Annual Report 2009

It has been a particularly busy year for the NZRCA, particularly for those who have been involved with conservation issues. Many people within the executive have assisted each other in their work and we are fortunate to have a team with a range of skills and experience.

The Annual General Meeting will see a discussion of "how can we work together", which will be crucial to address if we are to cope with an ever-increasing workload. We can be proud of what we achieve as a volunteer organisation, but we frequently attend meetings as the only unpaid people present and we will need to find ways to continue our work in the face of growing demands on our time and resources. Flexibility in roles within the executive and drawing on outside resources and assistance will be central to our future success.

The on-line river guide was given a soft launch on the website in anticipation of a redesign that will see the site given a revamp. There are also plans to incorporate some exciting social networking features, which by making it more useful for our members, should improve our profile and reach in the kayaking community. Unfortunately, progress has been slow, and changes may have to come incrementally if we don't have the time or finances to do it all at once.

Changes to the Executive during the year

Two new members were welcomed to the executive at the AGM in Rotorua last year. Michelle Wallace took up the Editor position and has capably edited NZ Canoeing during the past year. Sue Robertson became the new Vice-President.


A good level of support from Clubs, Associates and Individual members through membership renewals has continued through 2008/09. Over the past four months we have had around fifteen new individual members including several from overseas who joined using Paypal.

In February, email renewal notices were sent out to around 60 individual members including several who had not renewed for some years. The response has been very encouraging with over forty members renewing and a number of very generous donations. It is especially satisfying when members offer encouraging comments upon renewing e.g. "keep up the good work".


This year the Conservation role has been extremely busy as expected. As discussed in "The Perfect Storm" article, the kayaking amenity in New Zealand is under extreme threat, causing NZRCA to publicise the situation in the Black Issue of NZ Canoeing. Other initiatives are under way. A positive step has been the drafting of NZRCA's Conservation Strategy, which lays out our high-level view of the kayaking amenity, in order to educate developers and relevant authorities. It has already been used in policy discussions with other NGOs such as Forest & Bird and Fish & Game, and also with the Minister for the Environment. Apart from the Conservation Strategy, NZRCA has been active on the following policies, projects, and issues:

The NZRCA and Fish & Game have jointly applied for a water conservation order to recognise and sustain the outstanding amenity and intrinsic values of the Upper Hurunui waters and the contribution that the Lower Hurunui River makes to those values. The Hurunui River Water Conservation Order application is the first WCO where the NZRCA been the applicant. Thanks to Maree Baker and many others who put lots of time and energy into this application, and the many kayakers who have submitted in support of the application.

A donation of $2000 from the New Zealand Canoeing Federation was gratefully received and will be a great help with our increased conservation expenditure.


The year has been quiet from a Safety perspective. There was a single fatality this year on the Grey River, just outside Greymouth. A man drowned when his Canadian canoe capsized. Maritime NZ did not investigate this accident due to a lack of funds. It was reported that the man was not wearing a PFD.

The Incident & Accident database has seen little activity during the year. It is hoped that more attention can be given to this and that the redesign of the website will encourage more entries.

Jonathan Hunt represented NZRCA's incident database as part of a survey by Pam Smartt at Otago as part of the NZ Injury Prevention Strategy - National Drowning Prevention Strategy c/- ACC.


The NZRCA has continued discussions with DoC about the Mt Aspiring National Park Management Plan and access for kayakers to the Waiototo River. Thanks to Tony Ward- Holmes, Hugh Canard, Glenn Murdoch, Maree Baker and Craig Adams for their work on this issue.

Hugh Canard has also been lobbying DoC for access to the Upper Waiau River via St James Station.

Genesis Energy began a significant maintenance programme on the Poutu canal on the Tongariro River in early 2008, which was continued from mid-October to mid-December 2009. During this time many paddlers took advantage of the higher than normal flows. The Tongariro River release weekends have continued to be well attended.

Mike Birch has coordinated release dates for the Tongariro River, Whakapapa River and Waikaretaheke River in conjunction with Genesis Energy and the Hawkes Bay Canoe Club. A new system of on-line registration has been trialed for the Waikaretaheke River, which has resulted in cancellation of two Piripaua release weekends, but the Piripaua and Whakamarino releases on 4th and 5th April 2009 were well attended.

Mike Birch and Helen Brosnan have continued negotiations with the Tauhara North No 2 Trust for access to the Nga Awa Purua rapids. Little progress has been made for casual individual access, although the Trust has granted access for individuals and groups who apply in advance. The Trust is unwilling to grant access due to security and safety concerns with the construction of the Nga Awa Purua Geothermal Power Station.

Graeme McIntyre has organised Mangahao and Tekapo release dates. The Mangahao releases have had varying numbers of paddlers, but the last release on the 28 March 2009 was well attended. Robin Rutter-Baumann has been involved in forming an agreement between the NZRCA, Meridian Energy, and the Tekapo Whitewater Trust, for the future of the Tekapo and Pukaki releases and the Tekapo Course.


The NZRCA has spent $3,200.00 of the granted funds from Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) in the past year. Additional funding requests have been made, but as yet we are waiting on invoices from the canoe clubs, eligible for funding, that have run courses so far this year. We have seen a drop-off in activity on safety courses this year - possibly due to the financial climate and most probably due to our inability to guarantee funding for some early courses in the spring last year. There were also rumours that funding was not available, long after we had actually gained satisfactory funding. With this in mind we have decided to look into a longer term funding model with WSNZ over a period longer than year-to-year.

The funding application made this year was for a three year model, which provides a fixed amount over three years i.e. $18,000.00 over three years with $6000.00 released each year. This will allow us to know what we are in for, and to be able to go under or over budget in any one year with more confidence. At the time of writing we have had requests for funding of the following courses:

  • Kawarau Gravity sports club - up to 20 members.
  • AUTKC - up to 6 members
  • OWWC - up to 6 members
  • OPC Kayak Club - up to 6 members
  • 6 individual members

Potential funds allocated so far = $4,400.00

Waikato Canoe Club and Hutt Valley Canoe Club have also expressed interest in running courses. There is a very real possibility that we could be in the position of having spent $100 of this year's grant of $7200, which would not paint a very good picture of the NZRCA as a good cause for funding in the future!

The funding is vital to our ability to foster water safety education in New Zealand within the growing recreational kayaking sector. Without this funding being made available, safety education would be in the sole domain of commercial and professional associations and would not reach the public at large. Although we have not spent our budgeted target this year it is vital that we continue to promote it. We have taken steps to encourage clubs to organise autumn training courses (historically our busiest period) by advertising both on our website and in our newsletter.

The white water recreational kayaking community benefit from this funding in that it allows courses in kayaking safety to be run where they would not without the subsidy offered. These courses are vital to the spread of safe practice amongst the kayaking community. Next year will also see the NZRCA working on a project to support the teaching of rolling through its clubs, subject to resources being available to do so.

Tony Ward-Holmes has had discussions with SPARC about the possibility of obtaining support / funding directly for the NZRCA rather than via the NZ Canoeing Federation.


Editor Michelle Wallace produced three newsletters this year - in June, September and March.

The September issue was "The Black Issue," which was a special issue designed to increase the public awareness about the risk New Zealand has of losing rivers to dams and irrigation. A total of 1,400 magazines were printed with a wider distribution throughout significant kayaking public areas.

Following on from "The Black Issue", the magazine has been given a stronger environmental emphasis, with a designated section for any recent conservation work. Discussion around the draft NZRCA Conservation Strategy has also been published to raise awareness of this organisation's values and areas of work.

The current advertisers have remained the same, with the addition of an advertisement from CUMEC Magazine. This is a mutual agreement for NZRCA to supply one advertisement in each CUMEC magazine, and in return CUMEC to supply a 1/4-page advert in the NZRCA magazine.

There has been additional interest from Canoe and Kayak, who are looking to support the NZRCA with an advertisement in the June issue.


The NZRCA has funded the production of a DVD to be made by Bill Parks and Dave Kwant. The DVD will mostly be focussed on threats to rivers, but it will also include some history, some kayaking to portray our sport to non-kayakers and what the NZRCA achieves in its role to "preserve New Zealand's whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely". Tony Ward-Holmes and Hugh Canard have been helping coordinate the project, which so far includes footage from the Mokihinui River.


Jonathan Hunt has continued to develop and administer the NZRCA website, It's been a steady and unspectacular year for the website. Major changes are pending but it's been a struggle to find time to achieve all of the necessary changes. Once again there has been a reasonably steady stream additional of news items and articles, events and releases, and incident reports but there haven't been many substantial contributions of new content.

The migration to the Drupal Content Management System (CMS) has continued: all news stories, events and articles are managed via Drupal, and forum and image gallery migration has begun.

The NZRCA River Guide was launched in September 2008, quietly. It is mainly based on content generously provided by Graham Charles. A few people (Blake Reid (Southland/Arthur), Andrew Goodger (Tasman/Pearse)) have volunteered information but the material still needs work.

Many additional features (email newsletter, online membership management, advertising) remain on the to-do list due to lack of time and resources.

Jonathan Hunt has experimented with Google Calendar as a method of sharing events between Exec members.

No progress was made in getting access to NIWA flow data.

In late February, the membership page,, was improved to allow payments by internet banking and credit cards (via PayPal) to join NZRCA; this has attracted a few purchasers.

The CMS-based site still has the potential to offer an exciting platform for a highly functional and interactive website, offering social networking features and ways of gathering river usage data in an ongoing survey. The rapid global deployment of social networking web applications in the realm of advocacy groups is a massive opportunity to increase the NZRCA's reach and effectiveness. Sponsorship and/or additional volunteer effort will be required to realise this vision.

Usage has apparently fallen since the consolidation from three machines to one. This may be an artifact of the inter-machine requests inherent in the previous architecture. Unique visitors remain at a healthy level. A move to a pure-CMS system with personalisation and interactivity should see a boost in audience numbers and pages visited. The usage is a far cry from the 178 visitors the website garnered when Jonathan Hunt started work on it in July 1999!

Possible future work

  • Continue migration to Drupal, including forums and gallery.
  • Implement new look and feel (Mike Birch is leading the redesign).
  • Improve membership database integration; migrate away from FileMaker Pro towards web-based membership management.
  • Trial paid advertising on key pages (e.g. home page, forums).
  • Re-establish an email based announcement list.
  • Offer pages formatted for mobile devices
  • Pursue NIWA flow data.



2009 has seen a steady flow of mail through the Post Office box and distribution to others. Records of mail passing through the box are kept.

The Guide to the Whanganui River

Sales of the Guide to the Whanganui River have been good, and one company is issuing them free to all trips that they run on the Whanganui River. This has resulted in a steady demand. Pamphlets explaining the "check, clean and dry" message for didymo have been distributed with almost every guide.

Jonathan Hunt updated the Guide to the Whanganui River to edition seventeen.

Sales of New Zealand Whitewater by Graham Charles have slowed in recent months.

Thanks to Anne Smith for continuing to look after the NZRCA mail and administration on a voluntary basis.


Simon Callaghan has continued in his role as Treasurer to efficiently record and report on all our financial processes.

Financial Performance

Operating surplus of $115 was down $404 on the previous year.

Revenue increased $5,100. Annual subscriptions were up $3,500, more in line with 2007 and 2006. $2,000 was received from SPARC funds distributed by the New Zealand Canoeing Federation. Donations decreased by almost $400. Revenue from publications was similar to 2008, although Whanganui River Guide sales increased and New Zealand Whitewater sales dropped.

Expenditure increased $5,500. Portfolio costs increased $2,200, reflecting increased activity, particularly in river conservation and related work. Net cost of publications was up $1,100, mostly through a new run of the Whanganui River Guide. Work begun on the DVD project and expenditure to end March was $2,600. Depreciation on Adobe Indesign was $220 with one year to complete.

Once again Anne worked on a voluntary basis and drew no honorarium.

Financial Position and Movement in Equity

NZRCA net wealth was $35,468 at the end of the financial period. Assets and liabilities both increased $4,000 with receipt of Water Safety New Zealand funds of $7,200 and just $3,200 disbursed.

There were no accounts payable. Accounts receivable decreased $7,500 to $1,100, all for newsletter advertising and similar to past performance. Book value of software was depreciated $220.

NZRCA equity increased by $115 - from $35,353 at the beginning to $35,468 at the end of the financial period.

Annual Audit of Accounts

WHK Cook Adam completed an independent audit of 2006/07 and 2007/08 accounts in October 2008. Subject to the usual qualifications they found financial reports to be compliant with generally accepted accounting practice and to fairly represent the financial position of the NZRCA. In its management letter WHK noted NZRCA meeting minutes to be legal documents and recommended that the chairperson sign all meeting minutes once they are confirmed as correct.


Conservation issues have dominated the NZRCA's workload this year. Tony Ward-Holmes has been very busy and productive as South Island Conservation Officer. He has submitted on numerous schemes and led the formation of the new "NZRCA Officers", who are needed to assist the executive with our increased workload. Duncan Catanach's attendance of meetings in Wellington has been invaluable for raising this organisation's profile with other NGOs and advocacy organisations.

As well as work by Conservation Officers Duncan Catanach and Tony Ward-Holmes, much help has been gratefully received from other executive members including Robin Rutter-Baumann and Glenn Murdoch.

Outside of the executive there are many other individuals who have generously volunteered their time and skills: Maree Baker, Hugh Canard, Helen Brosnan, Graeme Wilson, Ian Gill-Fox, Ian Hunstman, Doug Rankin, Eddie Murphy, Graeme Body, Nixie Body, Steve Gurney, Steve Moffat, Mick Hopkinson, Polly Miller, Gordie Raynor, Roy Bailey, Ken Livingston, Nelson Canoe Club and many others.

Sue Robertson has found it difficult to contribute (due to family and work commitments) and has advised that she will not be standing for election again this year.

Special thanks go to Robin Rutter-Baumann, who has advised that he won't be standing for a position on the executive again. Robin has given many years of service to the NZRCA and we are lucky to have had his quick wit and positive outlook to keep us inspired. He has contributed hugely over the years in many different roles on the executive including Safety Officer, Communications Officer and President. Robin will continue to contribute to the kayaking community in his role as President of the Whitewater Canoe Club in Christchurch.

Thanks to Hugh Canard for continuing as patron and championing our cause at every opportunity.

Finally, my sincere thanks to all the officers on the executive for their work and support throughout the past four years that I have been President.

Mike Birch