President’s Report 2019

It has been a rocky road this year. The issues were

Compounded by the Conservation (Fresh Water Fish)

Amendment Bill, which Brenda Monk discovered by chance on the Parliamentary website about this time last year.

Firstly, I acknowledge the years of dedicated work by my predecessor Des McEnaney. Des is still involved and a valued member of our association and also our representative on the West Coast Whitebait Working group.

Our former secretary, Angela Anderson decided to step down soon after the 2018 AGM. Angela was a foundation member and had dedicated her time and effort as secretary since the association was formed in 1994.

Vice president, Robyn Hoglund did a great job organising a well-attended meeting at Haast where she afforded information and offered assistance filling out Amendment Bill submissions. Robyn was also part of our tiny team that went out to and met with as many fishers on rivers as possible with Amendment Bill information, catch data and membership forms and return envelopes. Unfortunately, the time involved seriously encroached on Robyn’s other commitments, especially family and she decided to step down in March. Robyn set us up a Facebook page and she continues to keep it updated.

With one hand tied up her back, Karen Burrows agreed to take on the position of treasurer. It proved to be a massive undertaking. Records were scattered, confusing or simply non-existent. There was no record of any auditing of the books and the minutes of the 2018 AGM were nowhere to be found. Rather than waste time and energy on what we could do nothing about we simply started afresh. Karen went about setting up a database and contacted as many fishers as possible. It has been a tremendous amount of time and worry for Karen and I believe she should be financially compensated. If your information is not updated when you pay your sub please fill out a new membership form and we will go from there.

We had no secretary until Rosie Searle arrived with her pen in March. She too had her hands tied behind her back.

Rosie took the minutes at an insightful meeting with fishers in Seddonville in June. It was good that Barry Wilson agreed to be co-opted on as vice president and to attend the Seddonville meeting along with Rosie and our valued treasurer, Karen.

In an effort to ease the load of the tiny association executive, Mokihinui fisherman, Paul Clarkson committed to arranging two representatives from each river in his area who would report issues back to the association. If that happened on all West Coast Rivers it would certainly simplify the vast area we are expected to cover.

Big Bay fisherman Mike Thomas, from Geraldine and environmental ecologist, Bill Chisholm, from Leeston, came to Hokitika at their own expense; to address a meeting with a projected presentation designed to clarify issues to do with the Conservation (Indigenous, Freshwater Fish) Amendment Bill and also the DOC Whitebait Review. Eighty-seven concerned fishers turned up to that meeting and went home better informed. A copy of Bill’s presentation is available on request. See Karen if you are unable to download from the association page.

I have kept in regular contact with our MP Damien O’Connor. He gave his private secretary a massive headache when he insisted, she reorganise his unbelievably busy schedule so that he could come to Hokitika and address our association before our AGM. Around 300 people attended. The positive upshot of that meeting is that Damien pledged to advocate for funding for us to come up with some credible research. That is the direction I would like to see us head towards.

I have kept the papers and other media informed over the year.

Don’t forget we are unpaid volunteers with a life outside of the association and so don’t expect us to be available during the whitebait season.

Cheryl Riley
West Coast Whitebaiters Association