Over the last few years the Avondale Bowling Club has been so badly managed that eventually over 50% of its members requested Auckland Bowls to step in and manage the club. After extensive investigations led by appointed Commissioner Gerard Hulst, Auckland Bowls was of the opinion that the Board of Avondale Bowling Club had failed to manage the club to the standards required and in doing so brought the club and the sport into disrepute. The actions of the Board members were not in line with the Objects of the club, nor in the best interests of the club or the sport.
As a result of these investigations Auckland Bowls set up an Independent Judicial Committee with the support of Bowls New Zealand to hear allegations of misconduct by the Avondale Bowling Club Board. The alleged misconduct included amongst other things the selling of club land well below market value which was then on sold the same day for a large profit by the new owner. The club also lost and failed to regain its liquor licence as a result of a lack of control over drinking which resulted in opposition to renewal from neighbours and the police.
Auckland Bowls sought a life ban for all members of the Avondale Bowling Club Board from ever being able to serve on a board, committee or sub-committee of any bowling club with New Zealand and from holding a paid position of any description with any bowling club.
The independent Judicial Committee has released its decision. A summary of its decisions are:
- Auckland Bowls allegations of misconduct are proved
- The Board members of the Avondale Bowling Club – Pat Bell, Keith Walker, Rhianne Tippett, Rachel Benge, Alfreda Williams, Dennis Estall, Peter Hunt and Aaron Drever have been suspended indefinitely from serving on a board, committee or sub-committee of any bowling club within New Zealand and from holding a paid position of any description with any bowling club.
- In the respect of Mr. Bell, after a period of 10 years from the making of this order, and in respect of the other respondents, after 5 years from the making of this order, a bowling club which wishes to utilise the services of any respondent for an assisting role in the nature of greenkeeping or coaching, may apply to Bowls New Zealand and its Centre for consent to employ or appoint the respondent on such terms as Bowls New Zealand and the Centre consider appropriate.
- In the respect of Mr. Drever, it is noted that he is no longer a member of any bowling club, and direct, to the extent that it is within our powers, that he never be admitted to membership of any bowling club or have any advisory role with the club.
The decision means that the members in question will still be able to remain members of their chosen bowling club and continue to enjoy playing privileges with the exception of Aaron Drever.
The Auckland Bowls Board is pleased with the outcome of the hearing. We cannot allow clubs to be mismanaged in the way that Avondale Bowling Club has been in recent years. It is important that committee members of any club understand that they have significant responsibilities to run the club to the highest possible standards in all aspects of club governance and management.
Auckland Bowls amended its Constitution last year with the support of the clubs, in part because of the issues experienced at the Avondale Bowling Club, in particular with the sale of land.
The Constitution now requires all clubs to consult with Auckland Bowls at the earliest possible time, and at least three months before any General Meeting being held to decide on any proposal which involves changes to land ownership, major facility redevelopment, amalgamation or winding up.
This change will ensure that all clubs receive the best possible advice before making any significant financial decisions. Auckland Bowls wants to work with clubs in a proactive and transparent manner for the good of both the club in question and the sport in general.