Netball New Zealand has got the first part right, naming an experienced three-pronged panel to carry out the inquisition into the Silver Ferns' horror Commonwealth Games campaign.

Auckland lawyer Don Mackinnon will chair the panel, flanked by former Silver Fern Linda Vagana and Team New Zealand's chief operating officer and Round the World yachtsman Kevin Shoebridge.

But with the panel's recommendations non-binding, and set for peer review, the governing body understands it will need to be brave when findings are delivered to the NNZ board in mid-June.

Given the stature of those appointed to the panel, this review should deliver major, overdue changes to the sport. And if such recommendations are made, they must be followed through.


"Showing courage and leadership at this time is absolutely our intention," Netball New Zealand chief executive Jennie Wyllie said, refusing to confirm Ferns coach Janine Southby will be moved aside.

"We won't pre-empt any of the findings of the review. I have a lot of trust that this panel will do a really thorough job and we'll be able to take those findings and implement anything that is seen as the way forward for us."

Mackinnon's experience as NNZ director from 1999-2007, the last three as chair, offers important context about previous success of the Silver Ferns, and the lowest point they now sit after losing four matches to finish fourth and miss a Games medal for the first time.

The Auckland lawyer's presence as director of New Zealand Cricket since 2011, and experience on reviews of NZ Rugby League and the New Zealand Sports Tribunal, adds to his credentials to lead this netball panel.

"NNZ continue to run the sport," Mackinnon said. "We will simply make those findings and recommendations to them to decide how many of those they wish to implement.

"One of the advantages of the panel is while we have strong connections to netball and high performance sport, there is very much an open mind; there's no preconceptions. There is a strong determination to be fair and thorough."

Shoebridge's extensive time on board boats, and in the board room, brings a mix of cultivating team culture and knowing how high performance environments should function. With Team New Zealand, he has seen both success and failure.

Since the last of her 64 tests for the Ferns, Vagana has morphed into Pasifika community leader and general manager of Duffy Books in Homes. She was also head coach of Samoa from 2004-2011.


Phase one of the review involves the panel tackling the Ferns' Games campaign. Mackinnon has already compiled a list with over 30 interview subjects, ranging from players to coaches and technical specialists.

"I had to look very closely at my diary and what's coming up in the next month because it's a fairly daunting exercise," Mackinnon said. "It's an awful lot of work in a short space of time and it's the sort of thing you don't want to get wrong because New Zealanders are passionate about netball. I have a great love for the game myself. I care about the sport and love seeing it being successful so it's a great opportunity to see if I can help.

"I felt incredibly sad for the players and coaching staff because there was huge effort but it just wasn't working. It's a great opportunity to take an independent view of why certain things didn't work and see if we can remedy the situation."

Once the first initial report is presented to the NNZ board, phase two of the review involves assessing whether the right pathways are in place to promote and nurture players from school talent to world-class performers.

Somewhat strangely, the review will then be peer reviewed by former Silver Ferns captain Tracey Fear, and High Performance Sport New Zealand senior performance consultant Eddie Kohlhase.

For the next month, the process is largely out of NNZ's hands. But after a dire period in which the national team won six of their last 18 games, the time for leadership and decisive action is fast approaching.

"We're hugely disappointed both on and off the court and we carry that altogether," Wyllie said. "We know it's not just the players or the management it goes broader. Our team has been impacted. Everyone is very passionate about what they do and we've also got a real sense of the passion of Kiwis for netball so we have to get this right so we can lead the sport into the next phase."