The current NZRCA Executive has had a useful and enjoyable year working to serve its member canoeing clubs and individual kayakers. The report below summarises the important watery milestones, and perhaps a little dangerously, forecasts some future priorities for managing recreational paddling in NZ.
Life on the Executive
While communication between all Exec members has not been cost-less (two full Executive meetings; and up to six phone conferences), the numerous Exec discussions have created the necessary oil to get things done. Exec members have also kept their boats in the river, and remain active participants in the sport. In between there's a huge amount of communication by email. Thank you to our Administration Officer, Janette Kear, for organising us throughout the year.
Significant progress has been made in fine-tuning internal management/administration, including drafting job descriptions for each Exec position, and the development of a consistent set of files. This work should remain a priority and be completed next year.
The workload of editing the magazine, managing the website, as well as managing the Association's publicity, is considered too much for one person, let alone a paddler who also wants some time on the water. I support suggestions that the existing Communications position be split into three: Editor; Webmaster; and Communications Officer. These positions are crucial to maintaining the services we provide for members, as well as getting the message out to the paddling community.
Results of membership restructuring
Attracting and serving the Association's members has been an important focus for the 1998-99 year. This effort follows last year's restructuring of the membership categories. The Association has made at least a small splash with its "Big Ripple" strategy to build and serve both canoe clubs and individual kayaking members.
Promotion is an important topic for the NZRCA, and has been helped along significantly this year through all activities, including the website. The magazine is confirmed as an important benefit to members and must continue. The Association is also seeking to achieve a targeted approach to kayakers at events, including recreational releases. Expect even more next year.
My vision at the start of the year was for the Association to rekindle its networks with outside organisations, and efficiently participate in larger efforts on safety, education, access and river conservation issues. We have now established solid links with Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ), the Outdoor Instructors' Association (NZOIA), and the NZ Canoe Federation (NZCF). Relationships with access and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations (CORANZ), Public Access NZ (PANZ), the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, and the Outdoors Assembly, are also well developed. The Association is also a member of the Department of Conservation (DOC) national NGO network.
Access and river conservation
Access and river conservation /Resource Management Act (RMA) issues have been a very important focus for the year. The Association's participation in the Tranz Rail / Clarence Gravel extraction hearing, appeal and consent order negotiations provided a flame-based baptismal experience of the RMA for many on the Executive.
On this issue, the NZRCA has represented members before a Canterbury Regional /Kaikoura District joint consent hearing panel, and appealed the councils' decision to the Environment Court. Negotiations have continued with Tranz Rail over the last four months. The outcome is mostly acceptable to the Association, with vastly improved environmental and kayaker saftey performance standards now binding any extraction activity.
Through the negotiation process, the NZRCA's Clarence project team displayed a solid commitment to getting the best information on which to base its case, as well as working responsibly with the applicant in seeking to achieve an outcome that was satisfactory to both parties. My thanks to Maree Baker (Conservation Officer), Doug Rankin (UCCC) and Geoff Price (Whitewater Canoe Club) in so ably supporting the Association's involvement.
The Clarence negotiations have helped measure our might alongside the corporate weight of Tranz Rail and their army of lawyers, planners and engineers. To make any progress through these types of processes, kayakers need to be able to respond to these types of issues both quickly and professionally. The Association has a significant role to play in coordinating this effort.
Conservation Officer Maree Baker is now inviting interested paddlers to join the NZRCA's Confluence, a new national network of kayakers interested in river conservation. It is likely that this group will continue the Association's input into the Government's planned reforms for the RMA.
Finally, my sincere thanks to all officers on the National Executive for their work and support throughout the year. Also to those other individuals who have willingly contributed their time and support on 'special projects', including Adrienne Jones and Andy Hollings as temporary Conservation Officers; Mike Savory on the website and Mangahao consents; Rob Worrledge on the Waikaretaheke consent review; Paul Macey on the membership database; Jonathan Hunt on the website; Timon Maxey on the logo; and Bill Thomson on presidential support. I have learned an enormous quantity from working with you all, through the year. I am also happy to continue my involvement into next year.