As readers of the Wairarapa Times Age will be aware, dark clouds have been forming over the $1m Athletics Track in Masterton.
Last month, a 6 point inquiry was narrowly put to Masterton District Councillors Mark Harris, Jonathan Hooker and their athletics track by a majority vote on Council. The two lads had quite a shock when Mayor Lyn Patterson broke her own phalanx and prison-shanked the both of them by switching her vote at the last moment, which crucially got the notice of motion over the line. Patterson is a formidable politician and so it should have come as no surprise that once the blowflies started clustering around Harris and Hooker she pushed the eject button on them. This had the bonus effect of Crs McClymont and Hannon looking clammy and in a state of considerable distress as they the realised they unintentionally voted against the Mayor.
The $1m Masterton athletics track – or as Chief Reporter Don Farmer put it, the “curious” athletics track– has had lingering concerns as of late; namely personality clashes resulting in a large proportion of the athletes in Wairarapa being effectively “locked” out. But the inquiry going on in council actually has nothing to do to with that. The inquiry is a serendipity in that the financial operation of the track (overseen by Harris and Hooker) may have fallen foul of best practice- which is a rather generous way to put it actually. That will come out in due course once Cr. Harris eventually sorts out his answers and they can be read over. The reason I said just Harris and not Harris and Hooker is because Hooker has been distancing himself from Harris [why does that read so ridiculously- Catch 22 fans might know]. Firstly, the anecdotes i’ve heard of him saying he wishes he never met Harris, but more palpably in the telling emails he has been sending me:
Anyway, onto the main event:
All of the above has not stopped Harris from frantically manoeuvring his last couple of chess pieces around the board. Put simply, he is going to some lengths to add some legitimacy to his curious private operation he has going. It is an entirely smart move on his part, what with the dark clouds and blowflies and all that.
About a week ago Harris made a Facebook post calling for all 14 people of his club to come to a meeting:
Notice the part that says “….gut feeling is that we may be the only club that can achieve this [endorsement by Athletics NZ]…”.
That is very interesting indeed. It’s interesting because his club has a membership count that you could tally on your hands. The amount of active members could be even less, as evidenced by the survey Harris recent sent out that only 9 people responded to, of which 3 were Harris, his wife and an employee. I could name another local club that has ten times more paid up members, as well as regular events that attract hundreds and hundreds of people. Incidentally, this the club that is unable to use the publicly owned track with ease, owing to Harris refusing them entry because they won’t pay tribute.
The fact is the other club-Athletics Wairarapa- would be a shoo-in for the Wairarapa endorsement from Athletics NZ (ANZ), but they just don’t need to bother because their annual membership fees already include an affiliation of sorts. The reason Harris desperately wants this is so he can have this on his letter head:
…So Harris has invited some poor woman down or up to try and get her to give him a big stamp, in some desperate attempt to fortify his “standing”.
Just to drive home how small and unpopular his club is, look at the amount of people on Facebook who said they were coming to his meeting and AGM:
I just hope Athletics NZ do some due diligence on Harris before they even consider whether to give him a regional endorsement of any kind. It will be an egg to the face for them if charges are ever laid against him or Hooker, as well as that other much larger clubs are far more obvious choices. If I was them I would turn my nose up at a night of butt kissing and avoid that man like the plague.
If Athletics NZ need any confirmation of this, maybe they should give Cycling NZ a call and ask for an “off the record” chat about why Harris resigned.