New Netball South chairman Paul Buckner. Photo by Peter
There is a lot of talk about combinations in netball. You
would not get the ball from one end of the court to the other
without all the players working together. The same is true for
the game's administrators.
If the newly formed Netball South - a merger of Netball Otago
and Netball Southland - is going to be a success, both
regions need to buy into the concept, chairman Paul Buckner
The 52-year-old Dunedin lawyer is, in a sense, a sort of
Laura Langman figure. But instead of linking the defence with
the attack, it is his role to bring Otago and Southland
together under one happy banner.
That is a big challenge and he is a realist. The rivalry is
"There will always be a rivalry and that is how it should
be," Buckner said.
"But people have to accept that Otago and Southland are
Netball New Zealand's decision to move from a regional
structure to zone-based model meant Otago and Southland was
forced to merge.
There is now just one governance structure rather than the
three previous organisations which used to run the Steel,
Netball Otago and Netball Southland.
The delivery of netball to the community has been streamlined
but Buckner is confident the service will not be compromised
and the game's grassroots will continue to be well-served.
Still, he was surprised by Netball New Zealand's decision not
to separate the professional and amateur wings of the sport.
Rugby, of course, has gone the other way and Buckner wondered
whether netball should follow suit.
"It is interesting. I asked the same question up in Auckland
to the New Zealand board. They've done a lot of research and
believe they have got it right, which means rugby has got it
wrong. We'll have to see where that goes ...but I actually
like the idea of the franchise being owned by the two
"We've got the one structure now and we've got the
opportunity to promote the Steel and get the buy-in in
One of the first jobs for the newly formed board will be to
appoint a chief executive. That appointment is expected to be
announced early next week.
There was a shortlist of three candidates and Buckner was
confident the board had found the right person for a key
"The CEO will be based in Invercargill but we need to see
that person in Otago and to move around the region."
The Steel has been guilty of not doing enough to build its
profile in Dunedin and the board of Netball South is
determined not to repeat that mistake.
The headquarters has to be based in Invercargill so Netball
South can dip into the funds of the Invercargill Licensing
But, while there is no agenda to shift camp to Dunedin,
Buckner did not rule out a move at some time in the future.
"Invercargill is where our funding is but it doesn't mean it
"It would be a lot easier if that funding could be used
throughout the region. But there are other funders out there
who we might come across.
"There is absolutely no agenda to move ... but where it is in
two or three years' time is not set in stone."
Buckner is married and has three adult children. As well as
his work with netball, he is a commissioner for New Zealand
Cricket and is a former president of the Otago Rugby Referees