In a recent interview with Radio New Zealand, Sport New Zealand CEO Raelene Castle said the crown agency did not have a direct role in supporting community sports clubs. Ms Castle said that "our role is to engage with the National Sports Organisations”. This is at odds with the agency’s statutory obligations.

The Sport and Recreation New Zealand Act 2002 (which established Sport New Zealand), requires the crown agency, funded by the taxpayer, under section 8 (l) to “provide advice and support for organisations working in physical recreation and sport at national, regional, and local levels”.

Moreover section 8 (j) of the Act requires Sport New Zealand to “work with schools, regional, central, and local government, and physical recreation and sports organisations to ensure the maintenance and development of the physical and organisational infrastructure for physical recreation and sport”.

Based on these two clauses alone, it would appear that Sport New Zealand does indeed, unequivocally, have a direct role in supporting community sport clubs, given that clubs: a. are the primary sport organisations in New Zealand which operate at a local level; and b. they are the core organisational infrastructure for the delivery of sport to New Zealand communities, "from Kaitaia to Bluff".

Somewhere along the way, this statutory focus has been lost.

To help Sport New Zealand refocus, it must be reminded that not all community sport clubs are members of a national sport organisation and that others which are incorporated have their own independent legal identities, separate to that of a national sport organisation, (even if affiliated).

The fact that Sport New Zealand did not submit to Government on the Incorporated Societies Bill reveals a disconnect between where it believes its focus should be, relative to what its statutory obligations are. While we acknowledge that Sport New Zealand did provide a submission on the Act’s regulations, we observe this was only possible after this Association confronted the former Government directly when it attempted to cancel public consultation.

We encourage Sport New Zealand to join us in advocating for the new Government to undertake a statutory review of the Incorporated Societies Act 2022 to ensure it (and its associated regulations) are fit for purpose in maintaining the organisational infrastructure for sport in New Zealand. As has been once said, “although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”