The New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association is almost a year old, and a great deal has been achieved since the 1997 AGM. I really acknowledge the clubs who remained members over the last four years, and I hope that these clubs can now appreciate the results of their support.
I believe that the NZRCA now has the structure to be an effective and active national body for many years to come. For several years up to 1997, the Association lost members and had little communication with clubs. There were still people doing the conservation, access, safety and instruction work, but the association itself was weak. Now, we have a strong association and we are communicating with our members, and we are also getting more work done, in particular in the conservation area.
Much has been achieved over the last year in terms of conservation, access, safety and education. The construction of the Tekapo slalom site is one thing that I am very pleased with, as I remember walking around a barren, rocky piece of land several years ago. At the time, it had already been five years in the process, and it looked like it would not ever happen because not enough money was available. However, through a few people's dogged persistence and effort, it is finally under way (and ahead of schedule!). The completion of the Association accounts is another milestone. We suffered through not having a treasurer for two years, and again, a lot of work was required to bring the financial management of the Association back in order.
However, there are five key achievements that relate to the NZRCA as an organisation, and I see these as having a powerful long-term impact:
- Defining the mission, and specific areas of focus of the NZRCA;
- Restructuring the executive;
- Restructuring the membership;
- Publishing a quarterly newsletter that is sent to all members;
- Developing a web site as a resource for all paddlers, club members, and people active in conservation.
I believe that these five achievements will ensure that the NZRCA continues to exist for years to come, and becomes a stronger and stronger voice for paddlers.
Mission, and focus of the NZRCA
In October last year, the NZRCA executive met in Christchurch and discussed what the newly-named NZRCA should do. We decided that we needed something in writing to guide the actions of the NZRCA. The result of this discussion was a mission statement, a number of key areas of interest, and general plans within each of these areas. The NZRCA now has principles to work by, and areas to work in. Even in the last six months, the executive has used these principles in making decisions and choosing what action to take. I personally believe that these will guide the NZRCA for years to come.
Restructuring the executive
Once the mission and focus in 1. was written, it was natural to restructure the executive. We now have an Access Officer and an Education Officer. In addition, we are proposing a Membership Officer, a Communications Officer, a Newsletter Editor, and possibly a Web Editor. Another successful action was having both a North Island and a South Island Conservation Officer, and we are considering whether these two positions should be added to the executive.
Restructuring the membership
The NZRCA is effectively an association of clubs. There has always been a membership category for individuals, but it has not been used. As of this AGM, we are ready to accept individuals as members. We have also renamed the "affiliation" to "membership" to reflect a more member-focussed organisation. From this AGM, we are taking memberships at any time of year, and clubs have the flexibility to join an number of people throughout the year.
Hopefully, you have received a newsletter with this annual report. The newsletter has been very popular, and by sending a copy for every member, it becomes a tangible benefit for belonging to the NZRCA. Because we are committed that all members receive their newsletter, we are now offering the option of mailing it directly to members.
As I write this, several people are developing an extensive web site for the NZRCA. I believe that the World Wide Web will become a more and more effective vehicle for the NZRCA's work. The web site will be of interest to paddlers, with plenty of river descriptions, stories, history and photos. Ever since I first joined the NZRCA (then called the NZCA) executive, I passionately believed that we need to record the history of our rivers-which rivers have been paddled, who did the first descents, and stories of early trips. I see the web as a perfect tool for recording and publishing such information. It will also have information relating to conservation, such as what rivers are under threat, and their level of protection. Another use will be the exchange of information between executive members and other people working to protect our rivers.
I am completing my term as President, and after three years, I am not standing for re-election. However, I am committed to seeing the new association operating powerfully. Part of the reason I am not standing for President is so that I can support whoever gets elected, over the next six months. I also have several projects that I want to take on, in particular around membership and the web site.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge some people, people who have become great friends over the last three years. Those people are the NZCA and NZRCA executive members, past and present. From 1995, when I was first elected as President, there was a core of people who kept doing the work to protect rivers, manage instruction and safety courses, and negotiate river flows. Since then, the executive has expanded, but there is still a huge level of commitment required. My achievements as President have always been through the work of others, and I am very grateful to the executive members.
Thank you for the opportunity of leading the NZRCA over the last three years. I look forward to seeing you on a river!