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Sports clubs in holding pattern

Reactions from the region’s sports and leisure clubs to the demands of the new Incorporated Societies Act are mixed with many in “a holding pattern” as they await more clarity from national and regional sports bodies about what the changes mean for their players and volunteers.

The new act was introduced in 2022 to update the 1908 act under which local incorporated community sports organisations [ICSO] are registered.

Under the new legislation, ICSOs must re-register by April 2026 or face losing their incorporated status, affecting their ability to apply for funding and grants.

To re-register, clubs must comply with a raft of new requirements, such as preparing financial statements in a prescribed format, establishing internal dispute resolution procedures, filing annual returns, having a committee of at least three members and preparing a new constitution.

Simon Roseingrave, general manager of Wairarapa Cricket Association [WCA], “hasn’t delved too much into the finer details” of the new act “as we’ve left it at the national body level” – Sport NZ, the central government agency for sport in Aotearoa, and New Zealand Cricket – “to provide more details around what we actually need to do to align.”

“So, at the moment, there’s not massive nervousness for a regional sports organisation because I believe we have the capacity to deal with whatever the changes are.”

Greytown Sport and Leisure Society [GSLS] provides administrative and governance support to 16 clubs in Greytown.

“We don’t know the true impact of these changes on our clubs and volunteers yet”, GSLS executive officer Rosie Swanson said. “I understand that higher-level organisations and governing bodies will work on the detail. We will be here to support [the clubs] through the changes, and we’ll be across all the changes.”

While local ICSOs have 28 months to re-register, Gordon Noble-Campbell, chairman of the New Zealand Amateur Sports Association [NZASA] urges against complacency.

“The bottom line is you have to re-register your club under the new law no later than the drop-dead date [of April 2026]”, and that clubs operating on a seasonal basis or which meet irregularly “may have less than ten formal meetings with which to deal with all of this”, he said.

He advised clubs to include Incorporated Societies Act compliance on their next committee agenda if it wasn’t already.

“And you need, whenever you meet, to discuss what your plan is on how you are going to work from today through to achieving all the requirements by the drop-dead date.”

He also recommended appointing “somebody from your committee who is responsible for this project and who can actually work out who’s going to do what and by when.”

Rob Blackett and James Pringle, accountants with Sellar and Sellar in Masterton, encouraged clubs to “organise their thinking early” as the consequences of not acting in time could be significant.

“Those who do not reregister on time will cease to exist and will be removed from the [Incorporated Societies] register”, explained Blackett. “Losing incorporated society status could result in compulsory wind-up and the distribution of any remaining assets.”

“Don’t be afraid to start the work”, Pringle said.

Masterton Croquet Club has 82 members and appears to be heeding the advice to take early action.

Its treasurer, Raewyn Ward, is “slowly working through the process of revamping our existing constitution. I don’t feel any pressure doing this apart from the dispute resolution procedures.”

She’s found resources such as the Incorporated Society’s “comprehensive” constitution template useful and can access expertise in the club.

“We have two members with law degrees, and the CEO of Croquet New Zealand is also a member of our club. Therefore, their advice and help will be most appreciated.”

While she is concerned about the lag time as the national and then regional croquet bodies work through the changes, “it is not ‘rocket science’ in my opinion.”

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