Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

New crisis for Team New Zealand as chairman quits

Keith Turner ended his directorship of the team last Monday.
Keith Turner ended his directorship of the team last Monday.

Team New Zealand are facing further leadership changes with Keith Turner resigning as chairman of the syndicate after just over a year in the post.

According to documents filed with the Companies Office this morning, Turner ended his directorship of the team last Monday.

Turner was part of a new five-strong board appointed to the Kiwi syndicate in April last year after Economic Development Minister Stephen Joyce called for a stronger governance structure if the team wanted to be considered for additional sponsorship. The team only had two directors at the start of the last America's Cup campaign, but that whittled to one when director and Queen's Counsel Jim Farmer had to resign to participate in a safety review.

"With the fact there seems to be little prospect of special government funding the original need for a board of five doesn't stand," said Turner.

Turner, who holds directorships with Fisher & Paykel and Chorus, said he did not feel he was able to give the Team NZ post the proper time and energy from his base in Tauranga.

"I've found it very time consuming and that has put a lot of pressure on me from an availability point of view. It's very difficult from Tauranga, if you want to have a one hour meeting in Auckland it will cost me the whole day. So the chair will be far better residing in Auckland."

Turner has endured a rocky tenure with Team NZ as the syndicate dealt with a strong public backlash following their pleas for further Government funding, and fall-out from the poorly handled departure of former skipper Dean Barker.

He leaves the team at a time when their future in uncertain, with the Government last month confirming they would not be investing in Team NZ's next campaign after America's Cup authorities reneged on an agreement to award Auckland hosting rights for the qualifying series. Team NZ are still fighting to have Auckland reinstated as the host of the America's Cup qualifiers in early 2017.

Turner said he is unaware if a new chair has been appointed in his place.

"The matter of the board and how the company goes forward is under discussion. But I haven't been involved in those conversations for a week now, so I can't really speak to that," he said.

Team New Zealand officials were not immediately available for comment.

- NZ Herald

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