192 incorporated sport entities were dissolved by the Registrar of Incorporated Societies on Thursday, 7 July 2022. Basketball, Bowls, Cricket, Equestrian, Football, Hockey, Martial Arts, Motor Sport, Netball, and Rugby (union and league) were among the top codes affected.

Among the notable dissolutions from a national perspective, was the South Canterbury Rugby Football Union Inc. (A total of 493 societies were dissolved by the registrar “being "satisfied that [they] are no longer carrying on their operations").

(Even larger incorporated sport entities can involuntarily "fall foul" of the Act)

This Association suggests that (given the comparatively light regulatory burden imposed by the now-repealed 1908 Act), this large number of dissolutions is but the "tip of the iceberg" of what could conceivably become an "extinction event" for community sport clubs in New Zealand.

While the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, David Clark, has said that the Government will not countenance any change to the recently passed Incorporated Societies Act 2022, there is no reason not to lobby for change given the impending electoral cycle and the unintended consequences of the new law on community sport.

Here are three proposals, worth considering.

(There must be more than one way to achieve the objectives of the new legislation)

To give effect to these proposals, the Association suggests that if the definition of “small society” in the Act is extended so that if a “small society” is also an “amateur sport promoter” (as defined by Income Tax Act 2007), then certain provisions of the new Act should not apply.

  1. That dispute-resolution and conflict-of-interest management can be delegated/referred to a centralised service provided by a national sport organisation (NSO), or if the club has no NSO, then through a regional sport trust (RST).
  2. That any incidences of non-compliance (if identified by the Registrar) are referred to the clubs’s NSO, (or if there is no NSO, then through the RST in the club's region) for resolution within a specified period, (rather than infringement notices and fines being issued, and dissolution threatened).
  3. That composition of club committees is not subject to section 47 of the new Act if the club is affiliated to a NSO and that actions of committee members are not subject to liability clauses where the NSO provides "combined association liability insurance" cover.

These are sensible, workable, pragmatic solutions to help preserve our sport club community, nationally. While Government may not repeal the new legislation, it is incumbent on everyone involved in community sport to suggest ways to lessen its impact.