CEO's Report #377
From the Chief Executive - “Surviving the Silly Season”
It’s that time of the year…the media call it ‘the silly season’ (and for good reason). Every year around this time, with parliament not in session and other usual sources of controversy drying up, the media turns to the same old stories it churned out last year and the year before that. Unfortunately for us, one of those happens to be about freedom camping. It’s an easy story for an eager reporter to find a campground owner – who you would think should be happy as a sandboy given the summer boom he’s enjoying – ready to make wild claims about the number of freedom campers he’s seen pooing in the bushes, dumping rubbish, etc, etc.
It’s started already this year but after a good few years in this role, I am able to put such ‘outrage’ in perspective and not let it distract me from the reality of what’s really happening out there. And that is that once again this summer tens of thousands of our members are travelling our roads, enjoying our beautiful country, having fun and happily upholding the values that accompany responsible freedom camping. That’s an enviable way of life that you will see reflected throughout this issue of The Motor Caravanner, with a swag of inspiring stories and photos from our members’ travels. If you’re thinking about where to head next, read on; there are literally dozens of great destinations out there just waiting to be enjoyed in the way that only motorhomers and caravanners can.
In this issue too, we also highlight one of the very special benefits members can enjoy; our nationwide network of POPs and CAPs. In an article on page 44, Akaroa POP owner Graeme Duder throws out a warm welcome for members to stay at his and other POP owners’ properties. Graeme says most of the members who take advantage of such sites tend to be the longer established members and he wonders if that’s because newer members aren’t sure POPs are available in so many parts of the country, or whether they’re uncertain of the protocols and what is expected of them.
He says: “I would like to stress that as hosts we welcome our NZMCA guests to our properties because we love doing so. Nobody is forcing us, so don’t be shy.” Graeme goes on to say the rules are simple at his place, which has space for two motorhomes: “My place is your place, so just relax.” While you’re thinking about your next adventure, I’d also like to draw your attention to a new feature of our new-look mhftowns.com website that’s bound to strike a chord with many members – the addition of the country’s walking and cycling trails.
We know walking and cycling (especially since the emergence of eBikes) feature high on our members’ lists of preferred activities – and this new website feature is designed to help you find outlets for your enthusiasm to get out into New Zealand’s great outdoors, wherever you are in the country. You can read more about it in the Events section in this issue (Pages 102 – 105). I’m proud of the work that my National Office team have put into upgrading the website, but if you check out President Bruce Stanger’s annual report – you will find it online at www. nzmca.org.nz – you will see that it’s only a small part of what’s been achieved in 2018.
Describing 2018 as ‘another year of significant progress for the NZMCA’, Bruce says: “Membership has continued to increase ahead of expectations with our fourth year in a row of double-digit growth; our finances are in excellent shape; we have added considerably to our NZMCA Parks portfolio; and more member benefits have been developed with our family of key partners. “As a result, at the end of the last financial year (September 30, 2018) NZMCA had assets of more than $13 million, including our multimillion dollar portfolio of Park properties and cash investments of $4.02million. “Having said that, the Board has faced significant challenges – which in some cases have required difficult decisions – in the past year to ensure we not only remain relevant to our fast-changing membership but also maintain our influence and relationships at the highest level.”
I’d recommend Bruce’s report as essential reading for any members keen to not only learn about what’s been achieved in the past year but also to better understand where we’re heading. Certainly, the Board decisions Bruce refers to – which are further explained later in his report – make it very clear that our unwavering focus is on putting our members’ interests first. We’re not a tourism business; in fact we’re not a business at all. Nor are we in the motorhome rental industry – our sole function is to represent you, NZ’s private motorhome and caravan owners, with the simple goal of helping you have more fun.
That’s an aim that I believe the vast majority of our members are on board with. And I’m confident you support the leadership in introducing a new disciplinary process to crack down on those few members whose inappropriate behaviour risks undermining the privileges and benefits you all enjoy. In the first few months of operation, the Disciplinary Committee has investigated more than 60 complaints and is already weeding out those few members – some of whom have been suspended for up to 12 months – who are not playing by the common sense rules most members are happy to abide by.
The two issues that are attracting the most complaints are members allowing nonmembers to use their membership cards – despite many warnings that your membership card is strictly NOT transferable – and problems caused by dogs off leads in our NZMCA Parks. You can read more about our new disciplinary process in the Up Front section of this issue.
NZMCA Chief Executive Officer