Archive for March, 2019

Racial Profiling In Antares Place

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Recent Swimwatch posts have discussed the sentence used by Swimming New Zealand in their letter to Eyad Masoud and me. The sentence said, “My client has no interest in the programme, Mr Masoud, or Mr Wright.”

Those thirteen words are a clear breach of all that sport should mean. For a national sporting body to dismiss the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) leading humanitarian initiative; for the head office of Swimming New Zealand to send out a letter proclaiming “no interest” in the IOC’s refugee program is white men’s racism at its worst. Steve Johns, Gary Francis and Bruce Cotterill can sip their Wholefood Café lattes and discuss their cosy white man’s world. But they and their organisation count for nothing when they send out letters that dismiss as “no interest” the plight of refugees.

For Cotterill, Johns and Francis to then personalise their “no interest” contempt for the IOC refugee program by making it abundantly clear that they also have “no interest” in Eyad as a person is disgusting behaviour, verging on racial profiling. Their letter is in breach of a dozen SNZ Code of Conduct rules and is probably illegal. Certainly Cotterill, Johns and Francis have no right to single out an Arab Muslim refugee for their “no interest” attention. There is no way that treating one member of SNZ worse than every other member can be justified; especially when that member is an Arab Muslim. In today’s world especially the behaviour of Johns, Francis and Cotterill is beneath contempt. SNZ and Cotterill, Johns and Francis owe Eyad an apology in writing and published on their website news feed.

The mind that bought a gun, took it to a Dunedin rifle range for practice and then stomped into a Christchurch mosque shooting good people, some of them refugees, that mind is impossible to understand. But so are the minds that bought and approved SNZ’s verbal attack on the IOC refugee program and a New Zealand Arab Muslim refugee. Hurt does not always have to arrive out of the barrel of a semi-automatic gun. Words can be mightier than the sword. This SNZ letter is amply proof of that.

But it is not the contempt Cotterill, Francis and Johns have shown for the IOC refugee program or for Eyad that I want to address in this post. I think it is important to consider what the SNZ letter means in terms of the personal morality of those who are running SNZ. What does their letter tell us about their opinion of people less fortunate than themselves? What does it say about Cotterill, Johns and Francis as people? Are they good? Do they care? Or is “no interest” their principal feature.

Refugees are people the Olympic Committee wants to help. The stories of hardship suffered by some members of the IOC’s refugee swim team are amazing.

Take for example Yusra Mardini who paid smugglers $1,500 to cross from Turkey to Greece, after she fled war-torn Damascus. She was packed into an overloaded four-metre dinghy.

Fifteen minutes into the journey, in choppy seas, the boat’s engine died and with the occupants being tossed around helplessly by high waves, it seemed doomed to sink. Yusra who had swam internationally for Syria, jumped into the water to try and stop the boat capsizing, clinging on to try and keep the flimsy dinghy headed in the right direction.

Yusra clung on for three hours, swallowing sea water, her eyes stinging, muscles aching from the cold, and skin chafing from her life jacket. Her legs seized up and the rope cut burns into her palms. Suddenly, the engine sputtered back to life. Shivering with cold, Yusra volunteered for one last stint in the water to reduce the dinghy’s weight and they landed on a Lesbos beach.

“Being a refugee is not a choice,” said Yusra, revealing that she hates the word as it dehumanises people and evokes thoughts of borders, barbed wire, bureaucracy and humiliation.

She was taken to Berlin, where the story of her courage attracted increased attention. She resumed her swimming with her ultimate goal in mind: to compete in the Olympics. Helped by a German coach, she trained and came to the attention of the International Olympic Committee which was forming a refugee team to compete in the Rio games in 2016.

She initially balked at the thought of swimming for a refugee team because she did not want to be defined as stateless, feeling it smacked of charity. But she changed her mind, convinced it was her chance to be a role model to others who have fled war, by showing it is possible to prevail.

But SNZ and Cotterill, Johns and Francis don’t care about Yusra. They have no interest in her or the IOC refugee swimming program. They said so in a letter.

And then there is Eyad Masoud. Perhaps I could tell you his refugee story. He also comes from Syria and now lives in Auckland New Zealand. He swims for the Waterhole Swim Club and trains at the Millennium Pool on Auckland’s North Shore.

But I won’t bother telling you any more than that. There would be no point. You see Eyad has a letter from those that run SNZ. It says SNZ has “no interest” in him or his IOC refugee team. Barry Crump put it better than me – “Bastards I have met”.

We are delighted to see that the disgusting bigotry of SNZ is not reflected in other parts of New Zealand or around the world. Support for Eyad’s petition has risen to 724 signatures. Your backing is making a huge difference – thank you. Here is the link in case you know someone who might be able to help by adding their signature.


The Government Should Stop Funding Swimming New Zealand

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Today I want to focus on one sentence in the letter Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) sent to Eyad and me.  The SNZ letter said this. (The capital letters are mine)


“My client” is SNZ. The programme refers to the IOC’s refugee team. Mr. Masoud is the Syrian refugee and Mr. Wright is me, his coach. Without question I believe that sentence is racist. Not the bit about me. But for SNZ to trumpet the fact that they have “no interest” in the IOC refugee program and “no interest” in a Syrian refugee member of their sport is unbelievable racist hate speech.

Let’s consider what SNZ’s “no interest” in the refugee program or Mr. Masoud actually means.

First the refugee programme. The refugee initiative is held in high regard by the IOC. This is how the IOC President, Thomas Bach, described the purpose of the refugee team.

This will be a symbol of hope for all refugees in the world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society.

I imagine Mr Bach will be delighted to hear that the sport of swimming in New Zealand has “no interest” in the IOC’s “symbol of hope”; no interest in the “magnitude of the crisis” and no interest in the fact that “refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society.” There is no point in SNZ saying anything different. Their letter sent to a Syrian refugee needs no further explanation. It is a racist slur; presumably reflecting the opinions of those responsible for the organisation. The racist buck stops with them.

I cannot comprehend the savage and bigoted views of the individuals in SNZ that allowed a letter like this to be sent out. Do they really have “no interest” in an international swimming programme designed to do nothing but good. I thought SNZ was led by right wing bigots but this hate speech is beyond anything I ever imagined. Although the letter was written by SNZ’s lawyer its contents must have been approved by SNZ staff. That makes them responsible and despicable. And we wonder why Christchurch happened.

Jacinda Ardern said recently, “Is there racism in New Zealand? Undeniably. Is there racism in most countries? Undeniably. Can we do better? Yes.” She is absolutely right. She need look no further than the office of SNZ and its lawyer.

Not content with pouring scorn on the IOC program SNZ turns its attention on Eyad. He is a SNZ member but SNZ have “no interest” in him either. At least that’s what their letter says. Eyad is a Syrian refugee. Family members were killed in the Syrian war. His home is a pile of rubble; bombed by we will never know who. Education is difficult; swimming next to impossible. But in spite of that Eyad persevered. He is an example of all that’s good in the human spirit.

A large number of New Zealanders have treated him well. Immigration NZ, the Waterhole Swim Club, the Millennium Swim School, Auckland University, and a hundred ordinary New Zealanders have been generous, welcoming and kind.

But not SNZ. The racists in that organisation have “no interest” in Eyad. Did Cotterill or Johns or Francis stop for one minute and say to themselves, “How will this make Eyad feel. Will he feel welcome? Will he feel angry? Will he feel empty sadness?” Or did they, as I suspect, just not care.

Whatever happened, telling a refugee that you have “no interest” in him, or his swimming is not my New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern is right. When the staff of a national sporting body indulge in this overt racism we have much to do. Those responsible for that letter need to be sanctioned. The claim of “no interest” in Eyad’s swimming or his life violates almost every swimming Code of Conduct rule. For example their open confession of “no interest” in a Muslim Arab member is in breach of these rules.

Respect the rights, dignity and worth of others.Be fair, considerate and honest in all dealings with others.

Be professional in, and accept responsibility for, your actions.

Be aware of, and maintain an uncompromising adhesion to, standards, rules, regulations and policies

Refrain from any form of abuse towards others.

Refrain from any form of harassment towards others.

Refrain from any form of discrimination towards others.

Refrain from any form of victimisation towards others.

Be a positive role model.

Never act in any way that may bring disrepute or disgrace to Swimming New Zealand members, its stakeholders and/or its sponsors, potential sponsors and/or partners.

In addition I believe the letter is illegal. But I am not a lawyer. We will leave the Human Rights Tribunal to decide on the legality of SNZ’s letter.

So how should SNZ be sanctioned for its blatant racism and for the serial Code of Conduct violations? My recommendation will be for Sport NZ to stop the Government’s funding of SNZ immediately. No one who indulges in such blatant racism should be financially supported by the government. The government has no business paying to maintain a culture of racism in New Zealand. The table below shows what the government paid SNZ in each of the past five years.

2018 1,176,498
2017 1,413,148
2016 1,659,030
2015 2,189,533
2014 2,395,292
TOTAL 8,833,501

And what has New Zealand got for almost $9 million. It has bought a 13 word sentence of hate speech. And for that government funding should cease. It is from sick comments like these that the problems in Christchurch have their source.

In the meantime thank you for your signature on the petition to support Eyad. The pressure of 624 signatures is working. If you know of others who may be able to sign, here is the link to the petition.


Legal Peril

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

For several weeks we have used the pages of Swimwatch to discuss judicial investigations being conducted into the behaviour of Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) and the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC). Several thousand words have been written on the detail of each case. And that is a problem. It means the cases get mixed up and merge together – confusion reigns. It is difficult to distinguish the wood for the trees. In order to provide some clarity therefore this post will summarise each investigation.

Investigation One –The Marris Report

This refers to a complaint that was made about my coaching. SNZ saw it as a chance to get rid of David Wright. They paid a hefty sum to employ a criminal psychotherapist, Michael Marris, to investigate. Before agreeing to participate in the investigation I asked SNZ for an assurance I would be supplied with a copy of the Marris Report. SNZ promised this would be the case. But they lied.

When the report was completed I asked for my copy, Steve Johns sent me a flat refusal. I have little doubt that the report is extremely critical of those who made the complaint and SNZ for the way the complaint was handled. The last thing SNZ wanted was for me to get a copy of that sort of information.

And so I complained to the Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner is currently considering how much of the Marris Report I am entitled to read. SNZ has employed a lawyer to contest the release of any information from the report. Whatever it says must be bad because SNZ have taken the position that nothing, not one word, in the report should be released. But the Commissioner will decide I expect sometime during April.

If the Commissioner decides to release the report, even in a redacted form, I suspect SNZ will continue to deny me access. Courage and honesty are not words that spring to mind when you think of SNZ. If that happens I will file a case with the Human Rights Tribunal who can order SNZ to comply and can levy fines and compensation. I intend to ask for both.

Investigation Two – Refugee Application

Eyad Masoud’s entry into New Zealand as a refugee was approved by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in February 2018. The better facilities and training in New Zealand meant his swimming improved quickly. He now has best short course times as shown in table below.

Event Best SC Time
50 Free 23.64
100 Free 51.71
200 Free 2:01.14
50 Breast 30.12
50 Fly 25.54
100 Fly 57.61
100 IM 1:00.53

The freestyle 50 and 100 times arguably make Eyad the fastest refugee in the world. He decided to apply to join the International Olympic Committee’s refugee team. The procedure required Eyad to complete an Application Form and have it approved as accurate by SNZ and the NZOC and then sent on to the IOC.

The NZOC and SNZ confirmed the accuracy of the Application but refused to send it on to the IOC. They said Eyad was not fast enough to swim for New Zealand. Of course that had nothing to do with swimming in the refugee team. No refugee in the world is fast enough to swim in the New Zealand national team.  I applied to the Human Rights Commission for arbitration. Both SNZ and the NZOC refused to participate in arbitration.

I have now applied to the Human Rights Tribunal for the case to be considered by the Court. I am waiting to hear whether the Tribunal will accept the case. The Tribunal has the power to order SNZ and the NZOC to reconsider Eyad’s Application.

Three days ago I began a petition asking SNZ and the NZOC to reconsider their decision to reject Eyad’s application.  As at 10.30 tonight 518 swimming people around the world thought the cause was sufficiently important to sign their name to the petition. Thank you. I am certain that the New Zealand Minister of Sport, the Prime Minister, the IOC, the IOC Athletes Commission, the FINA Athletes Commission, Global Athletes and the main stream media here and overseas will eventually find that level of support of great interest.

If you have a minute here is the link to the petition. Your help would be deeply appreciated.

Investigation Three – Monopoly Control

This investigation is yet to begin. I anticipate we will have it underway by the end of 2019. The investigation is a copy of a legal challenge currently before the court in the United States. The case will argue that the SNZ Constitution violates New Zealand’s anti-monopoly laws. The Constitution says only SNZ can control competitive swimming in New Zealand. That is illegal. That is the case we will put to the court. We want to see a sport where any club or organization can put on a meet; where any swimmer can compete anywhere in the world against anybody without being held hostage by SNZ.  For too long SNZ has basked in their monopoly power. It is time for a change and that is what I will set out to achieve – the court willing.


So that in less than 1000 words is a summary of what’s on the agenda for 2019. I will of course let you know how each investigation progresses – win or lose.

Unfit For Office

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019


I have written before about the case I have being considered by the Privacy Commissioner. It is the result of a complaint made about my coaching. SNZ asked me to take part in an investigation headed by a criminal psychotherapist Michael Marris. I agreed on the condition that I would see the Marris report. SNZ gave me that assurance.

The report has been prepared and SNZ are refusing to send me a copy. They have gone back on their promise and, in my opinion, are breaking the law. I complained to the Privacy Commission. We will let them decide on the legal question.

What I want to do here is consider whether the Chairman of Swimming New Zealand (SNZ), Bruce Cotterill, and the CEO, Steve Johns, complied with SNZ’s rules. Because if they didn’t, they are unfit for office.

The rules governing a situation like this are contained in a document called the   “Swimming New Zealand Disputes & Disciplinary Policy”. The balance of this post will ask a question and then, surrounded by a border, will consider what the SNZ rules says should happen and discuss what actually occurred.

Was there a dispute that justified an investigation?

In relation to alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct and Member Protection Policy, this Disputes & Disciplinary Policy shall only apply where:

(c) The alleged breach relates to a complaint made under the Code of Conduct or Member Protection Policy which the complainant knew was untrue;

The relevance of this clause is that SNZ rules make specific mention of investigating and sanctioning complainants who know an accusation is untrue. It is my view that this is what happened in this case. In my opinion two complainants lied to SNZ and to Marris. However I am unable to pursue appropriate redress because SNZ are denying me access to the information required to confirm whether I have been subject to untrue accusations. This needs to be corrected. The accusations are clearly not true. If they were I should never be allowed in a swimming pool again. The problem is I have not seen the report and therefore am unable to seek compensation from those, including SNZ, who participated in the deception.

Was the Marris appointment properly convened?  

Where the Board is satisfied that the dispute meets the criteria in rule 4.2(e) it shall:

(a) Refer the parties to the dispute to mediation to be facilitated by the President or such person suitably qualified to mediate the dispute;

This clause makes it clear that Michael Marris was properly appointed in accordance with the provision of the rules.

Did SNZ follow correct procedures before the hearing?

Documents: any documents upon which any party to the hearing wishes to rely must be sent to the other party and the Panel at least two business days prior to the date convened for the hearing.

The intent of the rules governing SNZ disputes is clearly seen in this provision. Any documents must be sent to the parties involved in the dispute. In my case this did not happen before, during or after the investigation. Cotterill and Johns are in clear breach of SNZ rules.

Did SNZ follow correct procedures during the hearing?

Written submissions: Any party to a hearing (including the CEO and / or CPA) may make any written submissions to the Panel provided that copies of such written submissions are provided to the Panel and the other parties prior to their presentation.

Here again SNZ rules are clear. Submissions to the investigation must be shared by all parties involved in the dispute. Again Cotterill and Johns refused to allow this to happen. Again they are in breach of SNZ rules.

Did SNZ follow correct procedures after the hearing?

9.2 Written Reasons: The Panel will with as little delay as possible after the conclusion of a hearing, contemporaneously provide a written determination to the parties, which sets out the reasons for the determination.

And finally SNZ rules specifically require the conclusions of the hearing be prepared with “as little delay as possible” and distributed to the parties. I am clearly one of the parties to the dispute and have been refused access to the report and its “determination”. Cotterill and Johns refuse to allow this to happen. They are in breach of SNZ rules.

Do the rules of confidentiality prohibit me being provided with the report?

There are two clauses that rule on this matter.

Confidentiality: all hearings before the Panel shall be confidential and any matters discussed shall be held in the strictest confidence between those in attendance at the hearing.


Determinations confidential: All determinations of the Panel shall be confidential between the parties

As if to stress the importance of parties to the dispute being informed, SNZ rules even mention it in both the “Confidentiality” clauses. Confidentiality expressly does not preclude parties involved in the dispute being informed. In my case Cotterill and Johns refuse to allow this to happen. They are in breach of both these SNZ rules.

Why is this important?

(b) In relation to a dispute between Members, make such findings of fact or other such orders which the Panel considers necessary in order to resolve the dispute which may include (but not necessarily be limited to):

(i) Ordering one Member to pay the other Member a sum in compensation which represents any actual financial loss suffered by that Member which is caused by the other Member;

I have redress in SNZ rules for financial loss suffered as a result of this investigation, redress from those who made the complaint and redress from SNZ for the manner in which the complaint has been handled. It is my intention to seek a sum of $25,000 from each of the two complainants and the same amount from SNZ. But to file this claim I need access to the determination. Financial reparations proposed in the rules are being denied because Cotterill and Johns have hidden the report and its conclusions.


These events reflect badly on Bruce Cotterill and Steve Johns. They are in multiple violations of SNZ rules. They may yet be found to be in violation of the law. They have placed the organisation in financial peril. In my opinion they are not fit for office. They would expel any normal member who was guilty of the serial rule violations mentioned in this post.  It is time they expelled themselves.

Guns Kill

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

In the midst of a weekend of death in New Zealand some good may result; not enough to compensate for the hurt that has been inflicted on our country and especially its Muslim population – but perhaps enough to reduce the chances of it happening again.

I was impressed with the leadership shown by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In particular I was encouraged by her early assurance that New Zealand’s gun laws would be reformed. You see guns are a subject I happen to know quite a bit about. From my early teenage years I hunted goats, pigs and deer. A thousand animals have met their end from a rifle aimed by me. And one thing I know for certain is if you are interested in recreational hunting there is no need for telescopic sights, magazines full of bullets and semi-automatic, semi-military firearms.

Just look at the picture on this post. That’s not a hunting or target rifle. That’s a weapon designed to do what it did in Christchurch. Guns like that should be banned today and the laws relating to ownership of all legal guns made far more severe. Oh and anyone who bought a gun in the days since the Christchurch killings should be required to return them. Their motives are just too suspect for words.

In order to highlight the need for instant tougher gun control in New Zealand I have copied below a story previously posted on Swimwatch. Here is that story.

“I have written several stories about hunting pigs, deer and goats on the East Coast of the North Island. It was a source of income that I used to pay for my annual trip to Australia to train with Don Talbot. I guess it qualified me as a small time professional hunter. There were however fairly strict rules imposed by my parents that controlled what I was allowed and was not allowed to do on my weekend trips into the bush. I was not allowed telescopic sights. I was not allowed a magazine of bullets. Every shot had to be individually loaded. I was not allowed to load a gun unless a prey had been identified.

But probably the strictest rule of all was the clear instruction that if I was hunting with a mate we stayed together. Under no circumstances were we allowed to split-up. “You go down the hill and I’ll climb above and we will catch the deer in the middle” – that was absolutely forbidden. The reason of course was the risk of shooting each other.

With that history you can imagine how disgusted I was last night watching TVNZ Duke program “Wild Kai” (8.30pm on Saturday). Disgusted, because there on film were two lunatics with guns. Not only guns, they had telescopic sights, silencers, tripod stands and powerful binoculars. Their gear must have cost a fortune. This wasn’t hunting deer on the East Coast. This was the war in Iraq in a nicer setting. Even their truck was an upmarket version of the ones you see fighting desert wars. The shallow pretention of the whole program was highlighted when one lunatic complained to his mate that some deer blood had dripped onto his dog box in the back of his precious truck.

But then, as I sat with my mouth open in amazement, TVNZ showed these two guys make a plan to split up and approach a deer from opposite directions. They said it would double the chances of a kill. The multiple increase in the probability of shooting themselves was a footnote to their hunting success. Oh, they mouthed a few cautionary words about being careful not to shoot each other, but for them the advantages clearly outweighed the dangers.

What made all that totally irresponsible was the sun going down and night arriving as they went their separate ways. Dangerous? It was suicidal. Alison asked me if the program was anything like hunting as a teenager in Te Reinga. I said, “Not at all. If we had been caught doing what those guys are promoting on TV we would never have been allowed to go near the bush with a gun again.” And as for TVNZ they have a responsibility not to promote dangerous behavior. TVNZ do not have a license to encourage street car racing or boating in heavy seas without a lifejacket or hunting separately in the dark. Without question TVNZ should face some sort of sanction for irresponsible journalism. Banning the company from showing any hunting programs for five years would be a start.

The reality of TVNZ’s decision to show the behavior of these two lunatics was brought into sharp focus by a court case in Invercargill. Here is a summary of what the Stuff website reported this morning.

Shirley Whyte can’t fathom how her 16-year-old son died. “I still don’t know what happened that day,” she says. “It was a beautiful, clear sunny day and Mark was shot in an open paddock. This much is known: Tuatapere man Brendon Diack, another hunter, fired at least one of the shots that passed through Mark Whyte’s green-brown Swanndri on September 21, 1996. Diack admitted a charge of careless use of a firearm causing death, and served 29 days in jail. Remorseful, he later told media he wasn’t allowed to go hunting again, and didn’t want to.

Because Diack was not true to his word. As the years passed after the killing, he decided he did wish to go hunting again – and five or six times, he applied to police for a new gun license. Every time, they refused. And so, frustrated, he took the NZ Police to court.

Late on Friday afternoon, Judge Mark Callaghan refused Diack’s bid to get his license back, pointing to the 1996 tragedy and two angry outbursts in 2013 and 2014 to show Diack was not a fit and proper person to hold a firearms licence.

This was not a case of a hunting group splitting into two. This was two separate hunters in the same area, at the same time. This was not at night, in the dark. But even so a boy got shot by someone who should never be allowed a gun again. Thank God, the New Zealand Police and the Courts appear to have a more responsible attitude to gun ownership than the national, state owned, TV channel. There is no statute of limitations on what Mr. Diack did. The same rules should apply to TVNZ for aiding and abetting irresponsible gun behavior.”

In that post I suggest that the current laws on gun ownership are good and proper. That is not true. New Zealand still allows idiots to own weapons designed to kill people. That should stop today.