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11 November 2022

LETTER: Questionable funding allocations

Thursday 12 January 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


LETTER: Questionable funding allocations

Dear Editor, I write as a solo mother unhappy with our national sports committee CISNOC’s decisions with respect to funding allocations.

I speak for my son who has represented the Cook Islands at the Tokyo Olympics in K1 paddling but due to CISNOC, did not receive an Olympic Scholarship funding for it, and his application for a Paris Olympic scholarship was not submitted to the IOC. He is 18 years old and a talented paddler.

He won the Oceania U16 Men K1 200m title in Sydney February 2020, in November national titles for surf ski, K1 200m, 500m, 1000m and January 2021 CISNOC Junior Sportsman of the Year award.

In August, he set a personal best of two seconds faster at Tokyo Olympics in Open Men K1 200m. But CISNOC don’t think he’s worthy of an Olympic Scholarship as a future athlete.

I speak for all the parents who have watched their talented children be underrepresented by CISNOC.

Both times he applied for the Olympic Scholarship worth NZ$19,500, CISNOC preferred athlete “A” who is ten years older, who used to paddle K1 five years ago. “A” was given a scholarship but it was removed because his performance didn’t meet his ‘scholarship obligations’, he had a chance and blew it. CISNOC involvement in my son’s scholarship process has put the canoe federation into dissention two years running and leaving him to self-fund.

CISNOC have a National Activity Programme (NAP) funding available from IOC of $100,000+USD per year. We and were told 50 per cent will be paid before the Olympics and 50 per cent after. The Olympics were held in August 2021, we received the first payment in December 2021, and as of January 2023 we are still waiting for payment.  I used my credit card to pay Olympic costs, not covered by fundraising, as have other parents and athletes

My son and female K1 athlete were minors, travelling when Covid, lockdowns and isolation were a serious threat. We sent her father as manager to look after them. CISNOC appointed an athlete manager for the CI team of adults. She travelled different dates to the kids. CISNOC deducted the manager’s costs of over $7500 between both kid’s first payment. This meant I was unable to pay my visa.

CISNOC are blaming IOC for federations not receiving their NAP funding. The only reason CISNOC will have trouble receiving funds, is if they do not have an audit by one of three firms – Price Waterhouse Cooper, Ernst Young or Deloitte. CISNOC publicly dismissed the (former) general secretary in 2018 for fund mismanagement but were given a clean audit. This is why CISNOC should change auditors so it can assist them to get more funding faster.

When I asked CISNOC for a meeting to discuss my son’s failed scholarship application, I received an email 10 days later, saying a meeting is unnecessary, but due to their ‘obligation’ to our culture of family, they answered by email and suggested I move on.   

CISNOC have a goal of three qualifiers for Paris Olympics. Our female slalom athlete qualified for Tokyo and made the semifinals. An amazing achievement ticking boxes of equality, equity, gender, role model and Olympic qualifier. CISNOC did not submit my son or the qualified slalom athlete to IOC.

Instead, they submitted two names for Oe Vaka – a non-Olympic sport. Their action was not supported by Oceania or International Canoe Federation. Why did CISNOC remove a qualified Olympian? Her qualifying helps them reach their goals.

I want to know why my son is not considered able to help meet their goal of 25 medals at the next Pacific Games? He beat “A” at 2020 Nationals when “A” got the scholarship. What more can he do to win CISNOC’s favour? Athlete “A” is not our best paddler. He has a job at CISNOC. The Pacific Games 2022 when sports federations had to pay $8000 to send an athlete, CISNOC paid for “A” to go as a ‘staff’ so he could compete. I find this a nepotist breach of the proper use of funding. “A” didn’t medal.

Athlete “A” will receive NZ$950 per month, to paddle in the lagoon with no pressure to qualify. My son moved to Auckland to work 10 hours a day to pay costs of representing Cook Islands at Tokyo Olympics.  

Members of ONOC (Oceania National Olympic Committee) said the problems of funds not reaching athletes is not from their process or IOC, it is due to CISNOC. Our first-tier athlete Alex Beddoes is still waiting for his scholarship for Paris approved in September 2022, when other Pacific islands got theirs in December 2021.

CISNOC know how to work the system. They get VIP passes to the Commonwealth or Olympic games villages for their own family, while athletes’ parents pay to watch in the public stands. The same people have been feeding off free trips and event benefits for years. Complaints have been reported.

Appointments within CISNOC never seem to be advertised but family and friends get to work there – siblings, parents and children, husbands and wife. Re-election for chef de mission hasn’t happened as it should have.

CISNOC were investigated by Messrs Baudinet and Stoddart in 2011. They found theft and fraud by the then general secretary; he was dismissed no charges laid. In 2018 the general secretary was dismissed for the misappropriation of funds, no charges laid. In 2019 office secretary and ex treasurer of Athletics CI convicted of theft of $11,000 destined for Pa Enua children. They have not repaid the full amount. In 2020 they were back working for CISNOC. The chef de mission took over the Athletics treasurer position, from their spouse. They obstructed the investigation, and despite complaints, remains as chef de mission.

In 2022 a CISNOC vice president was charged with assault of female with a weapon. He was not asked to resign and travelled with female athletes to Commonwealth Games. What message does this send to athletes?

I acknowledge CISNOC have implemented training programmes and ticked boxes for IOC. The running of CI Games has been a great experience for all. However, overriding these better actions, is always the question ‘where is the money?’. Funding is available, but only through CISNOC. Therein lies the problem.

CISNOC may call me a disgruntled mother but if every athlete, parent, coach and federation get paid NAP 2021 owing and are paid upfront for 2023 and beyond in a timely manner – then I will be justified.

I’m working with the coach to find my son funding, while he works to afford his training costs. He is young, he has the ‘call of the wild’ tempting him, he is going it alone knowing he does not have the support of his country. If he quits, I won’t blame him, but we will lose another athlete with potential. His story is like many athletes who have quit, due to questionable funding allocations. It must stop.

Ruta Mave

Response – CISNOC said members who have issues with the funding allocation and other concerns are welcome to attend a workshop held a week before their AGM.


Hana Tearii Vaatau May on 14/01/2023

We started to read your article & knew what the article was about before reading who the author was. We just shook our heads & asked why has CISNOC done that & why are they (staff at CISNOC) still there. I agree with your article, there should be a changing o0f the guards someone who is bias (where do we find them?) I am appalled at the lame & predictable response that CISNOC provided. They have no intention of getting their hands dirty or be dragged through the dirt all lies & really lame. We hear of parents whose child/ren who did well at International sporting events, but weren't picked to represented the Cook Islands (replaced) & hadn't received funding they were suppose to have received from CISNOC who seemed to want to put blame elsewhere (IOC/ONOC). These same parents have dealt with CISNOC & after a while of tooing & frowing were worned down by CISNOC's unfair game. Come on CISNOC play fair (isn't that your motto or do those words have no relevance?) Good on you Ruta - hope you finally get the backing of those parents to support you, you're fighting for them too.