(or the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand Annual General Meeting 2009 in non-acronym speak)

On the 20 of June your Treasurer (Steven Austin) and Vice-President (Marie Smith) headed off to Kilbirnie for the FMC AGM. It was a cold, wet and miserable Saturday morning, so being at the Brentwood was marginally better than being in the hills, or so we told ourselves.

The FMC is made up of 82 member clubs, but not all had sent representatives. WTMC is the fifth biggest club out of those 82, (NZ Alpine Club, Alpine Sports Club, Over 40s Tramping Club, and the TTCs are bigger – but please note three of those get their members from all over the country). Because of our size WTMC is entitled to four votes on FMC business – the amount of votes you’re entitled to is entirely due to the number of members you have.

The day divided itself into three parts:

Governance business
This was where officers were elected, financial reports approved, etc. Your representatives did not split their votes, but voted as a block. There was some discussion about the annual report and the where to get resources so FMC is able to lobby effectively.

Address by the Minister of Conservation, the Hon Tim Groser
This was actually quite interesting. The Minister had just got off a plane from Samoa, and was a bit shattered, which worked to our advantage as he didn’t read from pre-prepared notes put together by officials. Instead he explained his background (Trade: previously as a public servant negotiating for whoever was in government; now as Minister for Trade when he went over to the other side and became a politician). He freely admitted that conservation was new to him and he was kept really busy with the trade portfolio.

The Prime Minister had wanted someone with an economic background to head conservation, so that’s why Tim Groser got the job. As a result he spoke about the “conservation economy” and said the public had to see the link between the conservation estate and the economy as a whole. This included tourism, but the minister spoke for quite some time about the management of water, and how that was crucial to New Zealand’s economy.

He also said that he was very happy with the recent changes in the Department of
Conservation, and considered it a well-run department. In answer to a question he said the 1987 Act under which DOC was set up, was fine and was not going to be reviewed.

We split into three groups:
• The Bulletin: this group discussed what changes might be made to the format.
• Conservation advocacy: this group discussed campaigns, how FMC could prioritize issues and what advocacy tools FMC has.
• Communication to young people: this group discussed initiatives to get young people involved in the outdoors, joining clubs etc.

All in all it was an interesting way to spend a Saturday. It was an excellent opportunity to chat to people from different clubs and realize we have a lot of similar issues (getting enough trip leaders and transport were common – though most of the other clubs knew about our recent van purchases and were very curious as to how we were getting on). Unlike the majority of clubs, we don’t have a problem keeping our membership numbers up, which is great!

Marie Smith
Vice President


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