Dean Satchell, New Zealand Tree Grower February 2016.
Under the NZFFA constitution the immediate past president continues to be on the executive committee for a year after vacating office. This is to provide an opportunity for the incoming president to learn the ropes with respect to presiding over the NZFFA and its key activities.
I have been in this position for nearly a year now, with my first conference as president coming up. I have been on the executive committee for nearly ten years and the tradition is that the most senior member steps up for their term as president. This tradition encourages tendering for office based on experience and track record, from an executive team made up of members who each were elected at different times.
The term as president is for two years, with an option of a further year. This allows for turnover, but more importantly in my view, regularly introduces new blood into the mix from below. Each new executive member coming into the team has different life experiences and values to offer into the mix. This is what committees are for, to reach good decisions by diverse participation.
In my view this system works, provided two important principles are adhered to − that the past president respects the direction and decisions taken by the new committee and leadership and that past president steps down from participating at the executive level once their term has expired. Historically this has been the case.
Paradigms change, as does the direction the executive team chooses to take. The momentum is forward because new committee members have much to offer and require confidence and space to actively participate and progress their ideas. As president I have one chance to provide leadership and direction during this short time in office. Direction can only be driven through collaboration and consensus, because the team stays on when I am done. Once I am past president I will need to respect and understand that decisions different to what I would make are not necessarily lesser or poorer than my own.
Also importantly, for the system to work, active members need to be prepared to step up to a role on the NZFFA executive committee. This requires time and effort but is very satisfying. Gaining a broader understanding of our industry and the decisions that need to be made, along with the opportunity to participate on joint FOA/NZFFA committees that make important industry decisions on the forest grower levy spend, makes for a stimulating and interesting role.