For the NZCA, the 1996-1997 year has been characterised by two aspects: the ongoing work in the areas of recreational canoeing and whitewater competition, and continuing administration changes.
On the conservation front, there are ongoing court cases in the North Island with both the Ngaawaparua and Kioreweku cases. Both of these have had favourable results for canoeists, but neither issue has been finalised. The Buller conservation order has not yet been gazetted, but on a positive note, the Kawarau conservation order came into effect on the 18th of April 1997. The NZCA has also contacted all regional councils and various other bodies, expressing interest in matters regarding canoeists.
In terms of other aspects of recreational canoeing, the Water Safety Council has provided funding for projects looking at the current NZCA instruction scheme, and creating a national incidents database. As soon as suitable people to take on these projects are found, they will be started.
The administration of the NZCA has required much attention over the last twelve months. The position of Treasurer was not filled at the 96/97 AGM, and currently a replacement is working part-time to complete the last two years' accounts. As of May 1997, the New Zealand Sports' Assembly no longer performs the administration for the NZCA, and a part-time person now has that role.
For the coming year, the NZCA is focusing on communicating with clubs. At present, there is still a lot of support for a national recreational canoeing association, but clubs are unclear on exactly what the NZCA currently does, and what they get in return for their capitation fees. An Autumn newsletter was sent out earlier this year, and the aim is to send out four newsletters a year which are of interest to all club members. Another aim is to receive input as to the form of an association that is solely focussed on recreational canoeing. By June 1998, the intention is that clubs perceive the NZCA as functioning effectively and providing good value for money.
At the AGM, the most significant issues to be discussed involve changing the NZCA to the New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association - changing the constitution to reflect a recreational organisation. At present, whitewater competition is applying to become incorporated, and by 1998 they should be functioning effectively. The NZCA will still support competition in terms of affiliating to the NZ Canoeing Federation for national and international events until 1998, but after the 1998 AGM the intention is to relinquish all responsibilities regarding competition. Therefore, the way is free for recreational paddlers to have a national recreational body representing their interests, as was the case in 1957 when the NZCA was first formed.
The executive has proposed both a club and personal membership fee for 1997-1998, reflecting the possible change towards encouraging individual member. This raises issues regarding voting and membership rights: do all members get posted newsletters, minutes of meetings, and should all members have voting rights? Do we need to move to a postal voting system? Encouraging personal members means that we have to look at what the NZCA (or NZRCA) provides for them, a question that has been asked over and over by many clubs.
There have been two newsletters so far this year, and the current aim is to continue to have quarterly newsletters. It has also been proposed to publish a yearly canoeing magazine, and idea which is used by organisations such as the NZ Alpine Club. It appears critical to have direct contact with club members so that people who are paying fees get something tangible for their money.
From this 1997 AGM, we can build an association to specifically represent the interests of recreational kayakers in New Zealand. I look forward to seeing you there, or hearing your concerns or suggestions beforehand.