'There is nothing to cover up' - Hockey NZ defends refusal to release entire report into Black Sticks women culture under Hager

Chair of the board at Hockey NZ Mike Bignell apologised to players today following a review into the environment in the Black Sticks women’s team. Source: 1 NEWS

Hockey New Zealand this afternoon released a summary of an independent review into the environment of the Black Sticks women's team, with the chair of the board at HNZ Mike Bignell denying the organisation is covering up anything.

The review made by Maria Dew QC, investigated the concerns of current and past Black Sticks women's players at the Hockey Players Association last year.

More questions have been raised as to why Hockey NZ haven't revealed the entire document.

"No I don't think we are trying to cover up anything at all," Bignell told reporters this afternoon at a press conference in Auckland.

"What we are trying to do is provide information that indicates what findings were in the review and how we are trying to move forward."

The review was made in September after 1 NEWS revealed former Black Sticks women's coach Mark Hager accidentally sent an email to the entire team in July last year that criticised several players at the World Cup in London.

The review draft was made in December 2018 and was finalised last month. A summary of the review made by Maria Dew QC was released today by Hockey NZ.

"It has been a long process and we have tried to make sure from the very start that confidentiality was at its very core," said Bignell.

"The draft report was issued to us in early December and was finalised in January.

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Mark Hager created a rift with his players and New Zealand Hockey after mistakenly sending a critical email to his team during the World Cup last month. Source: 1 NEWS

"We then had to take that review and ensure that people confidentially was accounted for and also find the time that was a natural break in the FIH Pro League to issue the statements. Particularly for the players who this is most important for.

"This was always a confidential process and we've put out some key findings of this review process to provide an indication of where we want to focus on going forward."

Hager resigned last month as head coach of the Black Sticks women's team and is now the head coach for the Great Britain and England women's teams.

"The final report that Maria [Dew - lawyer] put out was always provided to us and to the board. And we had to ensure that we met our legal obligations around confidentiality and privacy.

"That is why we had to take a little bit of time from that final report from being issued at the very early stages of January, where most Kiwis are on holiday.

"And work forward from there to get to today's point. The key findings that Maria has put out is what we have released today.

"No there is nothing to cover up. We had to start this process because we didn't know stuff and we needed to find that out."

Dew said in her report that HNZ systems "had failed to enable player issues to be responded to at the time."

Dew spoke to 33 players and half of the players that played for the Black Sticks women from 2016-2018 and 70 per cent of those players said they had concerns about the environment.

"The players have seen what you [media] have seen today and we shared that with them this morning," Bignell said.

"Because the process was all about confidentiality and that is what we have maintained throughout.

"We today do not know who has gone forward and spoken in part of that process and we need to make sure that that has stayed in place.

"We need to look forward now and take those recommendations and work with the players and the hockey community to make some changes based out of those findings."

Black Sticks players spoke to 1 NEWS about the negative culture within the squad while under Hager in August last year.

Recommendations in review:

* Establish a role which will have oversight of the welfare of the Black Sticks women, and be an extra communications channel

* Start a process to recruit a new head coach

* Appoint an HR professional to advise the board and sit on the people and culture committee

* Develop a workplace code of conduct

* Schedule opportunities for players to educate themselves on a HR policies, among them health and safety, well-being, discrimination, bullying and harassment