Māori Board support NZ Rugby governance reform: “We must be brave”

The Māori Rugby Board has joined the public stoush over governance of the game on the eve of a crucial vote and it’s backing New Zealand Rugby’s plan.

At a special meeting tomorrow provincial unions and the Māori Board will vote on whether to approve a new process for an independently selected board, a plan supported by New Zealand Rugby and the Players Association (proposal 1), or go with a second proposal (proposal 2), which guarantees provincial union representation on the board.

In a statement, the Māori Board, chaired by Dame Farah Palmer, said it’s evaluated which proposal will benefit Māori (whānau, hapū and iwi) and all who engage in rugby and would unanimously agree to vote in favour of NZR’s proposal which essentially adopts all the recommendations of last year’s independent governance review.

“We support a fully independent Board, appointed by a panel of experts in governance and rugby leadership, for the benefit of the sport as a whole,” the statement said.

“Rugby governance in Aotearoa New Zealand is at a crossroads, and we need to work together to navigate into the future as one. The proverb from Ngāti Maniapoto ‘Kia mau ki tēnā, Kia mau ki te kawau mārō’ suggests our future wellbeing and destiny will be determined by the strength of our commitment to stand together in spirit, mind and purpose. The principles of whanaungatanga and kaitiakitanga (relationships and guardianship) are essential for NZ Rugby to survive and thrive in the future.”

The Māori Board believe governance change must be made now.

“The extensive consultation undertaken by the review group included Māori and the overwhelming feedback suggested the current governance structure, that has served rugby well for many years, is no longer fit for purpose. If we want rugby and the people within it at all levels to prosper in the future, we must adapt our governance structure.

“Rugby is facing some headwinds and we need the very best people with the right mix of skills and competencies on the Board to give our game and our people the greatest chance of flourishing. Ultimately, Proposal 1 reflects best governance practice. Let’s put aside our differences and be brave,” the statement said.

The Māori Rugby Board said while there will no longer be a Māori Representative on the NZR Board under the NZR proposal, the plan would still be in the best interests of Māori.

“Currently, the Māori representative is not required to have a relationship with Te Ao Māori or Māori Rugby. Proposal 1, through a fully independent Board and the Skills and Competencies Framework provides opportunity for more Māori to be considered for the NZR Board, ensures Māori representation on the Stakeholder Council, that the Appointments Panel will recognise the status of Māori as Tangata Whenua and that the connection between Te Ao Māori and rugby is acknowledged.

“The NZMRB will maintain the mana, rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga responsibilities to future proof ngā taonga katoa to benefit Māori and all who engage in rugby.”

Yesterday, the author of the review, David Pilkington, told RNZ he doubted his group’s recommendations would be accepted saying he expects a group of provinces who want the status quo to remain to supper the proposal.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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