A Diverse and Inclusive Sport and Community – a message from the CEO of Bowls New Zealand

July 16, 2021

The Sunday Star Times produced a story (11-July-2021) on the behaviour of one of our top bowlers.

As CEO, I would like to share the response provided to the journalist on this matter.

If we can (for a moment) look beyond the bowlers name that headlined the article, the story is a great reminder that as a sport and community we should not tolerate appalling behaviour and sportsmanship, especially matters of discrimination. As a community we should be active in calling out peers that display this sort of behaviour. If we are the recipient of discrimination then I and the bowls community will support you through a complaints process.

My written response to the Sunday Star Times article:

“Our sport and community prides itself on being one of the most diverse and inclusive sports in the country. In the last couple of years:

Bowls New Zealand has introduced new competitions and events, that promote mixed gender competition; including Bowls3Five (2018) and the National Mixed Pairs (2021);

Bowls New Zealand adopted a Transgender policy (2020) to support the transgender athlete participating at elite level in our game;

Bowls New Zealand included the Parajacks in our national televised Bowsl3Five league (2019), one of the first NZ sports to match the para athlete with non-para at an elite (and televised) level;

Bowls New Zealand Nationals now includes all para disciplines in our National Championship (2020), previously they were separate; and

Bowls New Zealand’s new rangatahi strategy is entirely focussed on the in-active student; with an emphasis on our physically and mentally challenged youth.

Our vision is for a sport and community that is inclusive for ALL New Zealanders.

 Bowls New Zealand will not therefore tolerate matters of discrimination and bigotry. This is not a culture I, the bowls community or New Zealand should ever accept.

 As previously stated ‘Bowls New Zealand has an established system for handling Disputes and Misconduct involving members of the bowls community. This Judicial process is available to all members at club, regional and national level. It is a relatively simple process whereby the person alleging the Dispute or Misconduct informs the applicable club, centre or Bowls New Zealand and submits their judicial issue for a hearing.’

Following the story in the Sunday Star Times on the 11-July, Bowls New Zealand will be reinforcing to the wider bowls community a message of intolerance of discriminatory behaviour.

Whilst we refute any suggestions of a normalised culture of discrimination; the Sunday Star Times article is a good reminder for everyone in our community and New Zealand that matters of discrimination should not be tolerated.

Bowls New Zealand will not be standing Mr Lawson down from the national training squad following the Sunday Stars Times story.

As CEO, I will personally contact all those members of the bowls community that contributed to the Sunday Star Times story, providing them an opportunity to discuss and address any concerns through the formal Bowls New Zealand judicial process or the independent Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service.

Bowls New Zealand will be inviting any members of the bowls community who feel that they have been subjected to discriminatory behaviour to contact me directly (or The Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service) so that we can swiftly address any existing or historic concerns. Any accusations of discrimination will be supported through the formal Bowls NZ judicial process (or the independent Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service).”