Who Is Surfing New Zealand?





What are its goals? what are its objectives? Who runs it?

What does it do for you as a surfer?

posted 02 10 09

You would expect a Non Governmental Organisation, especially one that proclaims to represent a sport / recreational sector on a national level, to observe openness and transparency as a fundamental criteria  to it’s very own existence.

Especially when it recieves several hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, as well as that from other sponsors, to proclaim representing our sport, our recreation.

You would hardly expect the New Zealand Rugby Union for example, to allow property developers develop Athletic Park, without mitigating a new stadium for their players, or a spectacular river dammed for hydro, without the New Zealand Kayakers Association to protest.

So why has Surfing New Zealand kept quiet, and even  supported the Whangamata Marina Society by way of the CEO’s report to the 2008 AGM? GT:  “We think a marina at Whangamata will be a good thing for the town. ” this remark was penned by a NZPA acredited journalist, and I personally questioned GT over that statement at the time. I was shouted down by bruce’s mob when I spoke this.

This was said about a marina development, that has not proven one way or the other, whether there will be any detrimental impact to one of our nations most famous surf breaks? Why?

What page was Greg Townsend, Surfing New Zealand CEO, reading off?

Why did Bruce Scott and Mick Kelly, the president of the Whangamata Marina Society, speak in unison in the Feb/March 2006 issue of a  Surf magazine supporting the marina project?

The problem is that a surfer’s sports / play ground is the wide open spaces of Aotearoa, the very same wide open spaces that the developers contest for. We are all competing for the same space.

Surfing New Zealand itself, is a strategic asset. If you control SNZ, you control OUR officially recognised voice. Your rights on the other hand, as a surfer, have been silenced.


Back to the beginning.


Looking at the SNZ Website , or any other litrature, it would be hard to deduce exactly who make up the current committee of Surfing New Zealand.

The New Zealand Surfriders Association was formed in 1963, and later became Surfing New Zealand Inc.

Environmental issues were always a concern as it was recognised way back then, that commercial or private interests could take preference over public use. A clause was written into the NZSRA and carried forward to the new, SNZ to read:

2.2 To support and promote environmental concerns and other issues effecting water quality, the coastal environment and access to the coast.

This clause encompasses your sports ground, your playground, and potentially lends a voice to policy makers in the Coastal Marine Area, representing you as a surfer, as a stakeholder, in the CMA.

This clause was removed at a special general meeting of SNZ on August 29 2009, with only 6 clubs attending. Just a couple of months out from an AGM, Why weren’t the Surf rider clubs consulted over the constitutional review, as agreed to at the 2008 AGM?

So, Who Is Bruce Scott? the President of SNZ.


604 Port Rd Whangamata. directly opposite the Lazy Lizard Cafe

Scott resides in Whangamata. He is an architect and property developer, his business partners include, or have included the strategic Assets manager for Thames Coromandel District Council (this relationship ended coincidently? when confronted by Paul Shanks) and a very active, influential committee member of the Whangamata Marina Society, Ross Stewart, a surveyor who also spoke against me in the court case regarding the moko skink. As well as the original marina consent applications. Richard Lusk, now deceased, was the accountant for the marina society

During his term as Community Board member and Councillor, Scott promotes the illegal dumping into the wetland via dredging an alteration to the natural stream. He advised to get as much done as possible before the introduction of the RMA. the activity stopped after a conservationist complained to DoC. The vairiation is indicated by the red arrow in the picture below:




In 1996, Scott makes a submission in support of the marina at Whangamata. Scott’s own words from that submission:

My name is Bruce Robert Scott and I am a Registered Architect practicing in Whangamata. I have holidayed and resided in Whangamata since 1965, with a break of 9 years in Australia during which time I sailed several areas of the West and East coast together with visiting many marina’s “From 1986 until 1995 I represented Whangamata as a community Board Member, District Councillor and in my last term as Deputy District Mayor.

In 1974 my involvement with Jim Watt and the Moana point subdivision, a mutual interest in yachting and a recently completed degree thesis on marinas led to our identifying the current site in the Whangamata harbour for a marina and outline drawings were done to indicate possibilities. In 1986 /87 the community board, through district council, called for interest and design suggestions for a marina at the site of this current application”….

you can read the rest here. where Scott gives his full support for the marina.

In 1993 Scott introduces Tonkin and Taylor, consulting engineers to the Council, with regard to assessing the area for a marina. With a motion passed by Scott and Grant at the next WCB meeting, Scott is nominated to prepare a tender brief fo the harbour study.

1992 – 1993 was a big year for the marina developers, as internationally a lot of loose money was floating about. A lot of it landed around Whangamata.

The agreement to sell Council land for the marina, including price was publically excluded in 1994. The Council mover and seconder to sell the land was Scott and Grant Grant is a marina society member.

Scott goes on to speak in support of the marina at council and Environment court hearings.

During his last terms on Community Board / Council (Scott is elected in the dubious by-election of 1996) until 1998, Scott remains silent or unhelpful regarding the the leaking sewage pond, which in 1999 due to illegal dumping into the estuary (which cuntinues to this day) by the council, and poisons many surfers at Whangamata, and kills sea life in the estuary, and main beach.

Paul Shanks, previous President of the Whangamata Board riders club recieved a Green Ribbon Award from Environment Minister David Benson-Pope in 2007 for his exposing of the illegal dumping, and Paul’s efforts to clean up the water in Whangamata.

In 1999 Surfing New Zealand writes a letter to the WCB oppossing the marina. The letter is forwarded directly to the marina society by the WCB.

There are numerous council and even marina society documents with Scott’s name on them regarding the marina project.

Bruce Scott’s Son surfs. Scott becomes involved in SNZ as a grommet co-ordinator. No one that this author knows in Whangamata has ever seen Bruce Scott surf, although Scott mentions that he has, on a reasonably consistant basis, since 1963 in the afore mentioned Surf mag article.

In 2002 Bruce Scott is elected as President of SNZ, straight out of the blocks.

During the Environment Court Hearings SNZ remains silent on any concerns regarding the marina.

In 2005 just months before the Environment Court releases its decision on the marina Scott changes the SNZ rules at a hurriedly called Special General Meeting, at which one witness states “I did not know who was a member, and who was not.”

The main change to the constitution was so that individual members no longer had the right to vote. From now on only affiliated incorporated clubs could vote. Scott stated that :”there is a danger that a handful of individual members at an SGM could change the rules at a SGM.

Ironically Scott used the very same instrument he was complaining about, to change what he was complaining about.

In 2006 I initiated and succesfully won a campaign to remove a Jet Ski freestyle area from Lyall Bay, a dangerous activity on an inner city Surfing and swimming beach after much lobbying from myself and the Eastborne Surfriders club, SNZ finally, but reluctantly, signed an online submission regarding the jet ski area on the WRC website. SNZ ticked the wrong box, supporting the retention of the Jet Ski Area.

When I learnt of Scott’s Involvement in the Marina in 2006 I could not believe what was laid before me. How could this happen? How could an organisation representing the interests of surfers in the Coastal Marine Area be influenced by those who wish to exclude surfers from the Coastal Marine Area? The answer is simple. Take a look at Whangarei Hearing Association (go ahead and google) or start here

You see, infiltration from within regarding an incorporated society, is quite common practice, the motives may vary.

Andy Cranston, past president of Surfing New Zealand and Life member, a long time back started questioning Governance practices of the current regime, so what happens? Greg Townsend CEO of SNZ goes to Gisborne in the dead of night and talks about this troublesome priest, and how divisive he is, and not good for the future development of surfing in Gisborne. A national surf comp is waved under some noses, with a little cash incentive, (courtesy of SPARC) and hey presto! Andy is an outsider, isolated, and now SNZ have a compliant club in Gisborne.

The 2007 SNZ AGM

When I learnt all this, I informed my club, Eastbourne Surfriders, which was in the process of winding up because of dwindling membership. With the blessing of the executive I took the incorporated and affiliated clubs membership to the 2007 SNZ AGM with the intention to simply vote against the incumbent, Bruce Scott. I had been heartened by the fact that the progressive Trevor McKewen was standing for VP, with the blessing of ASP president Rabbit Bartholomew Although McKewen and Surfing Taranaki gave SNZ plenty of notice of intention to run for the vacant seat of Vice President no acknowledgement was recieved, or nomination posted on the SNZ website.

Scott knew of my opposition to him, and did everything he could to cancel Eastborne’s ability to vote. It was only allowed when Monique Davis of Wild Coast Boardriders pointed out that SNZ staff member Steve Ria had voting rights to a club that had been technically dead in the water since 2004, and had not paid it’s affiliation fee. This is an open and transparent NGB?

At the 2007 AGM Scott used the proxy vote of six south Island clubs via Mr Flanagan, and Murray Weir the (supposedly retiring VP until Mckewen threw his hat in the ring) VP had two voting rights, although protests were made, Scott as chairman forced the issue, despite that the SNZ constitution stated:

Clause 12.3 only authorised representatives of incorporated affiliated clubs present shall be entitled to vote, and no proxy votes shall be allowed.

To allow the vote to proceed, Scott stated that he had 3 legal opinions to say that it could, these legal opinions have never been circulated, despite many requests to do so. This impressive block vote led to the incumbents retaining their positions, and Surfing Taranaki witnessing corrupt governance practice.

Surfing New Zealand has a reputation for an entertaining AGM, but  2007 was a remarkable performance even for Bruce, and naturally, he recieved fan mail after the show.

Surfing Taranaki made repeated requests for a Special General Meeting to resolve the issue, stating their reluctance to push ahead for a Judicial Review of the AGM.

The review cost SNZ and Surfing Taranaki many tens of thousands of dollars that could have been spent elsewhere.

Requests for a Special General Meeting were flatly denied by Scott and O’leary, even though SNZ could not spare the funds for Judicial Review.

Judge Fogarty found in favour of Surfing Taranaki, but noted the value of sponsorship and feared the disruption to the commercial relationships, and suggested that it should be resolved ASAP with the next earliest date for the 2008 AGM.




More info about the Judicial Review can be found at the New Plymouth SurfRiders Club Website

With the fallout of the judicial review SPARC stepped in to Chair the 2008 AGM. The morning business was conducted without the presence of the south island clubs, but preceded because technically, a quorum existed.

So I turned up at the 2008 SNZ AGM with the newly incorporated Wellington Surf Riders club, many members and executive from the old Wellington Surfriders Assoc.

A new ruling had been made, all new clubs had to undergo a one year “parole” and submit activity documentation and membership lists.This was a first for SNZ.

I submitted an Activity list, but refused membership details pursuant to the Privacy Act. I was not allowed to cast a vote on behalf of our club.

At the 2008 SNZ AGM that morning, because of the well demonstrated unwise advice of SNZ committee member and Treasurer, Nigel O’leary regarding not co-operating with Surfing Taranaki, and costs acrued all round, the following motion was put forward:

Accountancy fees for SNZ.

Andy Cranston moved that SNZ consider tendering out accountancy and auditing fees for the organisation. Seconded Kelvin Louie. All in favour.

After the AGM, O’leary was voted back on the Committee, nothing was done regarding the above motion. O’Leary has recently been investigated regarding questionable business practices surrounding the collapse of the Jean Jones stores.


during the morning discussion revolved around the constitution, it was proposed:

That Surfing New Zealand undertakes a comprehensive review of the Surfing New Zealand constitution, subject to terms of reference being circulated by SNZ to members and agreed. New constitution to be submitted to a Special General Meeting of Surfing NZ no later than July 2009. Moved: Bruce Scott Seconded: Andy Cranston All in favour.



After lunch the south island clubs turned up from the airport, missing all the mornings business and detail about the committees past years performance. The delegates walked in, the candidates spoke for election, and were promptly voted back on the committee.


I spent much of the next six months in Whangamata and Auckland researching the marina issue.
On one visit back to Welly I heard that some guys were looking to set up a club to get some competitions going and I thought great! I attempted to get hold of Rico through a mutual acquaintance and I was told that Rico had sent several emails to me without a response. I received none.
When I finally caught up with Rico, he said he had been in touch with Ben Kennings of SNZ who advised him “It would be best to set up your own club and form a constructive relationship with SNZ because Gunson has a reputation of being divisive.”
Sound familiar?

Wild Coast Boardriders is based at Piha, they are well established strong progressive club with a wide support base. In 2008 Greg Townsend made overtures to speak privately with several members of the club regarding that clubs secretary, Monique Davis, everyone knew what Greg was doing, he was trying to interfere and dislodge Davis.

Divide and Conquor, that is how Surfing New Zealand is run, vote for Scott, and you get some crumbs tossed your way. Speak against him, and you and / or your club will be attacked.
on the 14th of August 2009 this notice was posted on the SNZ website:
For approximately the past twelve months the Surfing New Zealand Inc (SNZ) Board has been discussing with members both individually and collectively a proposed new constitution.  The purpose of the Special General Meeting is to table the proposed new constitution for approval.  Check out all the details inside.
On the 29th of August 2009 The Special General Meeting took place.

As for Greg Townsend the CEO,  is this guy really suitable to be CEO of Surfing New Zealand?

Scott made comment about my court case regarding the moko skink “could expose an organisation like SNZ to costs.” ? Where is his logic?

None the less, clause 2.2 was removed from the SNZ constitution  and changes made, to further remove accountancy and Democracy from your government funded body that is supposed to represent you, and protect our sports fields, our surfbreaks, our coastline.

To see the  changes made to the SNZ constitution, a comparison review has been written that explains the implications.

As a surfer I am disgusted that our National Body has the audacity to distance democracy and accountability from the thousands of volunteers that support it, the surfrider clubs of New Zealand and their members.

The Surfrider clubs membership provide the Surfing New Zealand executive with an income. The SNZ committee are steering the organisation toward a privatised model, yet rely on volunteers to sustain it.

If you are a member of a surfrider club that is voting at the 2009 SNZ AGM I encourage you to inquire as to whom your club is voting for. If you are not happy with this government funded body run by a property developer suppressing your rights and interests in the CMA, let it be known. Demand the rejection of the recent constitutional changes and vote for democracy.

I understand that Paige Hareb’s father Mike, has already resigned from the SNZ committee. I don’t know his reason why, perhaps when Mike was elected he was expecting a degree of honesty, integrity, and transparency. Then found none.

I also understand Bruce Scott is resigning this year, Scott blames me for making his position untenable.

I also understand that Steve Poulter is to be the next President of SNZ. Like the majority of surfers, I don’t know him. that is just the problem, the clandestine way in which SNZ operates means this organisation exists behind closed doors, distant and removed from the surfers they are supposed to represent.

Steve Poulter of Storm Contracting has previously been hired to conduct maintenance dredging of the unnatural access channel first implemented By Bruce Scott as Community Board member and Councillor, as this email attached to this historical dredging document describes.

The very certainty that Poulter is to be the next president, demonstrates the farcical democracy that SNZ purports to uphold.

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