept.

The same policies caused Boyle to leave. The same policies, in my opinion, caused the death of a fine New Zealand cyclist. Norrie, Boyle and Podmore – how bad does the destruction have to get before Sport New Zealand understands its crimes against New Zealand sport. What the East Germans did with a needle, High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) does with a cheque book.    

So, what should TNZ have done?

TNZ should have gone along with Norrie’s plans. Their job was to facilitate what Norrie, his parents and Coach Greenhalgh wanted. It was not for TNZ to plan, implement or control Norrie’s progress. Norrie was ranked No.10 junior in the world. He had shown that those around him knew what they were doing. Steve Johns’ job was to find out what Norrie wanted and help him get it. If it was a Big Mac for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Johns’ car should have had McDonalds as it first daily stop.

But oh no, the guy is 10th junior in the world and Miskimmin’s policies enabled some arrogant jerk in TNZ to tell Norrie he would never be any good. Bloody unbelievable. I just hope Steve Johns and his SNZ Board have learned their lesson. The last thing Clareburt and Hollywood and Fairweather and Humer need is more interference from SNZ. They have more than proven they know what they are doing. SNZ’s job is to find out what the four of them want. Get it for them and then get well out of their way. The less SNZ get involved, the better everyone will be.

At the conclusion of France’s article Norrie’s father, David says: “Unless there is a significant funding boost, David Norrie does not see it getting any easier.” I disagree with that. Money is not the problem. SNZ had $26million and won nothing. It is how you spend the money that matters. And for the answer to that do not ask Steve Johns or Gary Francis. Give Holywood or Clareburt or Humer or Fairweather a call. They might need a Big Mac. But whatever they want has nothing to do with SNZ. Just get into your car and go get it for them.