For any readers who ever have cause to require a “judicial” decision in a case involving sport, avoid the institutions established by New Zealand sport for that purpose. They are shamelessly bought, paid for, controlled and manipulated by Sport New Zealand for ends that only benefit Sport New Zealand. Stay well away.

The sort of kangaroo courts I mean are listed below.

  1. Any internal, “independent” inquiry. By their very nature these are never independent. Sport New Zealand pays for the QCs they always hire, and the findings are invariably what Sport New Zealand wants to hear. If you want an unbiased, honest opinion a Sport New Zealand “independent” inquiry is the last place to look. I’m sure he will excuse me for saying this, but this is the mistake Alan Thompson made. He trusted that the sharks at Canoe Racing New Zealand and Sport New Zealand were capable of honestly policing themselves. Fat chance of that. My guess is Olivia Podmore thought the same thing about cycling. And that didn’t turn out so well. Make no contribution, because if Sport New Zealand don’t like your views, they will simply file them in the plastic bucket below their desk. I have made a dozen contributions to these inquiries and always receive the same reply. It says something like, “Thank you for your valuable contribution. It is important. We will be in contact in the next three days to discuss.” In 20 years, I’m still waiting.
  2. An independent Sport New Zealand inquiry is a barren place to find justice. But the futility of complaining to the sport’s internal complaint service is beyond belief. A few years ago, I filed a complaint with the Bruce Cotterill led Swimming New Zealand (SNZ). A senior New Zealand swimmer had filmed a national champion coached by me getting changed in the female changing rooms and posted the topless photos on Instagram. I had a screenshot of the topless image and filed it and the complaint with SNZ. I knew the photographer was a SNZ favourite but her publication of a half-dressed swimmer getting changed was a step too far. But I was wrong. Three weeks went by without a reply. Finally, I wrote to SNZ and asked whether they had made a decision. This is a copy of the SNZ reply.

Hello David,

The matter in question was investigated following the NZ Open Championships. xxxxx responded to Swimming NZ queries by 12 April and matter was subsequently closed on 15 April. Kind regards, Christian Renford

It is not unreasonable to conclude that if photographing topless female swimmers getting changed at the National Championships and posting the photo on Instagram together with the comment “Dirty bitch” is not an event worthy of sanction, it is difficult to imagine what event would count as “Membership Protection”. The moral is, leave the complaint procedures of individual sports well alone.  

  • Two specialist bodies have been established to handle complaints about sport – The Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service (SRCMS) and the New Zealand Sports Tribunal (NZST). I have never used either organisation but suspect they better reflect the standards that apply in courts and outside tribunals such as the Human Rights Review Tribunal. However, both are part of sport rather that justice and therefore are open to the influence of Raelene Castle and her mates. The experience of Rugby in Australia, Cycling, Swimming, Rowing and Canoe Racing point to serious shortcomings. For example, Sport New Zealand loves to keep their disputes in house and “confidential”.  Both the SRCMS and NZST are far more inclined to hide names and events than the normal justice system. Justice behind closed door is usually justice denied. In the case of a 2010 decision, the Court of Appeal explicitly recognised that, “Without the commitment of an independent media the operation of the principle of open justice would be irremediably diminished.” As far as I am concerned the secrecy and vulnerability to manipulation present in both the SRCMS and NZST are not worth the risk. The “normal” justice system is open to all New Zealanders. My suggestion would be to use it.

It is interesting that I have never heard of an enquiry case or an NSO case or a SRCMS or NZST case being decided against Sport New Zealand. No wonder Raelene Castle loves those avenues. She is playing justice roulette with a wheel of 100% black numbers. Normal Department of Justice institutions do not provide her with that certainty. And that is why I would recommend that anyone involved in sport take their case to the Courts or a Department of Justice Tribunal. A lady with a blindfold, a pair of scales and a sword dispenses justice there. And her name is most certainly not Raelene Castle.

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