28 Feb 2019

Hockey 'back flick' on review details

2:59 pm on 28 February 2019

The fallout over the review into the environment within the New Zealand women's hockey team has taken another twist with the national body back-tracking on statements it made when it unveiled its findings.

Hockey New Zealand chairman Mike Bignell speaking to media.

Hockey New Zealand chairman Mike Bignell speaking to media. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

After a five-month long process, Hockey New Zealand (HNZ) provided just a three-and-a-half page summary of the report compiled by independent reviewer Maria Dew QC.

The limited summary revealed at least half of those who played for the New Zealand women's team between 2016 and 2018 reported serious concerns about the environment under former longtime coach Mark Hager.

Asked if he could clarify what those serious concerns looked like or provide examples of those behaviours, HNZ board chair Mike Bignell denied the report included that level of detail.

"It is a very broad term. Maria has been very careful when undertaking the review to ensure the confidentality of anyone who spoke to her," he said.

"The report does not have significant examples on a blow by blow basis of what had happened. That is not what the purpose of the report was

"We still don't know who came forward, what they said, or even at an individual level."

But the national body has released a statement with clarifications from Monday's announcement, one of which specifically addresses Bignell's assertion.

"The report provided by Maria Dew QC very clearly sets out examples of the behaviours described by players who were interviewed.

"These matters were reported in the review.

"However, the incidents were not intended to be the subject of an employment investigation."

HNZ, though, were standing firm on their decision to release limited details.

Both the New Zealand Hockey Players Association and High Performance Sport New Zealand have expressed their disagreement with that move.

Former longtime Black Sticks women's coach Mark Hager.

Former longtime Black Sticks women's coach Mark Hager. Photo: Photosport

Players Association representative Heath Mills and HPSNZ chief executive Michael Scott have both said they would like more transparency, with both organisations receiving a heavily redacted version of the full report.

As they did numerous times on Monday, HNZ said that could not happen for one primary reason.

"Participants in the review were interviewed confidentially and on the condition of anonymity. This was critical to allow participants to speak openly about their experiences while protecting the privacy of all individuals.

"These Terms of Reference of the review were agreed with the Hockey Players' Association and High Performance Sport New Zealand.

"Hockey New Zealand needs to ensure it meets its obligations under the Privacy Act, protecting the employment rights of our employees (including our players).

"However, we do welcome the opportunity to meet confidentially with anyone who believes their concerns are not being addressed."

Businessman Sir Owen Glenn, who provides substantial funding to both Black Sticks teams, is also unhappy so much of the report has been restricted to the eyes of the HNZ board.

Glenn has frozen his funding of the women's squad, which was announced in October last year and amounted to $1 million over the following two years.

He was also angry the situation had led Hager to leave his decade-long post with New Zealand in early January to coach the Great Britain women's side.

Glenn told Newstalk ZB he felt Hager had been "constructively dismissed" and called for the HNZ board and the players association to be taken to task before he considered restoring his funding of the team.