Two further Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union board members have resigned less than a week after the resignations of fellow board members Simon Tremain and Taine Randell.
Respected businessmen Kevin Atkinson and Dan Druzianic annouced their decision to step down this morning and said a "governance overhaul" was the only way forward for the union.
Both men confirmed their support of the earlier resignations of Mr Tremain and MR Randell, and urged the local rugby clubs to call for a governance review including the appointment of at least six new board members.
Mr Atkinson said the four resigning board members had attempted to make changes for a number of years but their patience had been stretched to the point there was no other option but step down.
Mr Atkinson, the current chairman of Hawke's Bay DHB and Unison, said strong board governance was the difference between a high performing and poor performing organisation.
As one of only a few chartered fellows of the New Zealand Institute of Directors, the highest level of board director, he says fundamentally the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union is not following good governance practices.
"I've set high values around governance and when board leadership dismisses standard agenda items such as 'board only time' to enable discussion around board matters such as succession, then this is goes against my principles.
"The future success of HB Rugby is what we need to focus on and that starts with good governance and leadership.
"We now hope that the clubs will step in and call some form of independent governance review, possibly from New Zealand Rugby Union or Sport New Zealand.
"We've freed up four spaces on the board, two club appointees and two independent appointees. It's now up to the clubs to put forward two young top candidates, then appoint two new independents, ideally one being a woman.
"We also hope that they not only replace those that are leaving but also consider the positions of the other two remaining independents and set a timeline for the succession of the current chairman.
The Hawke's Bay Rugby Union constitution has no restriction on the number of three terms for club appointed and independent board members. The club appointed board members appoint the independents, who on a three year rotation can be re-elected. Mr Atkinson and Steve Lunn have been independent board members for 19 years.
"This needs to change, tenure doesn't always reflect ongoing performance. The future of the union is people that are the calibre of Simon, Dan and Taine and I would like to see a new generation and style of leadership.
Mr Druzianic said it was important the rugby union's commercial partners stuck with the union, saying that the current situation will eventually lead to a positive outcome.
"I encourage current and potential sponsors to stick with the union. We hope our decision paves the way for a modern direction for the union, starting with a more effective and relevant board.
Mr Druzianic said other sport organisations have faced similar issues and had become much stronger.
"You only have to look at the NZ Rugby Football Union which has acknowledged some its shortcomings especially in board diversity by appointing their first ever woman board director.
"Hawke's Bay is a bit of an old boys network and we need to ensure that this changes. In the past we haven't advertised for independent directors, which I see as a must and the board needs to prove that it is willing to be more diverse."