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12 May 2023

To all 9940 Club Presidents & AG’s

You have all received information in the last few days about the two clubs in the Auckland area which posted a very inappropriate photo on social media causing widespread anger and anxiety amongst Rotarians across the country and in Australia and the wider public.  For those of you who are unaware, two clubs had a political debate – the trophy, a toilet seat. Someone decided it would be funny to put a picture of Jacinda Ardern on that toilet seat, take a photo and post it to social media.

This brings up all of sorts issues:

  • Firstly – the political nature of this post – we are an apolitical organisation and have been advised by R.I. who are right over this incident that all clubs should steer clear of any political activities – particularly this year being an election year.
  • Secondly, Club culture and what is appropriate in this day and age (toilet seats as a prize seems pretty puerile and there are probably other examples of things that clubs should have retired a long time ago). Lack of respect for women and also linked to this - what is culturally appropriate? Having someone's picture attached to a toilet or toilet seat is not only disrespectful but also in breach of Māori protocol - probably Tapu. 
  • Thirdly, Social media – probably should be left to the nominated marketing/public image person in your club

The club representatives have issued a public apology and the President of the Rotary Club of St John’s has given his personal apology to Jacinda Ardern The behaviours exhibited at the event were unacceptable and do not align with Rotary’s commitment to being a welcoming place where every person who engages with us is valued and shown respect. Rotary’s Code of Conduct clearly states that members and Rotary participants shall maintain an environment that promotes safety, courtesy, dignity, and respect to all. We should all live by our Four Way Test as well.

So let’s be mindful and proud of who we are and what we stand for and use this as an opportunity to positively promote the good things Rotary does!


Kind regards, Marilyn Stevens DG9940

A letter from the DG - 16 May 2023

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