Archive for November, 2017

A Treaty of Trust

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

I get annoyed at commentators who hold strong opinions on issues that really have little effect on their lives. The best example is men, especially in the USA, who hold strong opinions on contraception and abortion. They legislate and demand restrictions on matters that belong to women. These men will never know the distress felt by a woman forced to carry the possibly deformed product of a gang rape. And yet these men seem perfectly happy telling all women how they should think and act in that circumstance.

In a similar manner my experience of things Maori is limited. I am a white, European male. I do not know what it’s like to be racially profiled. I have no experience of being sneered at because of the colour of my skin. And for that reason I possibly should not be writing an article about the Treaty of Waitangi.

However I am going to run the risk. Why? Three reasons. First, I have some practical experience of things Maori. Second, because I have a modest academic education on the content and meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi. Third, because when the Treaty comes under attack it affects the fabric of our home. And when that happens all New Zealanders should be concerned and take steps to reject the invasion.

Let me explain. My practical experience came as a result of being raised in the small East Coast village of Te Reinga. For seven years, at primary school, I was the only pakeha in an all Maori school. I attended every tangi. I complied with the tapu rules affecting our river, land and burial ground. I knew well the story of Hinekorako, the only female Maori deity, and her home beneath the Te Reinga falls. When I started high school I remember clearly wondering whether I should speak to my new pakeha friends the same way as I spoke to my Maori mates. I know that sounds ridiculous but I had never had a pakeha friend.

Several years later I included a unit of New Zealand history in my study at Victoria University. My special topic was the Treaty of Waitangi. This was in 1968. The implications of the Treaty were being revealed. Of course it can be argued, and many have, that the Treaty is merely a document of convenience used by pakeha and Maori to gain money, land and power. Don Brash almost won a general election by undermining the importance of the Treaty. Convicted rapist, Allan Titford, and some of his friends travelled around the country spreading anti Treaty propaganda. I reject their views. I accept that the Treaty is New Zealand’s founding document. Its presence has had a pivotal impact on how our national identity has been formed. The New Zealand we have today, in large part, reflects the Treaty’s spirit of participation, protection, and partnership.

With this background you probably understand why I feel strongly about the remarks reported to have been made by Sir William Gallagher, the chief executive of his father’s Hamilton electric fencing company, to an audience at the Waikato Stadium. Gallagher made several claims that in my view are bigoted and racist; dangerously bigoted and racist.

But before looking at what he said, I read that he has defended his views by claiming to have done extensive research into New Zealand history. Key to that research, I am told, is discussions he has had with Don Brash. Wow, that’s a balanced source of information; about as balanced as asking Goebbels to prepare a report on political freedom in Europe in the 1930s.

For example Gallagher said the Treaty papers on display at Te Papa were fraudulent documents. He added that the concept of the Treaty was a rort. He condemned the idea that the Treaty involved a partnership between Māori and the Crown, and lamented the monetary reparations for breaches of the Treaty that some iwi have received over the last quarter of a century. He warned that Māori “separatism” was creating “apartheid” in New Zealand, and claimed that non-Māori risked losing all their rights, including even their rights to visit the country’s beaches. His speech was an old man’s bigoted and racist rant spewing bias and division. New Zealand is a poorer place for being subject to his opinions.

So what are we going to do about it? Four steps stand out.

  1. Since 2012 Gallagher has been a principle partner of Swimming Waikato. That relationship should be terminated immediately. Gallagher’s opinions are a test for Swimming Waikato. Is principle more important than money? Does integrity mean more than dollars? Is the honesty of Waikato administrators for sale to the highest bidder? I guess we are about to find out.
  2. Swimming New Zealand should instruct Swimming Waikato to sever its links with the Gallagher organization. The Swimming New Zealand Code of Conduct specifically prohibits the sort of discrimination advocated by Gallagher. Any link with his views is bad and should be terminated from the top.
  3. Swimming New Zealand should end its association with Sport Waikato. Gallagher provides Sport Waikato with significant financial support. Swimming New Zealand needs to be seen to have no association with organisations that depend on money from that source. In the past Swimming New Zealand has rightly moved to reject funding from tobacco and alcohol companies. Gallagher’s opinions are no less toxic.
  4. Swimming New Zealand should lobby, where it can, to have Gallagher’s removed as a sponsor of the Chief’s rugby team. For a team so dependent on the skill and application of Maori players for their success it is unacceptable to take money from a source that has said those same players are part of deliberate and organized cultural theft.

Trust is a two way street. There have been many examples of sponsors walking away from clients because of unethical behaviour. Bill O’Reilly was sacked when sponsors stopped supporting his television show. Tiger Woods lost big sponsors worth $22 million when his sexual indiscretions were uncovered. Lance Armstrong lost $150 million in one day when he admitted being a drug cheat. Michael Phelps was dropped by Kelloggs when he was photographed smoking marijuana. Ryan Lochte is said to have lost $5 million when he made up a story about being robbed at a gas station in Rio. And for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear Mike Tyson lost $11 million of sponsorship.

Gallagher refuses to back down or apologize. He has forfeited the right to our support. We will see if those responsible for swimming have the integrity to do the right thing; to stand up for decency and justice in New Zealand. They have never done it before. I doubt this time will be any different.

Gutter Press

Friday, November 24th, 2017

I am reluctant to continue the discussion of matters associated with New Zealand sport’s journalist, Tony Veitch. His conviction for kicking his partner in the back has been widely debated. As justified as continuing the debate might be, the publicity it creates gives a felon like Veitch far too much attention. Veitch built his career by being in the news. For Veitch, it seems, any publicity is good publicity. Besides, just about everybody has had their say. The disgust expressed by most commentators reflects well on New Zealand. The exceptions are Veitch himself, some red-neck residents, Sky Sport and the New Zealand Herald.

This post will consider the position of some red-neck residents and the New Zealand Herald.

My problem is not that the New Zealand Herald has tried to cover up the behaviour of Tony Veitch. The paper certainly has not done that. It accurately reported the Veitch assault on Kristin Dunne-Powell. In fact in May 2009 it went further and published a harrowing description, written by Kristin Dunne-Powell, of the attack. And in May 2016 the Herald published a statement from Kristian’s father that highlighted the multiple attacks included in the police investigation. The paper has not tried to hide Veitch’s amazing personal relationship failures; from the Kristian assault to the sixteen month marriage and divorce of Zoe Halford in 2009, to the eleven month marriage and divorce to Lisa Bryan in 2016. Maintaining a relationship does not appear to be a Veitch strong point. Mind you – whenever I’ve listened to him on the radio, I find it easy to understand why.

Veitch seems to have had more than his fair share of other bizarre events. In 2010 he was sent home from Radio Sport for getting involved in a “heated argument with a female staff member”. In 2013 he was in the Auckland Showgirls strip club when his female companion collapsed and was taken by ambulance to Auckland City Hospital. His life appears to confirm the description given to it by Kristin’s father, “This was no one-off, as you still attempt to mislead the New Zealand public to believe. The other charges were never presented to the court but they remain evidence of your systematic abusive pattern. In those files lies a very inconvenient truth for you.”

The Herald has also reported on Veitch’s professional blunders. For example in 2005 the paper covered a radio outburst in which he compared Serena Williams to an ape. They also published the apology Veitch was ordered to make. Famously, the Veitch idea of remorse begins with this qualification, “During Friday’s show in a banter and exchange with Dean Lonergan.” Wow, New Zealand has its own Donald Trump. It was all just good old locker room talk. Of course it was. Sexual assault and comparing a black American woman to an ape – it’s all good locker room banter. What are you bleeding heart liberals grumpy about?

No, I am not complaining about a Herald cover up. What is disturbing is the willingness the paper has shown to give Veitch a voice. When the accusations of domestic violence were first made public, a Herald editorial demanded that we all settle down and give the broadcaster his day in court. This is what the newspaper said.

“Removing the broadcaster from the airwaves before any of this is concluded would be literally firing first and asking questions later. If charges are laid and a case proceeds, then standard employment procedures would probably see him suspended then until resolution. In the meantime, he could continue in his limited public role of talking sport. It is not as if he is lecturing in morality, integrity, decency and respect for others.”

Well, Veitch has now had his day in court. He was tried, convicted and sentenced for lashing out and kicking his partner in the back, breaking several bones. And at the Herald nothing changed. Veitch is still employed writing opinion pieces. The Herald said we should all wait until justice was served and then “standard employment procedures” would apply. What a joke. The Herald’s “old boys club” gathered around and Veitch continued to write and be published.

And as for the disgusting Herald editorial sentence that says, “It is not as if he is lecturing in morality, integrity, decency and respect for others.” What a joke. Veitch uses his column inches in the Herald to do nothing else.

For example on the Aaron Smith, Christchurch toilet, episode Veitch published this.

“What to do with Aaron Smith? It’s fair to say this one has no easy answer. If you’d asked me two days ago, I would have said there was absolutely no way Aaron Smith should play. His penalty for the toilet indiscretion will likely be one match and a fine.”

In fact Veitch has used his Herald column to tell us that morality, integrity, decency and respect for others is exactly how he sees as his role. Here is what he recently wrote.

“Stick to sport I was told, I have no right to have to say on politics. My response – to continue the debate with even more vigour. This is far and away the biggest sporting story in the world right now. It goes beyond winning and losing, it’s about life, values and beliefs.”

And talking about Team NZ Veitch said this.

“The humility that may have been lacking in previous campaigns has returned. The team have intentionally kept their heads down and headlines out of the newspapers.”   

And so, in case the NZ Herald has not got the point, the last person whose opinions on life, values, beliefs and humility I want to hear from is Tony Veitch. And as for listening to his advice on what Smith’s punishment should be for a sexual indiscretion – has Veitch got no shame? It won’t matter a damn but for what it is worth, drop the Veitch column and I’ll start buying the newspaper again.

One final thought on Veitch: I have noticed some people jumping to defend what, I would have thought, would have been indefensible.  For example on Facebook I saw a comment that said, “But she was wrong as well.” That may well be right. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live with one or two of the parents I’ve had to deal with in swimming clubs around the world. But no matter how wrong she was, no matter how difficult she was to live with, even if she had taken a look at his mobile phone and even if she had caught him out in a bald-faced lie – there is nothing that can justify or diminish or excuse savagely kicking your partner in the back. In fact saying “she was wrong as well” makes you no better that Veitch. Give him a call. You may enjoy an exciting life together.

Is Veitch The Dark Underbelly of Sport Broadcasting?

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

While I was writing this post the news came through that Tony Veitch had quit a new Sky TV show. Although he has gone I have decided to publish the story. The fact he was initially considered a suitable choice by Sky Sport has too many implications to ignore. Here then is the post before Veitch jumped or was pushed.

Thank God for journalists like Kylie Klein Nixon. Today I read her article about the news that sports broadcaster Tony Veitch, “who once broke his partner’s back during a fight, is returning to television with a “hard hitting” TV show in which he will deal with “controversial issues”.

Kylie Klein Nixon questions the appointment of Veitch. I have copied below pretty much the whole of her article. It’s so brilliantly written it would have been a crime to leave out any ironic detail.

“Tony Veitch, Matthew Ridge, Marc Ellis, Mike King, Martin Devlin of A Game of Two Halves. Veitchy is hoping to get the old gang back together.

We checked in with Sky in the afternoon, and at that time they confirmed it: Tony was the guy for them.

“What we want to do is bring out these controversial matters and get some different broadcasters and personalities and opinions out there to debate the big issues,” A Sky spokesperson told us.

The NewstalkZB and Radio Sport star, who once paid then partner Kristin Dunne-Powell $100,000 not to tell anyone that he threw her down a flight of stairs, will once again share the screen with Martin Devlin, and zero sense of irony.

Oh happy day, New Zealand!  Finally we can throw off this namby-pamby image of a country that gives a s… about everyone in it and really be ourselves.

I was just saying the other day that what this country needs right now is another TV show featuring a couple of middle-aged white men giving their “hard hitting” opinions hard hittingly and telling us what’s what. Hard.

Naturally, The Spinoff has already condemned the announcement like the bunch of goodie two-shoes they are.

As did Tess McClure writing for Vice, who says Veitch’s return to TV “reveals our astonishingly short memories for gendered violence“. But, like, what would she know? She probably hasn’t drunk enough Double Brown while scratching her nuts to understand sometimes s… happens. And then, there’s sports.

Sure, the fact Tony Veitch was back broadcasting publicly a few years after admitting his lost his temper and lashed out at Dunne-Powell, injuring her significantly. But to be fair, that in no way reflects how good sports – with or even without a ball – is.

As Sky Sports said when we asked them: “Tony has one of the very largest sports audiences in the country… We were looking for the leading sports broadcasters and Tony ticked that box. That’s what we were considering when we asked him to be on the show.

“We in no way support domestic violence in any form… What we want to stress is this show is about diverse opinions and strong opinions and Tony as a leading broadcaster fits that bill.”

See? It’s just sports and strong opinions about sports. They don’t even support domestic violence!  You can tell because they say so!

New Zealand’s choice of incredibly dodgy sports broadcasters is simply a reflection of our dearly held national belief that sports is, obviously, you know, way more important than any of that other stuff.

Like that whole… pony tail thing, and the pregnancy thing, and the I dunno other thing you bunch of non-Sky Sports subscription paying losers who care about women like to get worked up about. It’s not that big of a deal if a guy who once issued an entire apology for bashing someone without actually apologising to the person he bashed is welcomed back on the TV like a celebrity.

And as for the attention of more than 214,249 fans who follow good old Veitchy on Facebook, well, that’s just good honest Kiwis reflecting a good honest “harden up” attitude to victims of all genders. It’s not about sexism, silly.

Besides, the harder you are, the less being thrown down a flight of stairs hurts. Obviously. Ignoring past hurts actually helps you, you big babies.

At a time when the rest of the world is making a big fuss over clearing house and taking names, we’re showing our true colours, sticking to our guns, and moving a known offender who tried to hide his crime back into the penthouse where we clearly think he belongs.

Nice one, Kiwi.”

New Zealand needs journalists like Kylie Klein Nixon. It is a small country where those that get on the “wrong-side” of the establishment can quickly be ostracised. Believe me, it is most unpleasant. Nixon appears to be courageous enough to run that risk; prepared to stand up to Sky Sport and the boorish bad manners of Veitch and Devlin. And all power to her.

There is no way Veitch should be promoted. He does not need to rot in jail for his bad behaviour. But that is not the point. Should a person who has seriously assaulted his partner and has then paid a $100,000 cover-up be put in a position of lecturing New Zealand on ethical questions involved in sport? Of course not. We don’t ask Dean Wickliffe for advice on jewellery shopping or Bill Cosby on tips for a successful date or Bernie Madoff on principled banking practice. So many of the questions being addressed in the Sky Sport program will be judgement issues. What is right and what is wrong? And in that department Veitch has permanently forfeited the right to be heard. There is no statute of limitations. Veitch’s opinions are not something New Zealand will derive any benefit from or needs. He had certainly better not comment on any athlete I coach in the future. Nothing they could do is ever likely match the depravity of Veitch’s past. We can learn nothing from the Veitch source – except certainly how not to behave; what not to become.

And then there is the decision of Sky Sport; justified by a pathetic and amoral claim to audience size and diverse and strong opinions. “We in no way support domestic violence in any form” they said. Well let’s put that notion to rest straight away. Promoting a domestic violence offender into a position where his views are being widely disseminated around the country on television is clear acceptance of domestic violence. There are things that are more important than the number of customers with a Sky account; some things of greater value than money. The management of Sky Sport clearly doesn’t see it that way.

Faced with this decision by Sky Sport the appropriate reaction should be to close Sky accounts until Veitch goes. The example of Bill Reilly at Fox News in the United States has taught us that television bosses only move when there is financial pain. Let’s learn that lesson and give it to Sky in heaps.






Sport New Zealand Priorities

Monday, November 20th, 2017

The previous Swimwatch post, titled “Sport New Zealand it’s About Time”, discussed the need for the new government to address the poor performance of Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand. We drew attention to the stunning facts that eighty-five staff members are paid in excess of $100,000 per annum. Alex Baumann was living like a king on $420,000 a year and Peter Miskimmin is paid just under $400,000.

In contrast an Olympic gold medallist is paid $60,000. This reduces to $25,000 for a competitor ranked in the world’s top twelve. For Miskimmin to promote a value system where an Olympic gold medallist is only worth a little more than half of what eighty-five of his office bureaucrats are paid is way out of line. To go further into the ethical gutter and say that an Olympic gold medallist is only worth 15% of what Miskimmin pays himself and paid Baumann is unbelievable.

The message from Miskimmin appears to be that it takes almost seven Olympic gold medals to equal the financial value Miskimmin puts on his own involvement in sport. In 2012 his organization wet its pants over the four gold medals New Zealand won at the Rio Olympic Games. What a stunning performance Sport New Zealand said. What a massive contribution Baumann had made to New Zealand sport we were told. Sadly Miskimmin’s way of recognising the achievement was to pay the four athletes combined an amount that is only half of the amount Miskimmin puts in his own pocket. New Zealand athletes would have had to win twice the number of gold medals before their combined financial reward was equal, in value, to the contribution Miskimmin puts on himself.

In my opinion it is a disgusting allocation of funds. It is an unpatriotic use of national resources. I can’t help but believe it is a massive insult to the work and application of Hamish Bond, Eric Murray, Mahe Drysdale, Lisa Carrington, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. The contribution of these men and women to the New Zealand nation and their importance as role models is immeasurably more important than Baumann and Miskimmin. Several thousand New Zealand pre-teens have photographs of Carrington or Burling on their bedroom walls as examples of what they want to be one day. None knows or cares about Miskimmin or Baumann.

It is interesting to consider what a fair allocation of resources should be. I do not have access to sufficient information to suggest numbers. However in principle whatever Miskimmin is paid, the same amount should be paid to New Zealanders who become the best in the world at what they do. Others can decide what that means in terms of how much more the likes of Carrington should be paid and how much less should go to Miskimmin and his bureaucratic mates.

While Miskimmin is the CEO of Sport New Zealand things are unlikely to change. Why? Because at the top of the organization Miskimmin’s boss is a man called Sir Paul Collins. He is totally a Board Room money man. He has been on the board of more than 50 listed companies in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and London. He is an executive director of the private investment company Active Equity Holdings Limited, and is a former Chief Executive of Brierley Investments.

I knew him when I taught his children to swim four days a week in the indoor 25m pool attached to his Wadestown home. You get a feeling about people when you work for them. My impression was that Collins enjoyed the role of “lord of the manor”; slightly aloof with an annoying disdain for the hired help. At the time I was coaching, Toni Jeffs and Nichola Chellingworth, New Zealand’s two fastest freestyle and butterfly swimmers. Not once did Paul Collins show any interest in their progress; a fact I found strange given his role in sport. If it hadn’t been for the fact that his wife was warm, welcoming and thankful for my work I would never have stayed as long as I did. Collins, it seemed to me, appeared to fit perfectly into the corporate raider reputation enjoyed by Brierley Investments in those days.

I might be wrong, but I can well imagine that Collins sees nothing wrong or even unusual about the $400,000 paid to Miskimmin and Baumann compared to $60,000 paid to an Olympic gold medallist. That attitude would fit right in with my experience. To work as it should Grant Robertson’s first job will need to be to replace Paul Collins and Peter Miskimmin. He should enjoy that. Unbelievably Miskimmin is not only paid almost seven times more that an Olympic gold medallist, his pay is $112,000 more than Robertson.

There are occasions when organisations spiral out of control. When he was CEO of Brierley Investments, Collins made a fortune out of taking over companies that had lost their way. And now Collins is Chairman of Sport New Zealand in equal need of reform. Several years ago the London Financial Times asked a well-known Deloitte’s insolvency manager to explain the signs he looked for in a company about to have problems.  The Financial Times expected to recieve an essay discussing debt to equity ratios, profit margins and the like.  Instead they were given a list of six danger signals.  They were:  three flagpoles at the Head Office front door; excessive management remuneration; a Chairman who owns a racehorse; a Head Office kitchen and dining room; a chauffeur driven car for the CEO and a corporate aeroplane.

Apart from excessive management remuneration I doubt that Sport New Zealand has any of those issues on that list. But we know they do have their own version of three flag poles at the door. The organisation has drifted on through the nine years of National government rule without sufficient control or discipline. Things have got out of hand. Let’s just hope that Grant Robertson is as successful as Chief Hone Heke at cutting down flagpoles.




Sport New Zealand It’s About Time

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

One consequence of the change of government in New Zealand is the possibility that the sport’s bureaucracy could be in for a major shakeup. During the election campaign, Labour and the Greens expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand. There were signs that a Labour led government might push for an end to the independence High Performance Sport has enjoyed since its foundation in 2011.

Labour’s shadow-spokesman for sport Trevor Mallard was frequently critical of the Miskimmin empire. It is likely Mallard summarized Labour’s position when he recently said, “It’s time the sector was put under the microscope and that includes scrutiny right at the top – across the Crown’s recreational arm, Sport New Zealand, and its elite partner, High Performance Sport New Zealand.” And now Grant Robertson has accepted the Minister for Sport and Recreation portfolio. When a Minister of his seniority gets involved in a minor portfolio it is a fair bet that change is not far behind.

If that is the plan, it is long overdue. For ten years Swimwatch has argued that the influence of Peter Miskimmin has been bad for sports such as swimming and track and field athletics. I have argued that Miskimmin has ruthlessly followed a policy of centralized preparation that is wrong and has hurt individual sports.

In that time two generations of young swimmers have committed themselves to the Miskimmin model and have been used and abandoned without reward. Type Miskimmin’s name into the Swimwatch search facility and you will find a flood of references to the hurt caused by Miskimmin’s policy. That hurt arises out of two problems intrinsic to the Miskimmin centralized model.

First the government’s money combined with Miskimmin’s aspiration to build an empire has encouraged the growth of sporting bureaucracy at the expense of the performers. A few years ago swimming was administered by one part-time lady called Donella Tait from a two room office in the Dominion Building in Wellington. And the performers in the Tait era were not too bad. Names like Moss, Kingsman, Loader, Jeffs, Simcic and Langrell were winning international medals and breaking world records. Wind forward through the Miskimmin years and the Swimming New Zealand website tells me that Donella Tait has been replaced by a staff of nineteen. And for a couple of years now New Zealand swimming has no one winning international medals. In my opinion, that failure is a legacy of the Miskimmin policy. In my opinion his policy has caused the failure.

It is not just swimming that has been affected. The same bureaucratic creep has happened everywhere. Cycling, rowing, athletics, kayaking – everywhere Miskimmin has gone has added another trophy to the Miskimmin empire. No wonder government funding of sport has increased from $6.2 million in 2002 to more than $80 million in 2013. Eighteen extra bureaucrats in swimming repeated over a dozen sports don’t come cheap.

But it is not only the increase in numbers that Miskimmin’s policy has encouraged. Centralisation has given bureaucrats the power to set themselves up with cushy and bloated contracts. For example in Sport NZ and High Performance Sport NZ right now there are eighty-five employees paid in excess of $100,000 per year. Did you get that number – 85 of them sit in Wellington or Antares Place living like kings.

And in case you are thinking that the athletes must be paid a lot more too, consider this. An Olympic gold medallist is paid a maximum of $60,000. That drops down to $25,000 for top twelve in the world. Miskimmin’s centralised policy says clearly that the best in the world at track or swimming is only worth half as much as one of his bean-counters in a Wellington office; and only 14% as much at Alex Baumann’s obscene salary of $420,000. In order to buy the basic requirements of life swimmers ranked in the top twelve in the world are working second jobs while the Baumann family speed by on their new Kawasaki jet ski. To say there is a priorities problem would be a serious understatement. To say that there is much for Grant Robertson to put right would be stating the obvious.

Second those attracted to Miskimmin’s centralized version of sport’s management are in it for their wages, as career bureaucrats, with little or no product knowledge. The effect of this on swimming has been very obvious. Decisions get taken on when to hold national championships, on when and where to spend money on altitude training, on who should coach New Zealand’s best swimmers that are just flat out wrong. Wrong, because those making the decisions have little or no knowledge of the product. Swimming in the Gisborne Bodle Shield interclub or creating “The 7 Principles of Profit” does not equip you to manage the career of an athlete like Lauren Boyle. But that’s the problem she faced.

I would argue that Miskimmin has not invested in sport. His policy has spent the minimum amount possible on Boyle, or Snyders or Mains or Donaldson. They were expendable. Miskimmin’s empire involved investing heavily in bureaucracy: with an open cheque book he pursued the biblical mission of “tearing down barns and building bigger ones.”

I am sure that Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson are more than capable of managing a leftish change in sport, away from a centralised empire and towards those who run and swim and row for their country. But even Ardern and Robertson will need to show determination. Miskimmin and the eighty-four others know their way around Wellington. They are living on the fat of the land. They are paid handsome salaries and are not to be taken lightly.

They will be using their vast experience in order to resist change. They will pander to the Opposition in order to resist the large-scale changes that are needed. Miskimmin will not want to see his centralised training policy replaced by a sharper more responsive athlete focused program. Eighty-five bureaucrats paid $100,000 a year will not want to see their bureaucracy dismantled and replaced by a leaner consolidated administration. Miskimmin will not want to hear the news that his grand scheme of empire makes him an inappropriate choice to lead sport in a new direction. And sports like swimming will not want to see their bloated, overstaffed, centralised offices dismantled. But that’s the scale and nature of the changes required in New Zealand sport.

There is hope. The Labour, NZ First and Green government has rightly promoted the importance of change. Those of us involved at the coal face of sport will be watching and expecting, praying that the long night of Miskimmin excess is about to end.



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