Boards We Help

At Board Clarity we specialise in helping boards and trusts to become more effective and efficient. Our clients include national charities, health organisations, national sports bodies, businesses and large non-governmental organisations (NGOs) throughout New Zealand.

Client: Greyhound Racing New Zealand
Greyhound Racing NZ is the national body for the administration, promotion and development of greyhound racing.  It is one of three racing codes, each governed by a professional board in accordance with the Racing Act 2003. The board consists of four club nominated Directors and three board appointed Directors.

Programme Components: Pre-reading – “Corporate Boards that Create Value”, 1-to-1 Director & CEO interviews, board observation, 1-day Policy Governance® Principles workshop, Governance ‘Manual Blitz’ session, and then five months follow-on coaching for the Board, CEO and other managers.

Governance Consultant, Cam Brinsdon, was engaged by the board in October 2016 to deliver the first phase of this governance development programme, with the second phase being completed in 2017.

“As a fresh CEO at GRNZ, I encouraged the board to engage Cam to undertake Board Clarity’s full governance programme. I had come across Cam’s work while I was CEO of Rugby League New Zealand. I felt this quality approach to professional governance would be a good fit with the internal transformation programme I was undertaking. The programme is delivered on a fixed fee basis and proved to be great value for money.”
Phil Holden, CEO, GRNZ

“Our Directors bring an amazing depth of racing and business experience. In terms of governance, there are new Directors and others with multiple professional directorships. Cam’s delivery style and ongoing coaching ensured the programme was inclusive and relevant to all. I particularly appreciate that this systematic approach to governance allowed us to formally capture our collective values as a board, including policies that promote animal welfare as a key priority.”
Craig Rendle, Chief Governance Officer, GRNZ   

Client: Child Cancer Foundation
What: Carver Guides, 1-to-1 interviews, board observations and a 1-day Policy Governance® Principles workshop, ‘Manual Blitz’ workshop, interviews and follow-on coaching for board members and incoming CEO

With 22 branches throughout NZ, the Child Cancer Foundation (CCF) provides and coordinates a range of support services in local communities with the aim of ensuring that every child and their family walking the child cancer journey will never feel alone.

CCF’s Chair engaged Cam Brinsdon (Board Clarity) in 2013 to deliver both phases of the governance development programme over a four month period. Then in 2014 Cam worked alongside the Robyn Kiddle, the incoming CEO, coaching both Robyn and the board as they implemented the Policy Governance model. Cam also spoke at the CCF’s 2013 National Conference, highlighting the complex choices their board faced and how these decisions required CCF branch and membership input.

The CCF board is an evenly balanced mix of prominent business leaders and family members with first-hand experience of child cancer. Using the Policy Governance model means it now has a clear framework which ensures a collective focus on the priorities of children with cancer and their families.

“The systematic nature of Policy Governance allows me as a CEO to know a lot about the organisation. Within the given framework I can ask a lot of questions that need to be answered and it certainly empowers me to do the job.

It also allows for better structure of board meetings – and that’s definitely working for us. Our meetings are now focused and completed in a timely manner which is important given the voluntary nature of our board members.

In terms of providing clarity, the Policy Governance model enforces the distinction between governance and management well. When board discussion wanders to operational matters, I can refer board members back to the relevant policy to clarify where the delegation and responsibility lies. As well as serving as a practical reference point, the monitoring reports also give the board a sense of surety as they have a tangible means by which to monitor our policies, and can see evidence of enforcement.”

Robyn Kiddle, CEO


Client: The Marlborough Dairy Development Trust
What: Carver Guides, 1-to-1 on farm interviews, Governance Development Adapted Policy Governance® Principles Workshop

The Marlborough Dairy Development Trust project was established with the specific aim of increasing the profitability and sustainability of dairying in the Marlborough area through the promotion of various Dairy NZ initiatives. The initial project catchment is some 60 Marlborough farms but the reach will ultimately be all NZ farms.

Cam Brinsdon was engaged to facilitate governance training for trust members responsible for a dairy demonstration farm that had been running with industry funding. Adapting the Policy Governance model to suit the particular situation, Cam undertook farm visits, conducting the pre-training 1-on-1 interviews on each member’s ‘own turf’ before running the governance training workshop.

“Cam facilitated a session that got the Trust members to carefully think about what the role of the Trust actually was. As a result, clarity of purpose was properly defined. It also then became clear what actions the Trust was accountable for delivering, and what actions the farmer operating their farm as the current Marlborough Focus Farm was accountable for delivering. There was also a powerful discussion and agreement achieved about the obligations of the individual Trust board members and the behaviour standards that had to be met.

Meetings that used to take hours are now completed in a much shorter timeframe, with everything properly discussed and clear decisions made. Issues that had been unresolved for meeting after meeting are now resolved in the allocated session because the Trust board members are making sure they are properly prepared. People no longer feel over-burdened by their role and have started to really enjoy their involvement.”

Adrian van Bysterveldt, Governance Advisor – Large Businesses, Dairy NZ


Client: Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand
What: Carver Guides, 1-to-1 interviews, board observations, 1-day Policy Governance® Principles workshop, ‘Manual Blitz’ workshop, plus follow-on coaching for board members and incoming CEO

The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand is a national membership organisation that provides support and services to community pharmacy owners. They are committed to ensuring members realise their professional and financial potential in today’s challenging business environment.

Cam Brinsdon was engaged by the board in June 2013 to deliver the first phase of their governance development programme, with the second phase being completed in the latter part of the year.

At the time Cam was engaged, the board had just completed a period where they needed to provide hands-on, day-to-day management. A focus of Cam’s engagement was to re-establish a healthy separation of board and CEO roles. The governance development programme, whilst transformational for the board, also provided an extensive orientation for the new CEO, Lee Hohaia.

“The Policy Governance model helps you identify why you’re really doing your board role; what your purpose is. It helps identify that everyone’s time is valuable and focuses on ensuring we get the governance job done.

It helps us have more constructive meetings and if we’re getting to an impasse, gives us somewhere to go to gain clarity – either back to the Principles of Governance, or to the Manual. It also provides a framework for discussion that makes it easy to bring people back on track if they’ve gone off on a tangent.

Because by their nature boards are made up of diverse personalities and skill sets, it’s great for ensuring boards and board members make best use of their time, when they want their time to count.

Adopting the model does require some commitment, but it is worth it. In a fiscally challenged environment, Policy Governance definitely makes a board more efficient and more productive.”

Karen Crisp, Former CGO/Chair (and acting CEO 2012 – 2013)

“Changing the way we report to the board has been most beneficial. Members now receive relevant, clear information which has resulted in meetings being more focused. Time is spent more productively around strategic thinking as we no longer get caught up discussing operational detail – this is definitely a successful outcome for us.”

Lee Hohaia, CEO

Governance Development Update: “With a new Pharmacy Guild CEO and many new board members, we asked Cam Brinsdon back to facilitate a refresher workshop as part of our 2017 strategic retreat in Nelson. This workshop helped us crystallise our understanding of governance versus management accountabilities, the board’s role of being servant leaders to our membership and the importance of focusing on outcomes, rather than services, that our members value. “    

         Graeme Blanchard, CGO/Chair (2017-)


Client: CCS Disability Action
What: Two day, Full board Policy Governance® training

CCS Disability Action is a not-for-profit organisation that supports and services people with physical disabilities in New Zealand and advocates for their rights. The national board of CCS Disability Action has been working with the Policy Governance model for a number of years. But before implementing a new strategy, the board decided to engage the services of external governance specialists to support the organisation at this crucial time.

Board Clarity was engaged to lead a two-day board Policy Governance training workshop. Prior to the workshop, facilitator Sandy Brinsdon spoke with a number of board members to gain an appreciation of the board’s current capability with Policy Governance. She discovered the board was already strong on parts of the model but value could be added in other areas.

The workshop gave the board members a deeper understanding of Policy Governance principles and how they applied to CCS. Importantly, the board members were also able to learn more about each other, discuss board values as a whole group and complete their governance policy manual to enable the board to function more effectively.

“We really appreciated the facilitation style of Sandy; she challenged our thinking and made a great allowance for the board’s conversation to develop but could still stem it when required. Sandy knew her subject thoroughly and had relevant experiences and stories. It was great to make the model come alive and to leave with a resource.”

Wendy Coutts, Board Chair


Client: Central Kids Kindergartens
What: Full Policy Governance® development programme, plus 1-to-1 support for new directors in 2014

Central North Island Kindergarten Trust (Central Kids Kindergartens) is a $20 million dollar operation made up of 48 kindergartens and eight full day-care centres. The professional leader team and administration staff members are centrally located in Putaruru. The board has gone from strength to strength in recent years, including the appointment of key educational and business directors. Board Clarity was engaged in 2012 to deliver their full governance development programme. Since then, Cam has been back to help with strategic sessions and CEO monitoring reports, along with providing one-to-one support to two new Directors at the end of 2014.

“For the first time across my 18 years of involvement, our organisation has a thoroughly professional governance board which is very clear about their purpose.

Board members come to meetings already knowing the answers to questions they may have otherwise had. It has made us look at, absolutely focus on and monitor the core issues rather than getting unnecessarily caught up in everyday minor operational matters. This has made our meetings more meaningful, we certainly achieve more and enjoy the process.”

Jan Ballantyne, CEO


Client: Artena Society
What: Pre-reading, 1-to-1 interviews with directors and CEO, delivery of Policy Governance® Principles and Manual Blitz workshops in 2012, followed with on-going support and coaching

Artena Society Limited was a cooperative of New Zealand tertiary education providers established in 1997. The cooperative ran on a strictly commercial basis to develop and maintain a powerful, easy-to-use student management system. In 2012, Board Clarity delivered the two-phased governance programme, continuing to support the CEO and board members throughout 2013 and 2014.

The CEO Kerrin (Kerry) Marshall proactively led the implementation with a strong focus on risk management and business results. Unsurprisingly given the systematic nature of their product, the systems thinking behind the Carver Model’s conceptually coherent approach to governance was appealing to all involved. Feedback after implementation was that the initiative was instrumental to the Board clarifying its strategy and putting in place stronger links with the cooperative’s owners.

“Efficiency and clarity are two specific benefits gained from the Policy Governance model.

The training enables the Board to successfully apply the model and removes the practice of long debate over irrelevant pieces of information. Rather than taking a micro-management approach, the Board can stay on top of the strategic direction and consider the Chief Executive’s actions and intentions. Our meetings have a clear purpose focused on the quality of the work of the Chief Executive and the evidence that is available to support decisions. This focus increases efficiency.”

Lawrence Arps, Former Board Chair

“What we received from Cam was not at all what I had expected – which was standard everyday governance training – it was much better. Working with him, the board gained a clear view about how things needed to look when acting in the company’s best interests, plus he provided a framework – Policy Governance – around which to do this. The training has certainly enabled board members to focus on core business.”

Kerry Marshall, Former CEO


Client: WellStop
What: Carver Guides, 1-to-1 Interviews, and a one day workshop on Policy Governance® Principles; Board Observation; Manual Blitz workshop, implementation support, on going coaching support for two years.

WellStop provides professional specialist treatment services to adults who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour and children with concerning sexual behaviours. With coverage from Gisborne to Taranaki and through on down to Wellington, the organisation “enhances community safety by working to prevent the next incident of sexual abuse.”

Keen to support their new CEO, Lesley Ayeland, (who had been internally promoted following a competitive recruitment search) WellStop’s board, consisting of some experienced, well-seasoned business leaders, was attracted to Policy Governance as a system due to its focus on governance versus hands-on management. This approach allowed the board to empower their CEO, while still fulfilling its accountabilities for results and risk, without ‘meddling’ in operational business.

“I found the training exceptional. It effectively broke down the key elements of governance (the different sorts of roles and processes) and better crystallised governance for me in the course of seven hours than a week long course I’d previously attended.

It was also really good to work through policies and processes, taking general suggestions and applying them to our policy drafts. It ended up being a very practical exercise as we were then able to immediately implement our first set of policies as a result.”

Dr Peter Bushnell, CGO/Chair


Client: Purapura Whetu Trust
What: Carver Guides, 1-to-1 interviews, board observations, 1-day Policy Governance® Principles workshop, ‘Manual Blitz’ workshop, plus follow-on coaching for board members and CEO

Purapura Whetu Trust is a kaupapa Maori Mental Health provider based in Christchurch. Working from a uniquely Maori base, its services are open to all and at no cost to clients.

The organisation empowers tangata whai ora (people seeking wellness) to reach their full potential through personal growth, positive mental health and wellbeing. By addressing the cultural and spiritual needs of Maori alongside mainstream health and social services, they help people achieve hinengaro (mind), tinana (body), wairua (spirit) and whanau (family) wellbeing.

Purapura Whetu operates within the rohe of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu (TRoNT) and is an affiliate member of Ngai Tahu’s health and social services Maori development organisation, He Oranga Pounamu.

Actively seeking out suitable board training on the back of an organisational restructure, the full solution of the programme offered by Board Clarity appealed to Purapura Whetu’s board, as did the fact that the appropriateness of this governance approach had already been tested by First Nation trusts in Canada.

“Historically our board’s behaviour was typical of a traditional board model; we would spend a lot of time discussing what happened last quarter. We had a good relationship but were looking for a forward looking model – for something new to bring role clarity, boundaries and help maintain our purpose – and we found Board Clarity and Policy Governance.

Taking a more uniform approach, working through the manual-based reporting and having a calendar of scheduled reporting is a great notion. I have done board training before and had never come across a programme that specified this level of robust quality reporting. It tended to be more conceptualised and abstract rather than providing an actual protocol to work with. Using Policy Governance means more of your time as a board can be spent within a creative space looking forward.

Having a more operational reporting pattern also provides evidence that everyone is ‘doing their job’ and there is so much more relevant information going across the board table now.”

Karaitiana Tickell, Te Kaiwhakahaere – CEO


Client: Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust (CIET)
What: Full Programme including Policy Governance® Principles and Manual Blitz workshops, plus follow-up coaching and support

Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust (CIET) members and their accountant Simon Carey of Grant Thornton recognised the need to invest in more governance development for the Trust itself and its subsidiary companies, including the port, airport, forestry, fisheries quota and electricity. Each of these boards is made up of local directors together with directors from the mainland brought in specifically for their specialist expertise and in-depth industry knowledge. The Directors had received general governance training two years previously and were looking to build upon this base knowledge. Board Clarity’s programmed approach appealed to the Trust’s CEO and Chair, but had to be completed in a tight seven-day schedule.

The preparation phase included one-to-one interviews with Directors, starting on the Sunday Cam flew in, going through past papers and strategic plans and then observing some company board meetings. Directors then participated in a full day’s training on the Principles of Policy Governance®, followed the next day with each board going through the Manual Blitz process; all successfully completed a manual based on the commercial board manual template. Cam used any available time in between to assist the CEO and others with implementation advice and templates.

“I thought Cam did an excellent job. I was most impressed with his ability to grasp the needs of the Trust, the individuals and the companies involved. Not only was he able to develop a governance model that worked, but he effectively changed in subtle ways how I reported to the board.

Also the follow up that took place afterwards with directors both on an individual and collective basis led to a maturity on the board that made my job as CEO, easier. It made us operative more effectively as a team.
Each and every member was so much more empowered and confident in their roles afterwards and there is no question that all of us benefited from Cam’s experience.”

Brian Harris, Former CEO



Client: Anglican Care, Canterbury Westland
What: Training workshops and ongoing board mentoring

Anglican Care Canterbury/Westland is the social services and social justice arm of the Diocese of Christchurch. The charity faces many challenges and in the mid 2000s recognised the need for significant change at an organisational and board level. External support was required so governance specialists Board Clarity were engaged to assist.

Anglican Care’s organisational structure means a number of levels of governance are delegated within the organisation. With Board Clarity’s assistance, clear accountability lines have been established and ongoing training and support is provided to ensure new board and staff members are aware of how the organisation functions.

At the board level, Board Clarity has helped Anglican Care develop a stronger governance capability. Governance policies have been developed so more time is spent on the right discussions. Clear monitoring is in place so the divisional managers are held accountable for ensuring the organisation achieves its purpose and roles are well defined empowering individuals to perform at their highest level.

“Developing an ongoing relationship with Sandy and Cam has meant that we have a relationship with experts in governance who really understand our organisation. They bring an external voice to keep us on track as needed and they have been creative in helping us to see where we needed to do things differently to achieve the results we wanted.”

Pamela Hindin-Whitewood, Board Chair


Client: The Antarctic Attraction
What: Governance coaching

The Antarctic Attraction at the International Antarctic Centre is Canterbury’s leading visitor attraction and has been a multiple winner and finalist in the New Zealand Tourism Awards. Richard Benton, the Centre’s entrepreneurial owner, has a number of other enterprises in his portfolio and was looking for an approach to governance that would be workable from a business owners perspective.

Richard identified Board Clarity as an organisation with the skills and knowledge to work through this challenge with him. Sandy introduced Richard to Policy Governance and lent him a copy of “Corporate Boards that Create Value“. Richard was drawn to the rigours of this approach and the discipline of formalising his values and ownership interests. With Sandy’s assistance he was able to get a full understanding of the governance model and principles that could enable him to protect and enhance his business entities.

“I have had a long association with Cam and Sandy Brinsdon, so was more than willing to listen when they introduced me to the principles of Policy Governance®. As a practical business man, I quickly saw the value of this approach and how it could help me clarify ownership interests and values across my tourism businesses.”

Richard Benton, Managing Director



Client: Partnership Health, PHO
What: Two half-day workshops, Policy Governance® Training

Partnership Health strives to improve the health of all its enrolled communities in Canterbury. It is the largest Primary Health Organisation (PHO) in the country and the board has a representative make up including among others community members, professional directors and a range of health professionals. The health area, and particularly PHOs, are undergoing many changes and it is vital the board functions well as a group.

External support was needed in early 2009 so governance specialists Cam and Sandy Brinsdon of Board Clarity were engaged to deliver a Policy Governance training workshop during two evenings.  From discussions with board members prior to the workshop Sandy and Cam were able to identify specific issues to raise and address. So while the workshops covered all the Policy Governance® principles, there was a specific focus on discussion around the concept of board holism (acting collectively). A number of board members also found the learning useful in relation to the functioning of other boards.

“The individual and group discussions were great and empowered us to ask the difficult questions. You enabled a good balance of listening and talking. It provided us with a good chance to reflect on our various board roles and the cultures of different boards we are on. The handouts were excellent and your deep understanding of the health sector was beneficial, you know what we are grappling with. Our board meeting discussion will be different following this workshop.”

Jane Cartwright, CEO


Client: Fundraising Institute of New Zealand
What: Two day, Full board Policy Governance Training

The Fundraising Institute of New Zealand (FINZ) is New Zealand’s not-for-profit professional body for fundraisers and a core resource for fundraisers. The FINZ board wanted to move from a management board to a fully functioning governance board. They had the right professionals on the board and a new CEO in place so sought help to make this crucial transition.  Policy Governance was their model of choice because, among other things, it would enable the board to better clarify roles and responsibilities.

Governance specialist Cam Brinsdon of Board Clarity worked alongside the board to plan a two-day governance workshop to clearly explain Policy Governance® principles and enable the board to discuss their vision for FINZ. Topics included what difference FINZ wants to make for which members; what executive limitations would work for the Institute and how the board would monitor a genuinely empowered CEO. After the first day the board decided to commit to this best-practice approach to governance. With Cam’s assistance on day two the members recorded their collective values in a concise governance manual which became a reference document for future decision making.

Cam clearly knows this topic very well and was able to modify the learning to fit our organisation. All board members were encouraged to fully participate and the value of learning as a group was apparent. The support Board Clarity provided us, still continues now, be it a small meeting about governance outcomes, a quick question answered over the phone or Cam dropping in on our Wellington office to catch-up with James our CEO.

Clive Pedley, President, Fund Raising Institute of New Zealand Council


Client: Ministry of Health
What: half day, Funder governance workshop

The Ministry of Health, Operations Team has responsibility for Public Health funding across New Zealand. As a funding agency they have multiple connections with NGOs who deliver services to local communities. In recognition of the importance of ensuring they have positive and effective relationships with these agencies they wanted to learn more about the boundaries of management and governance, specifically in relation to their own role as a funder.

Governance specialist, and previously a government funder, Sandy developed a workshop specific to their needs. Sandy spent time with the team prior to the workshop identifying the key questions they wanted answered. This ensured the training was tailored, practical and effective. The team left the half day workshop with a stronger understanding of the governance role, tools to assess the strength of governance within an NGO and the confidence to ask the right questions when meeting with agencies.

The team’s feedback indicated they appreciated the practical content of the course and were clear that it would improve their effectiveness when working with the sector. We selected Sandy to provide this workshop for us because of her strong knowledge of health sector and experience and knowledge in governance. I believe this is an essential course for any funders to ensure they fully understand the relationships in the sectors they work in.

Jacqui Akuhata-Brown, Group Manager, National Screening Unit

Policy Governance® is an internationally registered service mark of John Carver. Registration is only to ensure accurate description of the model rather than for financial gain. The model is available free to all with no royalties or license fees for its use. The authoritative website for the Policy Governance model is at www.carvergovernance.com