From the Chair

A Message from John Coulam, HRNZ Chair

Greetings fellow harness racing participants. I’ve been one month into the role as Chair of HRNZ and it is now timely to bring you up to speed with the priorities facing the Board.

Firstly, thank you to Phil Holden who has fulfilled the position of interim Chief Executive over the last six months or so. Phil reverts to being an Independent Director of the HRNZ Board on 11 January and we welcome Gary Woodham into the Chief Executive position effective 11 January.

Positive News

Too often we can be distracted by negative matters when there is so much that is positive about this wonderful industry and the people who work in it.

Over the first four months of the season, harness racing turnovers show an 18.3% increase year to date and the HRNZ traffic light report as at 6th December reflects how well we are doing.

Sapere Venue Report in Relation to Otago/Southland Racing Venues

We have been advised that this report will not be completed until late January and made available to the HRNZ Board early February.

2021/22 Calendar

The consultation process around the 2021/22 racing calendar has started with the draft calendar being distributed to all clubs on 18 December. What each club has received is very much a draft reflecting the 2020/21 calendar. Once clubs have made their submissions and business cases in writing and the recommendations of the Sapere review are known and actioned, the end result will look different. The timeframe is tight, however, I encourage clubs to work with HRNZ to make submissions in either support of or against the status quo by February 5th. The Board will be considering the final draft in February. Please contact Catherine McDonald, HRNZ’s General Manager of Racing, with any questions around this process or to discuss possible options prior to making your submission.

Funding Models

Liz Bishop, HRNZ’s General Manager of Corporate Services, is working with a consultative group to further refine the funding model to clubs for next season and to review the funding to group and feature races. Part of this process is to define what expenses relate to the industry as opposed to individual clubs. This work will begin in January and will go to clubs for feedback in due course.

Social Media Policy

Work continues in the background developing the regulations around the social media policy. I wish to assure members that such regulations are being developed to deal with abuse and online bullying, not to restrict freedom of speech and debate of policies.

Strategic Plan

The HRNZ Board will be taking the feedback from the industry day and renewing the strategic plan for the industry. One thing that was clear from the industry day is that participants are calling for a professional approach at all levels of the industry. 

Animal Welfare

As an industry, we cannot take our social licence for granted. The new Minister for Racing has made it quite clear that animal welfare across all three codes is a top priority. This too is a priority for your Board and we have already made good progress in this area.

I wish all participants and families a happy and enjoyable festive season. Enjoy the racing, the company of others and keep the turnovers up!

John Coulam


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