Excellence, Integrity, Accountability

By David

These three words conclude each item of correspondence coming from Miskimmin’s new Swimming New Zealand. Their use was ordered by Christian Renford, the Australian appointed to be CEO of the new Swimming New Zealand. In the past few weeks Swimwatch has highlighted behaviour that makes a mockery of any association excellence, integrity and accountability might have with the new Swimming New Zealand. For example:

  1. The courting of Auckland’s Brian Palmer when Miskimmin needed Palmer’s support. Followed by Moller’s public demand for his resignation once power had been secured. Happily Miskimmin and Moller failed. Brian’s involvement with swimming in Auckland continued until he resigned for sporting challenges elsewhere. (Incidentally and way off the point of this story, Today I heard Brian’s daughter sing the National Anthem at the Auckland Open Championships. It was a privilege – she’s brilliant.)
  2. The manipulation of badly worded selection criteria.
  3. The imposition of substantial price increases way outside the rules of the organization.
  4. The refusal to promptly acknowledge the danger and illegality of using the Kilbirnie pool’s shallow end.

But all that appears trivial in comparison to some of the stuff that has come my way in recent weeks. I could have written about these events sooner but wanted to check the facts, as far as is possible, before posting them on the internet. What I plan to do in this post is summarize five items of Swimming New Zealand and/or Wellington Region behaviour. In five future posts I will then consider each example in detail including the emails and meeting minutes that support the stories. And so here is the list of five events.


The negotiations that went on to absorb the Wairarapa Swimming Region into the Wellington Region were led by a guy called Sam Rossiter-Stead. It seems that the Wellington Region of Miskimmin’s new Swimming New Zealand may be an ideal home for this character. The amalgamation he directed appears to have been beset by intrigue, deception and broken promises. For example in May 2013 not everyone in the Wairarapa wanted to see their Region disappear into a greater Wellington Region. Mr Rossiter-Stead was having trouble delivering Wairarapa to the Wellington Board. And so on 9th May 2013 at 9.34pm he wrote an email and distributed it to most members of the Wairarapa Region. This is a summary of what the Rossiter-Stead email said:

I have been on the receiving end of a series of crank phone calls. I have been working with the police to identify the culprit and have given them a list of members to check out. They have approved me sending out this email, but have asked not to disclose any more information about the nature of the calls.

Rossiter-Stead’s email triggered suspicion and division in the Wairarapa. It was taken to the police for verification. Quite stunningly Masterton Police reported that no complaint had been laid. There was no investigation and the police would never encourage anyone to send out such an inflammatory email. It would be interesting to hear Sam Rossiter-Stead’s side of this story. Surely the Wairarapa Region was not conned out of existence by an “orchestrated litany of” SNZ porkies. Having delivered the Wairarapa jewel, Sam Rossiter-Stead now sits on the Board of the Wellington Region. Reward, perhaps, for a job well done?


Swimming Wellington really does need to confirm or deny the validity of this story. Because if it’s true then someone should appear before the Sport’s Tribunal to be tried and if guilty banned from the sport for life. Some time ago I received the following email:

In February 2013 Swim Wellington administration uploaded a Wairarapa swimming club meet to Take Your Marks database that was fictitious and never signed off by the region’s Chief Technical Officer.  This fictitious meet provided a swimmer with a national age group time.  The issue was raised by the Chief Technical Officer for the region with both Swim Wellington and SNZ to which no response was given and the meet and the time stood.

If this is true, the efforts of every honest swimmer are put at risk. The validity of the Take Your Marks website is savagely compromised. It is disgusting that Miskimmin’s new Swimming New Zealand has not even replied to a complaint from the Wairarapa Region. Perhaps fictitious meets and padded resumes are not a problem in the new Swimming New Zealand. Their inaction places a question mark over the fitness of the new Swimming New Zealand to control a “data base” of member’s private details. The whole swimming “data base” project should be stopped until the organization’s actions in this case are examined. Certainly the alleged dishonesty demands caution until a full investigation is completed.


During the negotiations to absorb Wairarapa into the Wellington Region their appears to have been unseemly haste to get Wellington or Swimming New Zealand or some ones hands on Wairarapa’s money. Email correspondence gives the impression that for some, building an empire was more important than the welfare of Wairarapa’s swimmers. For example the tone of the discussion between Wairarapa officials and the pro-Wellington lobby deteriorated into this sort of email comment. “Your email has unfortunately brought further embarrassment at a time when we are trying to rebuild our credibility following the unsavoury issues which have arisen during the last few months. In order to maintain the integrity of our organisation it is critical that you understand that you have no authority to make any further requests for payment or to pay any invoices.”

The tone of this comment made to men and women who for years have toiled in the service of a small New Zealand swimming region is unnecessary, bad mannered and insulting. The author should be ashamed. Anyway back to the money.

The Wairarapa Region had $24,000; $10,000 in a life member’s Wairarapa Building Society deposit account, $10,000 in a short term Masterton West Pac deposit account and $4,000 in a Masterton West Pac current account. I doubt there is a money person alive who does not know that changing signatories requires the approval of the old signatories. Instead of getting that approval, I have been told, that Sam Rossiter-Stead and two others turned up at the West Pac Cuba Street Branch in Wellington with a suspect set of Wairarapa AGM Minutes asking for the signatories to be changed. Westpac of course are far too professional to hand over control of $14,000 to three dudes off the street with some photocopied minutes. They were told to go back to Westpac in the Wairarapa and sort out the proper procedure. The moral here of course is “Regions Beware”. The Wairarapa experience suggests that Miskimmin’s new Swimming New Zealand might have getting the keys to your region’s bank accounts as its top priority. In a Governance Committee meeting on 16 June 2013 Swimming New Zealand is reported to have said, “Opportunity for others to follow. Other Regions could take lead with this project.”


In the end, a Special General Meeting was called and the signatories were changed. But, what has happened to Wairarapa’s $24,000? I have just heard that the $10,000 life member’s fund has been distributed to four Wairarapa clubs. So far, so good. However no one I’ve spoken to seems to know where the balance of $14,000 has ended up. Someone suggested Wellington should be paid a “goodwill” amount. Others wanted this sum to also be distributed to the Wairarapa clubs. But the two clubs I’ve spoken to haven’t received a penny. So where is the $14,000? Was it paid to the Wellington Region? Was the “loyalty” of the Masterton Club rewarded while others missed out? Who knows? As SNZ have said, the mystery of it all should act as a lead. A lead to stay well away from the tangled web that has beset the good people of the Wairarapa.


A feature that characterises all authoritarian regimes is their effort to manipulate and control public opinion. Those that get away with bad stuff don’t want the world to know. Perhaps Miskimmin’s new Swimming New Zealand has something to hide. Certainly this story suggests they are into manipulating the opinion of their members.

One Wellington swimming club includes Swimwatch on the “Links” page of its club website. A few months ago a representative of Wellington Swimming attended the Club’s monthly Board meeting. The principle purpose of the visit was to demand the club remove the Swimwatch link. It appears Wellington Swimming was running scared; unaware of Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights. For their education this is what it says; “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

I am delighted to report that the Club’s committee was both unafraid and aware of their human rights. They told the Wellington Region’s representative to take a hike. I really am not concerned about whether Swimwatch appears on a club’s link page or not. I am however very concerned about defending the right of anyone to access whatever relevant information and opinions they want. Wellington’s behavior is why Moller’s constitution is so dangerous. On this occasion Wellington failed. It will not stop them trying again. It will not stop their boundless quest for uncontested power.

I doubt there is a Swimwatch reader who isn’t wondering how possibly fake reports of crank phone calls, apparently fictitious swim meets and a lolly-scramble to get hold of Wairarapa’s money match up with Renford’s brag of excellence integrity and accountability. But, as you will know, they don’t – and that of course is the point.

  • Saddended Mangtinoka

    wicked – sounds like some devious stuff eh.
    Checking out the comments you were making about Wellington Human Rights I came across the Wairarapa SGM minutes on their www for all to read – Seems you’re outa touch or those UFOs really did land and it was all covered up.
    Minutes record Clubs supporting the change and that they had no officers elected at the previous AGM- ie were defunct, not operating. None of the Club members apparently wanted a bar of having the region – they’d all walked sometime ago. Not operating, in recess or whatever. Clubs look like they were stuck in limboland with no region. (ha makes you wonder if we need regions!) Makes me wonder what chief technical officer it was you refer to given…they didn’t seem to have one! Got a name so perhaps it can be followed up at the sports tribunal as you say…. but then if you did you would have eh….Be the biggest thing that ever hit sport down there since Collin Meads. Was it an Olympian?
    Says in minutes that Life Members decide on the funds… so different to what you say?
    I guess what I took from the minutes is if a region has no officers, Clubs all vote to wind it up even life members seemed happy in the minutes then… bit confused on what it is that the story is all about – an Olympian at the Tui Brewery in Mangatinoka manipulating an age group time or Article 19 Human Rights? YES – that’s why the Tui billboard. finally got it!

  • David

    It is a bit off the subject but the arrogance of SNZ that characterizes what went on in the Wairarapa was further demonstrated today by this SNZ post on their website.

    “New Zealand’s elite swimmers have chalked up record mileage despite the challenge of training at altitude as they prepare for next month’s Commonwealth Games Trials.”

    This is the second time they have described the swimmers at the SNZ swim school as “New Zealand’s elite swimmers”. SNZ confirm yet again that, to them, the rest of us don’t matter a toss. SNZ are “elite” – the rest of us are nothing. Well for the second time let me tell Layton, Renford and the others those left out of your “elite” description include at least ten national champions, a world junior champion, two US based national record holders and both NZ’s best open water swimmers. How dare you omit them from any description of elite. It is arrogance beyond belief.
    Swimmers and coaches outside the SNZ swim school program have been treated with this same contempt for years – ever since Cameron began the program. It has done immeasurable damage. The enemy is the sport’s national body. They have just told us so.