The YHA was set up by volunteer members. Now it’s refusing to listen to them

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Former YHANZ board member and Opoutere YHA member Mark Ebrey argues that the nationwide board of the Youth Hostel Affiliation is shedding contact with the individuals that basically matter – it’s members. 

Everywhere in the nation, organisations are shedding contact with their stakeholders. The Plunket Society just lately taking on native department funds is only one instance of organisations more and more driving roughshod over the individuals who help them.

St John did the identical late final 12 months, by disbanding its Ohura department committee and taking on its checking account. The account was stated to comprise a whole bunch of 1000’s of dollars raised by the department.

Extra just lately, we’ve seen Air New Zealand give the finger to regional airports corresponding to Kapiti and Kaitaia within the identify of company effectivity.

There’s a battle presently underway between a member group of the Youth Hostel Affiliation of New Zealand and the nationwide board. It’s over the nationwide board’s determination to successfully ignore a movement handed on the annual assembly in Wellington late final 12 months: to defer closure of its iconic Opoutere Youth Hostel within the Coromandel for 12 months with the intention to allow all stakeholders to have an enter into the hostel’s future.

The Opoutere YHA Members Group has obtained a authorized opinion that claims the nationwide board’s determination to disregard the route of the movement is unconstitutional, however we’re left with the impression the board doesn’t care. They’ve made no response to the authorized opinion forwarded to them apart from to say they are going to reply at an undefined time sooner or later.

The Opoutere determination is only a symptom of the issues confronted by YHA members to rein within the board and get it to respect the needs of its members.

YHANZ was arrange initially by Cora Wilding to supply a method of serving to poor city households to get out into the nation, and meet others in the identical boat. At its peak, YHANZ had dozens of hostels unfold throughout the nation that had been operated and maintained by voluntary member teams.

As time went on and the members aged, the voluntary member teams slowly disappeared and management of the hostels handed to YHANZ’s nationwide workplace.

Lately the nationwide board has carried out an aggressive co-option programme, to create a board that now has just one member who might really be stated to be a YHA member within the conventional sense. He was elected final 12 months amid rising member considerations.

On the identical time, they’ve closed or bought all the hostels that aren’t in foremost cities or vacationer cities like Queenstown and Wanaka – successfully turning YHA into simply one other “flashpacker” chain. The choice to shut the one “experiential” rural hostel left – Opoutere – at Easter this 12 months was the final straw for the members who make up the Opoutere YHA Members Group.

Their frustrations about having the ability to get the board engaged final 12 months led to a constitutional discover of movement calling for the introduction of a disputes decision course of, which did not get the required 66% majority on the annual assembly. However group members say the way in which that course of was dealt with has solely fuelled their disquiet.

The issue is that the nationwide workplace controls the knowledge stream to members. With the disappearance of branches and member teams, meaning anybody who disagrees with the nationwide board has discovered it nearly unimaginable to get their voices heard by the membership.

One of many extra outspoken members of the Opoutere group has been threatened with expulsion from YHA, after he accused the nationwide chair and senior workers of deceptive members on the annual assembly, an accusation they are saying is “disrespectful”.

The present place is that the Opoutere Youth Hostel has been closed and we’ve been informed negotiations are underneath approach with a 3rd occasion to run it as an outside training centre.

YHANZ chief govt Mark Wells has supplied to work with the Opoutere YHA Members Group as a part of this course of – however they’re reluctant to take action whether it is on his phrases. He and the nationwide board have nonetheless did not act on the result of the motions carried on the annual assembly as per the constitutional process.

It raises the query – who’s the nationwide board really representing whether it is ready to disregard so many members? Complaints have been lodged with the Charities Fee and Division of Inside Affairs over the YHA board’s actions and its consistency with the Charities and Integrated Societies Acts. What we wish greater than something is for the board to indicate it’s listening.


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