June Focus 2022

Submitted: Monday, July 4, 2022
Categories: Focus magazine

This June Focus is the first issue from our new editor Áine Kelly-Costello. It is packed with a variety of interesting items including the editor’s reflections on the creation of a new Ministry for Disabled People (name since confirmed, ‘Ministry of Disabled People’), on trust and good faith, on disabled-led Disability Convention research, on the Equipment Solutions shopping experience (for blind people), and more.

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April 2022 Focus

Submitted: Friday, April 29, 2022
Categories: Focus magazine

Items of interest vary and include the National President’s column, a contribution from Dr Robbie Francis Watene, Senior Researcher at Donald Beasley Institute, an Audio Description update from Able, New Zealand’s leading producer of Audio Description and Captioning for television, and a contribution from the Establishment Unit of the new Ministry for disabled people (formal name yet to be announced).

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Focus – December 2021

Submitted: Thursday, December 9, 2021
Categories: Focus magazine, News and Events

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Focus October 2021

Submitted: Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Categories: Focus magazine, News and Events

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Draft 111 Contact Code

Submitted: Thursday, July 30, 2020
Categories: Information access, Submissions, Technology

Blind Citizens NZ’s submission on the Draft Copper Withdrawal Code cross-references the Draft Copper Withdrawal Code. Our submission identifies areas the Draft 111 Contact Code should in our view, be strengthened to meet the informational needs of blind people, where failure to do so may contribute to breaches of a person’s human rights.



Submission to RUB Consultation

Submitted: Sunday, November 22, 2020
Categories: Submissions, Transport

This submission responds to the Requirements for Urban Buses in New Zealand (RUB), for consistent urban bus quality (2020) Draft for consultation. Our submission identifies areas the RUB 2020 Draft for consultation should in our view be strengthened to recognise (and meet) the diverse needs of users of public transport, which includes blind people. We suggest oversights may contribute to a breach of human rights, and/or a failure to implement the “gradual realisation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, ratified by New Zealand in September 2008.



Inquiry into the 2020 General Election and Referendums

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Categories: Democracy, Information access, Submissions

Blind Citizens NZ provides feedback to the Inquiry into the 2020 General Election – our response focuses primarily on achieving outcomes that enable blind people to cast their vote independently, with dignity and confidence. 



Submission to RNZFB Board Strategic Plan 2020

Submitted: Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Categories: Blindness services, Submissions

Interim feedback to consultation by the RNZFB and Blind Foundation in relation to its Strategic Plan.  



Public Consultation on DZ 8134: Health and Disability Services Standard

Submitted: Thursday, January 30, 2020
Categories: General Blindness and disability, Submissions

Our submission to Standards New Zealand responds to the Draft Amended Health and Disability Services Standard (Draft Standard), bringing a blindness lens / perspective.



June Focus

Submitted: Monday, July 12, 2021
Categories: Focus magazine, News and Events

Along with routine contributions in our June Focus issue, there is information about the election of two Board Members, our 2021 AGM and Conference and celebrating 75-years of Blind Citizens NZ. Check out the balance of items including Kylee Maloney’s contribution, information about EvaTech’s ScripTalk (talking medication labels), Zoom Pharmacy, and the opportunity to have a say regarding government’s significant programme of work to strengthen social cohesion in New Zealand and build a safer, more inclusive society.

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New Zealand Blind Advocate elected President of World Blind Union

Submitted: Thursday, June 24, 2021
Categories: Media releases, News and Events

24 June 2021

Media Release

The World Blind Union has announced the outcome of its 10th General Assembly, first ever global accessible online participatory process to elect its new Table Officers for the coming four years (2021-2025).

280 WBU delegates have elected Martine Abel-Williamson as the new President of the World Blind Union. 

Blind Citizens NZ extends its heartfelt congratulations to Ms Martine Abel-Williamson, Global President of World Blind Union.

For the past 20 plus years, Martine has held a myriad of roles here in New Zealand and in the international arena. The in-depth knowledge and skills Martine brings to this global position is immense. 

Martine is in no doubt about the expectations there will as WBU President. She says “the timing is amazing… I am so honoured to be able to hold this position on behalf of the 253 million blind and low vision people from around the world. The support of my peers to take on this role is great. I believe they are really saying one doesn’t have to live in a large, wealthy country to make a difference. New Zealand has shown leadership during the COVID-19 Pandemic over the past year and a half. Together with my fellow officers, I will continue to prioritise the wellbeing of blind people across the world. I’m surrounded by a great team and our work for the WBU’s new quadrennium has just begun.”

From 2007 to 2017, Martine represented Blind Citizens NZ as one of New Zealand’s two country delegates at both regional and global WBU events. During that time, and subsequently as WBU’s Global Treasurer, she has demonstrated her commitment to making a blind bit of difference for all blind, deafblind, low vision and vision impaired people across the world.

“Martine’s commitment towards addressing the needs of blind people around the world has been evident for well over 10 years, and Blind Citizens NZ is pleased to support her efforts”, says Dr Jonathan Godfrey, National President Blind Citizens NZ. He went on to say “I am sure she will do New Zealand proud, and on behalf of our blind community of New Zealanders, congratulations Martine!”

An invitation for Martine to officiate at World Blind Union’s General Assembly proceedings in Spain, in person on 28 June remain an option. Achieving an MIQ space for her return is the challenge she now has.

About Blind Citizens NZ

Founded in 1945, the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc (Blind Citizens NZ) is a disabled people’s organisation (DPO), with branches and networks across the country. We are New Zealand’s leading blindness consumer organisation and one of the country’s largest organisations of disabled consumers. Our members are blind, deafblind, low vision and vision-impaired (hereafter referred to as blind). 

Blind Citizens NZ exists to give voice to the aspirations and lived experiences of blind, deafblind, low vision and vision-impaired people living in New Zealand. We aim to achieve this by heightening awareness of our rights and to remove the barriers that negate our ability to live in an accessible, equitable and inclusive society. 

About World Blind Union

The World Blind Union (WBU) is the internationally recognized organization, representing the 253 million blind, vision impaired and low vision people in 190-member countries. The voice of the blind, WBU speaks to governments and international bodies on issues concerning blindness and low vision in conjunction with members. 

WBU brings together all the major national and international organisations of blind people and organisations that provide services to blind to work on the issues affecting the quality of life for blind people. Globally, WBU is divided into six regions, with each region. Each region has its own President and volunteer executive team.

Contact details

Martine Abel-Williamson
021 411 042

Jonathan Godfrey
029 538 9814

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April Focus

Submitted: Saturday, April 24, 2021
Categories: Focus magazine, News and Events, Publications

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Equity and Governance: 75 Years of Blindness Advocacy in New Zealand 1945-2020 by Greg Newbold

Submitted: Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Categories: News and Events, Organisational, Publications

Discounted purchase price to members of the blind community $30 (incl GST). Contact Blind Citizens NZs National Office 0800 222 694 or email admin@abcnz.org.nz

Equity and Governance picks up from where Greg Newbold’s previous book, Quest for Equity, left off, and covers the Association of Blind Citizens’ history since 1995. After briefly reviewing the Association’s first 50 years (1945–1995), the book covers the group’s convoluted and eventful history over the subsequent 25 years…

The last 25 years has seen as much activity and passion from within the Association of Blind Citizens as at any time in its history and significant developments have occurred. This book chronicles the intricate matrix of activities and campaigns engaged in by the Association since its 50th Jubilee in 1995.

Check out the PDF which shows the front and back covers and remainder of content on the back cover…

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Strategic Plan 2020-2023

Categories: Organisational, Publications

Blind Citizens NZ Strategic Plan 2020-2023, implemented 1 July 2020.



December Focus

Categories: Focus magazine, News and Events, Publications

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September 2020 Focus

Submitted: Monday, September 21, 2020
Categories: Focus magazine, News and Events

Our September Focus issue brings highlights for Blind Citizens NZ, and news. You’ll also find information about our AGM on 10 October and ways to register (ZOOM or in Person), and the election of two Member-at-Large positions which closes 4pm, 29 September. You’ll also find more information about the General Election and for blind people, registering to vote using Telephone Dictation Voting. 

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June 2020 Focus

Submitted: Sunday, July 12, 2020
Categories: Focus magazine, News and Events

Check out our June issue for information about award nominations, and postponement of our 75 year celebrations. Readers please note there is an extension for nominations for Blind Citizens NZ’s Extra Touch Award. These now close 4pm, Wednesday 29 July 2020.



Blind Citizens NZ new Constitution, registered 23 December 2019. PDF and MS Word files provided

Submitted: Thursday, January 23, 2020
Categories: Organisational, Publications

March 2020 Focus

Submitted: Thursday, April 16, 2020
Categories: Focus magazine

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December 2019 Focus

Submitted: Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Categories: Focus magazine, Publications

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September 2019 Focus

Submitted: Thursday, October 3, 2019
Categories: Focus magazine, Publications

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AGM Programme & Attachments

Categories: National Conference, News and Events

At 2pm Friday 4 October, Blind Citizens NZ starts our AGM and Conference. We will be streaming live throughout the three days, and you will find the link here: https://livestream.com/vidcom/BlindCitizensNZAGMandConference2019

  • Check out our programme for the three days (4-6 October), available here in both MS Word and PDF. Key times to note include:
  • Friday 4 October, commence business at 2pm through to 5.30pm, then recommencing at 7.30pm through to approximately 9.30pm;
  • Saturday 5 October, official opening at 9.15am by Robert Martin, MNZM, Independent Expert (member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), with an exciting array of guest presenters throughout the day concluding at 5pm;
  • Sunday 6 October, commence 9am through to 2pm approximately.

Now here are Saturday’s guest presenters…
Brian Coffey, Director, Office for Disability Issues (9.25am-10.10am)
Signs of Progress

Jonathan Mosen, Chief Executive, Workbridge (10.30am-11.15am)
Sharing a Vision

Robert Martin, MNZM, Independent Expert (11.15am-12 noon)

Pic Picot – Pushing New Horizons (1.00pm-1.45pm)

John Mulka, Chief Executive, Blind Foundation (1.45pm-2.30pm)

Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Disability Issues (3.40 pm – 4.30pm)

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Registration Generic

Submitted: Saturday, July 20, 2019
Categories: National Conference, Publications

Here is our Registration for this year’s (2019) AGM and Conference. If you need more details, please contact our national office.

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June 2019 Focus

Categories: Focus magazine

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March 2019 Focus

Submitted: Sunday, May 5, 2019
Categories: Focus magazine

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December 2018 Focus

Categories: Focus magazine

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Blind Citizens NZ-Introduction and draft Constitution

Submitted: Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Categories: News and Events, Organisational

Constitution – adopted by a meeting of National Council, 13 June 2017

Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc; amended December 2018

1.​Name

The legal name is “Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Incorporated”, also known as “Blind Citizens NZ” under which name it shall be referenced throughout this constitution.
2.​Badge

Blind Citizens NZ may adopt a badge of membership, of a design to be approved by The Annual General Meeting.
3.​Objects

In the exercise of its charitable nature and purposes, the objects shall be to promote in every way the interests and well-being of blind and vision impaired people within New Zealand, and in particular Blind Citizens NZ shall have the right to:

(a)​advance and safeguard their interests;

(b)​advocate for their economic, cultural and social advancement by such means as better education and training facilities, wider employment opportunities and improved welfare services;

(c)​promote co-operation, consultation and peer support among them;

(d)​take such action in any emergency as may be necessary in their interests;

(e)​co-operate and affiliate with other charitable organisations in New Zealand and international organisations of and for the blind;

(f)​encourage and promote full participation and equal opportunity in the life of the community;

(g)​advocate for the right to self-determination, dignity and full participation in society;

(h)​design, formulate and implement policies, programmes and services for their benefit;

(i)​monitor, evaluate, and review all policies, programmes and services developed by others for their benefit;

(j)​monitor pertinent legislation and rulings, and make submissions;

(k)​develop an informed public opinion about, and stimulate community interest in, blind and vision impaired people;

(l)​provide links with blind and vision impaired people throughout New Zealand.

4.​Registered Office

(a)​The Registered Office of Blind Citizens NZ shall be at 113 Adelaide Road, Newtown, Wellington, or at such place as determined by the Annual General Meeting.

(b)​Throughout this Constitution and other policy documents, the Registered Office shall be referred to as “National Office”.

5.​Membership

Membership of Blind Citizens NZ shall encompass members of Geographic and Headquarters Branches and Geographic and Special Interest Networks.

Six (6) classes of membership are provided for as follows:

▪ Ordinary Members;
▪ Membership-for-Life;
▪ Honorary Membership-for-Life;
▪ Junior Members;
▪ Associate Members;
▪ Honorary Members.

In addition, provision has been made for external organisations to affiliate to Blind Citizens NZ to enjoy the mutual benefits accruing from closer collaboration.
5.1​Ordinary Members

(a)​Ordinary membership of Blind Citizens NZ shall be open to all persons sixteen (16) years and over, who are resident in New Zealand, and who meet the criteria for registration as Full Members under the constitution of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

(b)​Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding clause, the Board may at any time suspend or expel any person from membership of Blind Citizens NZ, or disallow the admission of any person to membership.

(c)​Application for ordinary membership shall be made to the Secretary of the Geographic Branch in which the applicant resides or to the National Office. In the event that no Branch exists, application will be made to National Office for registration with Headquarters Branch or with a Geographic Network.

(d)​An Ordinary Member may belong to as many Special Interest Networks as desired, however it is a requirement that all members of Blind Citizens NZ shall be members of a Geographic Branch or Network, or Headquarters Branch.

(e)​Annual subscriptions for ordinary membership to Geographic Branches or Networks, and to Headquarters Branch shall be set at rates to be determined by the Annual General Meeting from time to time.

(f)​Subscription for ordinary membership shall fall due on the first day of July, this being the first day of the financial year. No member whose subscription is in arrears for more than three (3) months shall be regarded as a financial member.

(g)​Those joining Blind Citizens NZ for the first time, who join between 1 April and 30 June, shall not be required to pay another subscription on 1 July. The subscription paid when joining shall be sufficient to enable members to be regarded as financial until 30 June in the calendar year following that in which they first joined (that is for a maximum of 15 months).

(h)​Any person wishing to resign from membership of Blind Citizens NZ may do so in writing to the Secretary of the Branch of which they are a member or the National Office, and any such resignation shall, without prejudice to obligations then due, take effect from the date of such written resignation.

5.2​Membership-for-Life

(a)​Any ordinary member may become a member for the duration of their life upon payment of a lump sum, the amount of which shall be as determined by the Annual General Meeting from time to time.

(b)​Branches and Networks shall forward all such lump sum payments to the National Office in full.

(c)​Disbursements to Branches and Networks from National Office for Members for Life shall be paid at a rate to be determined by the Annual General Meeting from time to time.

(d)​In the event of the resignation of a member who has purchased Membership-for-Life, there shall be no obligation on the part of Blind Citizens NZ to refund any part of the monies paid.

(e)​The total value of Membership-for Life contributions will appear in the annual accounts as a separate item.

5.3​Honorary Membership-for-Life

(a)​Honorary Membership-for-Life may be conferred upon any Ordinary member in recognition of a contribution of special merit or as a reward for sustained service to Blind Citizens NZ.

(b)​Nominations for Honorary Membership-for-Life shall be forwarded to National Office by a date to be advised annually and may be initiated by Branches, Networks or the Board.

(c)​In every case, Honorary Membership for Life shall be conferred by a resolution of the Annual General Meeting after three (3) month’s notice has been issued by National Office.

(d)​Honorary Members-for-Life shall not be required to pay any subscriptions but in all other ways shall retain their Ordinary Membership status.

(e)​The names of recipients of Honorary Membership-for-Life shall be recorded in a register held at National Office.

5.4​Junior Membership

(a)​Junior membership of Blind Citizens NZ shall be open to anyone under the age of 16, who is resident in New Zealand, and who meets the criteria for full registration with the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

(b)​Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding clause, the Board may at any time suspend or expel any person from membership of Blind Citizens NZ, or disallow the admission of any person to membership.

(c)​Application for Junior Membership shall be made to the Secretary of the branch in which the applicant resides or to the National Office. Such application may be initiated by the applicant, parent or guardian. In the event that no Branch exists, application will be made to National Office for registration with a Network or Headquarters Branch.

(d)​There shall be no subscription charged for Junior Membership.

(e)​Junior Members shall be entitled to attend general meetings of local branches and National Annual General Meetings and Conferences of Blind Citizens NZ, and shall have the right to speak at the discretion of the chair, but not to vote.

(f)​Junior Members, on reaching the age of sixteen (16), shall become eligible for Ordinary Membership of Blind Citizens NZ.

(g)​Any resignation from Junior Membership of Blind Citizens NZ shall be in writing to the Secretary of the Branch of which they are a member or to the National Office. Any such resignation shall, without prejudice to obligations then due, take effect from the date of such written resignation.

5.5​Associate Membership

(a)​Persons 16 years of age and over who are not eligible to be Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ may apply for Associate Membership.

(b)​Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding clause, Board may at any time suspend or expel any person from Associate Membership of Blind Citizens NZ, or disallow the admission of any person to Associate Membership.

(c)​Application for Associate Membership shall be made in writing to the Branch Secretary of the Branch in which the applicant resides, or to the National Office. In the event that no Branch exists, application will be made to National Office for registration with a Network or Headquarters Branch.

(d)​Subscriptions payable in respect of Associate Membership shall fall due on the first day of the financial year i.e. 1 July.

(e)​Annual Associate Membership subscriptions shall be set at rates to be determined by the Annual General Meeting from time to time.

(f)​Where an Associate Membership subscription has not been received within three (3) months after the due date, the said Associate Membership shall be deemed to have lapsed.

(g)​All subscriptions collected from Associate members shall be retained by the Branch in full.

(h)​Any person wishing to resign from Associate Membership may do so in writing to the Branch Secretary or the National Office, and such resignation shall, without prejudice to obligations due, take effect from the date of such written resignation.

(i)​Associate Members shall be entitled to attend General Meetings of local branches and National Annual General Meetings and Conferences of Blind Citizens NZ, and shall have the right to speak at the discretion of the Chair, but not to vote.

(j)​In accordance with Rule 12.1.3(d) an Associate Member may be appointed to the position of Secretary or Treasurer or Secretary/Treasurer as the case may be of a local branch where they shall have the right to speak at the discretion of the Chairman but not to vote.

5.6​Honorary Membership

(a)​Honorary Membership may be conferred on any person 16 years of age and over who is not eligible for ordinary membership in recognition of sustained or outstanding service to a branch of Blind Citizens NZ.

(b)​Honorary Membership shall be conferred by simple resolution of a branch committee for a period of one year. A copy of the resolution conferring Honorary Membership shall be forwarded to the National Office as soon as possible.

(c)​Honorary Members shall not be required to pay an annual subscription.

(d)​In accordance with Rule 12.1.3 (d), an Honorary Member may be appointed to the position of Secretary or Treasurer or Secretary/Treasurer as the case may be of the branch conferring such Honorary Membership and shall have the right to speak at the discretion of the Chairman but not to vote.

(e)​Honorary Members shall be entitled to attend all general meetings of the branch conferring honorary membership, and National Annual General Meetings and Conferences of Blind Citizens NZ, and shall have the right to speak at the discretion of the Chairman but not to vote.

5.7​Affiliate Organisations

(a)​Each affiliate organisation is subject to the terms and conditions set out in a Memorandum of Understanding mutually agreed with Blind Citizens NZ and endorsed by the Annual General Meeting.

(b)​In general, a voting affiliate organisation has the same rights and obligations accorded to any financial ordinary member attending the Annual General Meeting or Conference.

(c)​The official delegate of the voting affiliate must comply with the criteria specified in 5.1(a).

(d)​In general, both voting and non-voting affiliates will have access to specified Blind Citizens NZ-produced documentation and information.

6.​Annual General Meeting and Conference

(a)​The Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ shall be convened on a date as close as practicable to 8 October.

(b)​Conference, when convened, shall be held in conjunction with the Annual General Meeting and shall have equal status with, and observe the same meeting procedures as, the Annual General Meeting.

(c)​The Annual General Meeting shall be the supreme governing body of Blind Citizens NZ. This annual event enables members from throughout the country to come together to adopt remits and resolutions which the board is bound to act upon and be held accountable for by members.

(d)​The Annual General Meeting shall be attended by all members of National Council as provided for in Rule 7, Network Representatives as provided for in Rule 12, and shall be open to individual members of Blind Citizens NZ as provided for in Rule 5, delegates of affiliated organisations, invited guests, and members of the public.

(e)​At any Annual General Meeting, the Chair shall be occupied by the National President or the Vice-President or, in their absence, by some other member whom the Board shall appoint.

(f)​Voting at the Annual General Meeting shall be by:

▪ Voice; or
▪ Show of Hands; or
▪ Secret Ballot.
(g)​When called upon to vote, an Ordinary Member whose name is recorded on the membership database held by National Office as being a financial member seven (7) calendar days prior to the commencement of the Annual General Meeting shall be entitled to cast a single vote.

(h)​The official delegate of a voting affiliate organisation recorded on the membership database held by National Office as being financial seven (7) calendar days prior to the commencement of The Annual General Meeting shall be entitled to cast a single vote on behalf of their organisation; except where they elect to vote as an eligible financial Member as provided for in (g) above.

(i)​Any Ordinary Member eligible to vote, or the official delegate of any voting affiliate organisation, can call for voting to take place by a “Show of Hands”.

(j)​A vote by Secret Ballot shall be held at the request of any member of National Council who is present.

(k)​Where there is equality of voting, the Chairman shall have a casting vote as well as a deliberative vote.

(l)​Where not otherwise provided for, The Annual General Meeting shall observe the rules of debate as interpreted by the Chairman.

7.​National Council

(a)​When called upon to meet, National Council shall be the supreme governing body of Blind Citizens NZ between Annual General Meetings.

(b)​The next Annual General Meeting shall be called upon to endorse all decisions taken by National Council.

(c)​National Council shall consist of:

▪ All Members of the Board as provided for in Rule 8(b);
▪ Branch National Councillors;
▪ Such other members as the Annual General Meeting, Conference or National Council may appoint from time to time to serve on the Board, as provided for in Rule 8(c).
5.6​In accordance with Rule 9.1 – Paid Staff, any employee of Blind Citizens NZ who is required to attend in their paid capacity, may only speak at the discretion of the Chair and shall not have the power to vote. Paid employees of Blind Citizens NZ are not eligible to hold any nationally elected position within Blind Citizens NZ.

(e)​Where a National Councillor is prevented from attending a meeting of National Council, their Branch Committee shall be entitled to appoint an alternate representative who must be a financial Ordinary Member of the Branch Committee, to take their place for that meeting.

(f)​The Annual General Meeting, Conference or National Council may determine the dates of future meetings of National Council. In addition, National Council shall meet at any other time that the Board shall deem necessary, or at the request of five (5) or more members of National Council.

(g)​Voting and other procedures at National Council meetings shall be the same as that which is laid down in Rule 6, Annual General Meeting and Conference.

8.​Board

(a)​There shall be a Board to implement the policies and undertakings of Blind Citizens NZ as directed by the Annual General Meeting, Conference or National Council.

(b)​The Board shall consist of the following, as provided for in Rule 10, Elections:

▪ National President
▪ Seven (7) Members at Large
▪ World Blind Union Representative.
(c)​The Annual General Meeting, Conference or National Council may appoint additional financial Ordinary Members to the Board for a specific purpose and for a period which, if not already prescribed in this Constitution, shall not exceed two (2) years.

(d)​The Executive Officer shall be in attendance at all meetings of the Board.

(e)​Members of the Board shall take office at the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting, Conference, or National Council at which they are elected or appointed.

(f)​In accordance with Rule 12.1.3(f), a Branch National Councillor shall be required to forfeit that position immediately upon taking office as a member of the Board.

(g)​The Vice President is not an elected position. The Vice President shall be appointed annually by the Board at a meeting convened for this specific purpose, as soon as practicable following the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting, and Conference when convened. Only those holding elected positions on the Board shall be eligible for appointment to the position of Vice President.

(h)​At all meetings of the Board, a quorum shall be a simple majority of the total number of members that comprise the Board, provided however that the total number does not fall below six (6).

(i)​Where the total number of members comprising the Board falls below six (6), the process shall be as defined in Rule 10.8.

(j)​Any member of the Board shall be deemed to have vacated office if the member is absent from three (3) consecutive meetings, unless leave of absence has been obtained.

(k)​The Minutes of all Board meetings shall be supplied to every member of National Council.

(l)​Whenever possible, the Board shall endeavour to adopt the annual audited accounts of Blind Citizens NZ prior to the Annual General Meeting, at which time they will be received.

(m)​The Board shall meet regularly to transact the business of Blind Citizens NZ, and the Executive Officer shall give due notice of all meetings to every Board Member.

(n)​The Executive Officer shall call a special meeting of the Board when requested to do so by the National President, or by five (5) Board Members. Notification shall be issued to every Board Member not less than seven (7) days before the date set down for the meeting.

9.​Management Structure

9.1​Paid Staff

(a)​The Board shall appoint an Executive Officer of Blind Citizens NZ on such terms and conditions of engagement as the Board considers appropriate.

(b)​The Executive Officer shall be responsible and accountable to the Board.

(c)​Where the position of Executive Officer falls vacant, the Board shall take steps to fill the vacancy as soon as practicable but may appoint an Acting Executive Officer in the meantime on such terms and conditions of engagement as the Board deems appropriate.

(d)​The Executive Officer shall be responsible for the appointment and supervision of all other paid positions deemed necessary by the Board to conduct the legitimate implementation of policies and administration of Blind Citizens NZ. All such appointments shall be subject to endorsement by the Board.

(e)​Staff so appointed/endorsed by the Board need not be Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ.

(f)​Terms and conditions of appointment of all staff, including remuneration and other monetary benefits, shall be determined by the Board from time to time.

(g)​Any member of staff required to attend any meeting (as defined in this Constitution) in their paid capacity, shall not have the power to vote, and may only speak at the discretion of the Chair.

(h)​Paid employees of Blind Citizens NZ are not eligible for nomination to any nationally elected position within Blind Citizens NZ.

9.2​Management Committee

This clause should be read in conjunction with other organisational policies.

(a)​There shall be a Management Committee to support the Executive Officer in their management role.

(b)​The Management Committee shall comprise the following:

▪ National President
▪ Vice-President
▪ Executive Officer
▪ two (2) additional members of the Board appointed annually by the Board at a meeting convened for this specific purpose, as soon as practicable following the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting, and Conference when convened.
(c)​The functions of the Management Committee shall include, but are not limited to:

▪ identifying strategic issues to be reported to the Board arising from the day to day management of Blind Citizens NZ;
▪ taking managerial decisions delegated to it by the Board;
▪ dealing with an emergency situation.
(d)​The Management Committee shall meet:

▪ at a frequency to be determined by the Board; or
▪ at any time, at the discretion of the National President or Executive Officer.
(e)​Minutes of meetings of the Management Committee shall be circulated to every member of National Council and all Branch Secretaries.

10.​Elections

The process of nominating and voting for the election of a person to any position provided for in this Rule is a personal, individual matter.
10.1​Eligibility

(a)​For all election processes provided for in this Rule, all participants shall be:

i)​those who are eligible for ordinary membership of Blind Citizens NZ, as provided for in Rule 5.1 Ordinary Members;

and

(ii)​recorded as financial on the member database held by National Office at the closing date for nominations of the election being conducted.

(b)​In addition, for a participant to be eligible for nomination to any position provided for in this Rule, they must also have been a financial member of Blind Citizens NZ for no less than 24 full months measured cumulatively during the period of five consecutive years ending on the closing date for nominations.
10.2​Process

For every election provided for in this Rule:

(a)​The Board shall appoint a Returning Officer who shall not be eligible for Ordinary Membership of Blind Citizens NZ.

(b)​Other than for filling of vacancies, which shall be conducted in accordance with Rule 10.4, notice of said election shall be placed in two (2) issues of Blind Citizens NZ’s official national publication preceding the date on which nominations shall close. This notice of election shall contain advice that only those members who are recorded as financial on the member database held by National Office at the closing date for nominations of the election being conducted are eligible to participate (as provided for in Rule 10.1).

(c)​A ballot of all eligible Ordinary Members shall be conducted and shall include:

▪ distribution of electoral instructions and candidate’s CVs in the member’s preferred format;
▪ the ability to record votes by a variety of means which shall be determined by the Board from time to time.
(d)​Where the number of nominations received does not exceed the number of vacancies:

▪ there shall be no ballot and such candidate(s) shall be declared duly elected;
▪ any unfilled position shall be deemed a vacancy;
▪ the process for filling any vacancy shall be conducted in accordance with Rule 10.4(c) and (d).
(e)​Where more than one election is taking place in one year, those election processes shall, where possible, take place in conjunction with one another.

(f)​Nominations shall close seven (7) weeks prior to the date of the Annual General Meeting.

(g)​Ballot material shall be distributed to all eligible Ordinary Members four (4) weeks prior to the date of the Annual General Meeting.

(h)​Votes must be received at the National Office no later than 4.00 pm, ten (10) consecutive days prior to the Annual General Meeting.

(i)​Unless otherwise stated, the result of any election shall be announced at the Annual General Meeting.

(j)​Other than when vacancies are filled (Rule 10.4), those duly elected shall assume office immediately after the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting, and Conference when convened.

(k)​The position of Vice President is not an elected position. This position is appointed annually by the Board from amongst its own elected members. Any vacancy occurring during the term of this annual appointment shall be filled by a subsequent appointment in order to complete the term of office.

10.3​Election of all Positions Comprising the Board

(a)​The term of office for all positions shall be two (2) years.

(b)​The election for the National President and four (4) of the Member at Large positions shall take place in years ending with an odd number.

(c)​The election for the remaining three (3) Members at Large positions and World Blind Union Representative shall be held in years ending with an even number.

(d)​Candidates are required to provide a CV not exceeding 1,000 words to be circulated with the ballot material. The CV should comprise both a factual and a political statement in support of the candidate’s nomination.

10.4​Filling of Vacancies

(a)​This Rule provides for the eventuality of a vacancy occurring in any of the positions provided for in Rule 10.3 and must be read in conjunction with Rules 10.5 to 10.8 inclusive. Processes for filling a vacancy shall differ and shall be dependent on:

▪ the position for which a vacancy has occurred;
▪ the length of time to elapse prior to the next election for that position;
▪ whether the total number of Board Members remaining, at the time a specific vacancy occurs, is above the minimum.
(b)​A position may fall vacant due to resignation, expulsion, death, or as a result of insufficient nominations having been received in an election process for that position.

(c)​Where a vacancy occurs as a result of insufficient nominations having been received an extra-ordinary election shall be conducted in accordance with the process for the respective position.

(d)​Where a vacancy occurs more than six (6) calendar months prior to the date of the next election for that position, an extra-ordinary election will be held immediately, in accordance with the process for the respective position. The successful candidate shall take office immediately the outcome of the election is determined and complete the original term of office for that position.

(e)​Where a vacancy occurs within six (6) calendar months prior to the election for the respective position, that position shall remain vacant.

10.5​Vacancy – National President

(a)​Where a vacancy occurs for the position of National President more than six (6) calendar months prior to the date of the next election for that position, the Board shall:

▪ be responsible for determining the timeframe for an extra-ordinary election process;
▪ appoint a Returning Officer who shall not be eligible for Ordinary Membership of Blind Citizens NZ;
▪ provide notice of the vacancy and election to all eligible Ordinary Members by way of Blind Citizens NZ’s official national publication or individual advice.
(b)​Where a vacancy occurs for the position of National President, the Vice President shall assume the role of National President until such time as the newly elected National President takes office.

10.6​Vacancy – World Blind Union Representative

(a)​Where a vacancy occurs for the position of World Blind Union Representative, the next highest polling candidate for the respective position from the most recent election process shall be considered elected to that position. The candidate shall take office immediately and shall complete the term of office for that position.

(b)​Where the candidate declines to accept the position, the process to determine a successor shall continue in order of the next highest polling candidate, until all candidates from the most recent election for the position have been exhausted.

(c)​Where the vacancy occurs more than six (6) calendar months prior to the date of the next election for this position, and candidates decline to accept the position, or there are no successors from the most recent election, or insufficient nominations have been received to fill the position, the Board shall:

▪ be responsible for determining the timeframe for an extra-ordinary election process;
▪ appoint a Returning Officer who shall not be eligible for Ordinary Membership of Blind Citizens NZ;
▪ provide notice of the vacancy and election to all eligible Ordinary Members by way of Blind Citizens NZ’s official national publication or individual advice.
10.7​Vacancy – Members at Large

Where a vacancy occurs for any of the aforementioned positions, the process shall be:

(a)​Irrespective of the vacancy resulting from an election occurring in either an odd or even numbered year, the next highest polling candidate from the most recent election of Members at Large shall be considered elected to that position and shall take office immediately.

(b)​Where that candidate declines to accept the position, the process to determine a successor shall continue down that list, in order of the next highest polling candidate, until all candidates from the most recent election for that position have been exhausted.

(c)​Where a vacancy occurs for any of the seven (7) Member at Large positions because there are no successors from the most recent election, or the position for the respective vacancy is declined, or insufficient nominations have been received to fill the position, the Board shall be responsible for:

▪ determining the timeframe for an extra-ordinary election process;
▪ appointing a Returning Officer who shall not be eligible for Ordinary Membership of Blind Citizens NZ;
▪ providing notice of the vacancy and election to all eligible Ordinary Members by way of Blind Citizens NZ’s official national publication or individual advice.
(d)​For any vacancy filled for a Member at Large position, the successful candidate shall take office immediately, and shall complete the term of office for that position.

10.8​Filling of Vacancies when the Board Falls Below the Minimum Number

If one or more vacancies occur and the total number of the Board falls below the minimum of six (6), the Board must apply a process to fill the vacated position(s) immediately responsible for causing Board numbers to fall below the minimum.

(a)​Where this situation occurs within six (6) calendar months of the scheduled election process for the vacated position(s):

▪ a Special Meeting of National Council must be convened to make one or more appointments until the minimum number of Board Members is reached;
▪ appointment(s) made will terminate at the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting, and Conference when convened, at which time the successful candidate(s) from the recent scheduled election will take office.
(b)​Where this situation occurs more than six (6) calendar months prior to the next scheduled election process for the vacated position(s):

▪ an extra-ordinary election will be conducted in accordance with the Rules that govern the filling of the vacancy for that position(s); and
▪ the Annual General Meeting or a specially convened meeting of National Council (whichever comes first), must make one or more appointment(s) to fill the vacancies for which the extra-ordinary election is being run;
▪ the appointments shall terminate immediately the successful candidate(s) takes office.
11.​Establishing and Disestablishing Branches and Networks

The Board shall endeavour to establish new Branches and networks whenever and wherever it is considered opportune.
11.1​Membership Affiliations

Blind Citizens NZ provides for four types of affiliation where members can join together as part of a collective:

(a)​Geographic Branches: established to support members in a common geographic area, the boundaries of which are determined by postal code.

(b)​Headquarters Branch: exists to enrol Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ who reside in an area where no Blind Citizens NZ Geographic Branch or Network exists. By virtue of its unique characteristics, there shall be no minimum number of members required to ensure existence of the Headquarters Branch. Headquarters Branch cannot therefore be disestablished. Note that a member of Headquarters Branch may also opt to become a member of some other active geographic Branch or Network.

(c)​Geographic Networks: may be formed within the boundaries of Headquarters Branch or any existing Branch and shall comprise a group of financial ordinary members who share an enthusiasm for the causes and values of Blind Citizens NZ and whose proximity to one another enables them to participate in the Network’s activities. Activities may range from local advocacy through to peer support.

(d)​Special Interest Networks: may exist where blind and vision-impaired people wish to join together to pursue a common interest or characteristic: examples being users of a particular type of service, employees in a specific field, membership of a group with common characteristics within the blind community, or any other interest that the Board deems appropriate.

11.2​Establishing a Geographic Branch

(a)​A new Geographic Branch may be established either:

▪ outside the geographic boundaries of an existing Branch, i.e. from within the boundaries of Headquarters Branch;
or
▪ from within the geographic boundaries of an existing Branch.
(b)​No Geographic Branch, at the time of its establishment, shall have less than ten (10) financial Ordinary Members.

(c)​The request to establish a new Geographic Branch shall be made in writing to the Board and shall be supported by no less than ten (10) financial Ordinary Members.

(d)​The Board shall survey all Blind Citizens NZ financial Ordinary Members who reside within the boundaries of the potential new Branch to determine their level of support.

(e)​If the Board deems the level of support to be sufficient, it shall establish a Steering Committee, which shall comprise members of the potential new Branch together with the National President and the Executive Officer.

11.2.1​Establishing a Branch outside the boundaries of an existing Branch

(a)​The steering Committee shall be responsible for submitting to the Board an analysis of the requirements associated with the establishment of the Branch, including a proposed income and expenditure budget. Income sources that may be taken into account are:

▪ a one-off payment of ten dollars ($10) per head, for each financial Ordinary Member identified at the time the Steering Committee was formed;
▪ an establishment grant not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000) where this is warranted.
(b)​The Board shall study the Steering Committee’s submission, including its budgetary proposals, before formulating its own case for establishing the Branch and presenting its recommendations to the Annual General Meeting.

(c)​Following approval from the Annual General Meeting for the establishment of the new branch, the steering committee shall be responsible for overseeing the transitional phase until the Branch Committee can be democratically elected at a Special General or Annual General Meeting.

(d)​Any subscriptions paid in advance to the existing Branch (including Headquarters) shall be paid in full to the newly established Branch.

11.2.2​Establishing a Branch from within the boundaries of an existing Branch

(a)​Simultaneously with the formation of the Steering Committee, the Branch from which the new Branch is to be formed shall be required to provide to the Board a full schedule and explanation of all bequests, donations and grants received within the last five (5) years together with a description of all financial and non-financial assets held.

(b)​The Board shall bring the Steering Committee and representatives of the existing Branch together to negotiate a fair and reasonable reallocation of resources from the existing Branch to the new Branch.

(c)​Where these negotiations are unsuccessful, the Board reserves the right to appoint an independent arbitrator to adjudicate upon the matter.

(d)​Following settlement of the existing Branch’s contribution, the Steering Committee shall be responsible for submitting to the Board an analysis of the requirements associated with the establishment of the Branch, including a proposed income and expenditure budget. Income sources that may be taken into account are:

▪ a one-off payment of ten dollars ($10) per head, for each financial Ordinary Member identified at the time the Steering Committee was formed;
▪ the contribution being made by the existing Branch;
▪ an establishment grant not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), which shall normally be available only when the value of contributions from the existing branch is less than two thousand dollars ($2,000) and where access to this income source is warranted.
(e)​The Board shall study the Steering Committee’s submission, including its budgetary proposals, before formulating its own case for establishing the branch and presenting its recommendations to the Annual General Meeting.

(f)​Should the amount of the contribution from the existing Branch be in dispute, any decision of the Annual General Meeting in this regard shall be binding and final.

(g)​Following approval from the Annual General Meeting for the establishment of the new Branch, the Steering Committee shall be responsible for overseeing the transitional phase until the Branch Committee can be democratically elected at a Special General or Annual General Meeting.

(h)​Any subscriptions paid in advance to the existing Branch (including Headquarters) shall be paid in full to the newly established Branch.

11.3​Establishing a Geographic Network

(a)​No Geographic Network, at the time of its establishment, shall have fewer than five (5) financial Ordinary Members.

(b)​The request to establish a Geographic Network shall be made in writing to the Board with evidence of support from no fewer than five (5) financial Ordinary Members.

(c)​The Board shall consider the establishment proposal and, where supported, shall be responsible for:

▪ determining the boundaries of the network;
▪ surveying all members within the boundary to ascertain their preference or otherwise for Network membership;
▪ the parameters within which the Network is required to operate;
▪ any assistance (including financial assistance) that may be required for its establishment.
(d)​Immediately following Board approval, the members of the Geographic Network shall appoint a Local Coordinator whose function shall be to establish and maintain communication links with members of the Network and liaise with the Executive Officer regarding Network activities.

(e)​The Board shall seek retrospective approval for the establishment of the Network at the next Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ.

11.4​Establishing a Special Interest Network

(a)​​No Special Interest Network, at the time of its establishment, shall have less than five (5) Members residing either locally or nationally, of whom at least three (3) shall be financial ordinary members of Blind Citizens NZ.

(b)​The request to establish a Special Interest Network shall be made in writing to the Board with evidence of support from no fewer than five (5) members of whom three (3) shall be financial ordinary members of Blind Citizens NZ.

(c)​The Board shall consider the establishment proposal and, where supported, shall be responsible for the parameters within which the Network shall operate, along with any assistance (including financial assistance) that may be required for its establishment.

(d)​Immediately following Board approval, the members of the Special Interest Network shall appoint a Coordinator who shall be a financial ordinary member of Blind Citizens NZ and whose function shall be to establish and maintain communication links with members of the Network and liaise with the Executive Officer regarding network activity.

(e)​The Board shall seek retrospective approval for the establishment of the Network at the next Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ.

11.5​Disestablishing a Geographic Branch

(a)​A Geographic Branch is considered disestablished when:

▪ placed into recess;
▪ amalgamated with another Geographic Branch;
▪ its membership falls below ten (10) financial Ordinary Members.
(b)​When considering disestablishment, the Board shall survey all financial Ordinary Members from the Geographic Branch to establish whether the Branch should be:

▪ amalgamated with another Geographic Branch or
▪ Reconstituted as a geographic network; or
▪ placed into recess.
(c)​The Board’s recommendation to the Annual General Meeting will include the members’ preferred option.

(d)​Where the disestablished Branch is being amalgamated with an existing Branch, the Board shall consider the transfer of any remaining funds from the disestablished Branch to the existing Branch according to a formula to be decided at the time.

11.6​Disestablishing a Geographic or Special Interest Network

(a)​A Network is considered disestablished when:

▪ placed into recess;
▪ the coordination of the network has lapsed;
▪ the number of members willing to participate has fallen below that required at the time of its establishment.
(b)​The Board may decide to survey Members from the Network proposed for disestablishment where reasonable grounds for its survival are deemed to exist.

(c)​When a network is disestablished, the Board shall recommend to the Annual General Meeting that the Network be placed into recess.

12.​Branch and Network Responsibilities

12.1​Branches

Note that the following does not apply to Headquarters Branch, all functions required to support the members in Headquarters Branch shall be undertaken by National Office.
12.1.1​Quorum

(a)​A quorum for holding an Annual General, General or Special General Meeting shall be ten (10) financial Ordinary Members, except where the total Ordinary Membership of the Branch is less than forty (40), in which case a quorum shall be a quarter of the total financial Ordinary Membership of the Branch provided this does not fall below five (5) financial Ordinary Members.

(b)​A quorum for all Branch Committee meetings shall be a majority of the total number of financial Ordinary Members of the Branch Committee.

12.1.2​Notice of Meeting

(a)​Notice of a Branch Annual General or General Meeting shall be notified by telephone call, post or delivery to every financial member of the Branch, and shall be received by the member not less than fourteen (14) days before the date set down for the meeting.

(b)​Notice of a Special General Meeting, shall be notified by telephone call, post or delivery to every financial member of the Branch, and shall be received by the member not less than seven (7) days before the date set down for the meeting.

12.1.3​Annual General Meeting

(a)​Each Branch shall hold an Annual General Meeting between 1 July and 31 August each year and shall forward to the National Office:

▪ a copy of its annual report within one month of the Annual General Meeting having taken place; and
▪ its financial statement within timeframes to be advised.
(b)​Annual General Meetings of Branches shall be held in accordance with the provisions stipulated in this Constitution and shall be held at a physical venue.

(c)​Each Branch shall at its Annual General Meeting elect a Committee, which shall comprise not less than five (5) individuals. This number shall include a Chairman, a Secretary/Treasurer or a Secretary and a Treasurer, a National Councillor who shall not be a current Board Member, and such number of financial Ordinary Members as required. However, no individual who is not a financial Ordinary Member shall serve in any capacity other than Secretary and/or Treasurer.

(d)​In the event no financial Ordinary Member of Blind Citizens NZ accepts nomination for election to the position of Secretary/Treasurer or the positions of Secretary and/or Treasurer, the Branch Committee shall have the power to appoint such persons, who need not be financial Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ. Such appointees shall not have the power to vote.

(e)​Nominations for the foregoing Branch Officers and Committee Members shall be called for at the Annual General Meeting and accepted from the floor.

(f)​Should the National Councillor subsequently be elected as a member of the Board of Blind Citizens NZ, the National Councillor shall forfeit that position immediately upon taking office as a Board Member but may remain as a member of the Committee until the next Annual General Meeting.

(g)​In the event that the position of Chairman, Secretary/Treasurer, Secretary, Treasurer or National Councillor falls vacant before the end of the term of office for that position, a General or Special General meeting shall be convened as soon as practicable to fill the vacant position.

12.1.4​General Meetings

Each Branch shall hold a minimum of three (3) General Meetings annually (not including the Annual General Meeting at a physical venue).

12.1.5​Special General Meetings

(a)​A Special General Meeting may be called by resolution of a Branch Committee, or at the request of ten (10) financial Ordinary Members of the Branch, except where the total financial Ordinary Membership of the Branch is less than forty (40),

in which case the number required shall be a quarter of the total number of financial Ordinary Members of the Branch provided this does not fall below five (5) financial ordinary members.

(b)​Notice of the Special General Meeting shall be notified by the Branch Secretary as provided for in Rule 12.1.2(b).

12.1.6​The Branch Committee

(a)​The Branch Committee shall:

▪ be accountable to its membership, and shall, with respect to Branch matters, be responsible for carrying out instructions from any Branch Annual General, General, or Special General Meeting;
▪ interact with the Management Committee and Board on pertinent issues;
▪ promote social activity;
▪ fulfil such other functions as provided for in this Constitution and other organisational policies;
▪ make all the necessary arrangements for Annual General, General or Special General Meetings of the Branch;
▪ encourage and promote Junior Membership of Blind Citizens NZ;
▪ create an environment where younger blind and vision impaired people can benefit from blind and vision impaired adult role models;
▪ foster a positive view of blindness to young blind and vision impaired people and their parents and guardians.
(b)​The Branch Secretary shall forward all Remits approved by the Branch to the National Office.

12.2​Geographic Networks

(a)​The Network shall be required to hold one formal face to face meeting each year between the date of circulation of remits for the Annual General Meeting and 31 August. This meeting shall:

▪ be attended by a quorum of five (5) financial ordinary members;
▪ consider all remits to be presented at Blind Citizens NZ’s Annual General Meeting to determine a Network view;
▪ elect a Network Representative to attend and vote at the Annual General Meeting on behalf of the network;
▪ appoint the Local Coordinator for the next twelve months whose function shall be to maintain communications with members and liaise with the Executive Officer as required;
▪ provide National office with minutes or comprehensive notes of the proceedings of the meeting to enable verification of decisions taken.
(b)​Subscriptions from Network members and any verified donations received for local use shall be forwarded directly to National Office as tagged funds for the network’s use and shall form part of any request for funds made by the network.

(c)​The Network shall not operate a bank account.

(d)​Any additional funds requested by the Network shall be approved only at the discretion of the Board and distributed as required by National Office.

(e)​Any external funding applications for network activities shall be submitted through National office.

(f)​A Network may present remits for consideration at the Annual General Meeting provided that each remit submitted is accompanied by documented evidence of its support from no fewer than five (5) financial ordinary members of the Network.

(g)​The Local Coordinator may also hold the position of Network Representative provided that the Network Representative shall not be a member of the Board.

(h)​The Network Representative shall not be a member of National Council and shall not attend National Council meetings.

12.3​Special Interest Networks

(a)​Members are not required to hold meetings and may conduct their affairs entirely through electronic means if they wish.

(b)​Following each Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ, the network shall appoint the Coordinator for the next twelve months whose function shall be to maintain communications with members and liaise with the Executive Officer as required.

(c)​There shall be no subscriptions for membership of a Special Interest Network.

(d)​The Network shall not operate a bank account.

(e)​Any funds requested by the Network shall be approved only at the discretion of the Board and distributed as required by National Office.

(f)​A Network may present remits for consideration at the Annual General Meeting provided that each remit submitted is accompanied by documented evidence of its support from no fewer than five (5) financial ordinary members of Blind Citizens NZ.

(g)​At the discretion of the Board, some financial assistance may be provided for the Coordinator to attend the Annual General Meeting and Conference but not to vote on its behalf.

13.​Organisational Assets and Financial Administration

The Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand (Blind Citizens NZ) is a national organisation, registered as an Incorporated Society. All the funds and property of Blind Citizens NZ, including those held by Branches, shall form part of the total assets of the national organisation.
13.1​Board Authority

(a)​The Board shall exercise control over all funds and property that fall under the administration of the National Office.

(b)​In extreme circumstances and in order to maintain Blind Citizens NZ’s core business, the Board shall, at the specific direction of the Annual General Meeting, have the power to borrow or raise money with or without security and upon such terms as the Annual General Meeting deems necessary.

(c)​All expenses incurred in the general management of Blind Citizens NZ through the National Office shall be paid out of the general funds, and cheques drawn on behalf of the Board shall be signed by any two (2) of the Executive Officer and those Board members duly authorised.

13.2​Branch Authority

(a)​Assets held by Branches shall be administered by the Branch Committee. Branch Committees are required to administer the Branch’s assets in accordance with organisational policies.

(b)​When investing the Branch’s funds on behalf of Blind Citizens NZ, the Branch Committee must take due care not to expose Blind Citizens NZ’s assets to risk through imprudence or cupidity. The same rules on investments adopted by the Board when approving investments also apply to the investment of Branch funds by Branch Committees.

(c)​In the same way that all Branch assets form part of the national assets of Blind Citizens NZ, any liabilities incurred by Branches also become national liabilities. Branches must recognise that when they enter into a contract, legal obligation or written agreement, there may be legal or financial repercussions for the national organisation should either party default on any specified terms or provisions therein. Branches are therefore required to seek advice from National Office before entering into any such commitment, either one-off or ongoing, where their total financial outlay will either be greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or, if a lesser amount will represent more than fifty percent (50%) of the Branch’s total reserves.

(d)​Each Branch shall retain all monies received by way of Ordinary and Associate Members’ annual subscriptions and donations, and the proceeds of local fund-raising efforts by the Branch. Branches may also seek funding from agencies within their area where the application of such funding is strictly local.

13.3​Bequests

(a)​Upon notification of any bequest in Blind Citizens NZ’s name, the bequest must be validated by the National Office, whether specified for Blind Citizens NZ nationally or for a Branch.

(b)​Following verification that the bequest is intended for Blind Citizens NZ, the Board will be advised of the bequest and, where necessary, will make a decision as to whether the funds are to be disbursed to National Office or a specific Branch.

(c)​All bequests must be used in accordance with the provisions specified in the bequest.

(d)​In the event of any dispute that remains unresolved between the Board and a Branch regarding the distribution of a bequest, either party may refer the matter to the Annual General Meeting for a final decision.

13.4​Fundraising

Funding applications by Branches to national funding sources must be initiated through Blind Citizens NZ’s National Office, and shall be with the Executive Officer two (2) months prior to the close of applications. Any conflicts between local and national interests will be resolved by the Board on a case by case basis.
13.5​Pecuniary Gain

(a)​Special remuneration may be paid to any Board or Branch Member undertaking a specific service or project in the interests of Blind Citizens NZ that lies outside the normal expectations of their position. Such remuneration must be approved in advance and may only be authorised by a majority of the Board or Branch General Meeting and must be reported in the Minutes and in the annual accounts.

(b)​For the purpose of this Ruling, a Board, Branch or Staff Member is deemed to have a pecuniary interest in a Blind Citizens NZ transaction if they, or those with whom they are closely associated, will or may directly or indirectly derive a material financial benefit from the transaction.

(c)​Once a Board, Branch or Staff Member becomes aware that they, or those with whom they are closely associated, will or may have a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in a Blind Citizens NZ transaction, whether proposed or already executed, they must disclose to the Board or Branch the existence, nature and extent of that interest.

(d)​The disclosure must be recorded in the Minutes of the Board or Branch General Meeting along with any remedial action agreed upon in light of the disclosure.

14.​Common Seal

(a)​The Common Seal of Blind Citizens NZ shall be that which is determined by the Annual General Meeting or the National Council, and the Board shall be responsible for the safe custody and control thereof.

15.​Member Discipline

15.1​It is important for the credibility of Blind Citizens NZ and the work it undertakes that its own members do not jeopardise the good name of the organisation through conduct that may bring the organisation into disrepute. To this end, there will be occasions when application for membership is disallowed and where existing members must be held to account for their actions.

15.2​When such a situation arises, the Board will investigate the evidence of alleged wrong-doing and establish the facts to the best of its ability.

15.3​For prospective members:

(a)​Application for Membership of Blind Citizens NZ may be withheld at the discretion of the Board.

(b)​The Board shall advise the applicant of the decision reached and that decision shall be final.

15.4​For existing members:

(a)​The Board will adjudicate upon the actions of an existing member who is alleged to have:

▪ misappropriated Blind Citizens NZ funds or assets; or
▪ engaged in actions or behaviors that may, directly or indirectly, damage the reputation of Blind Citizens NZ.
(b)​The Board may decide to take one of the following actions:

▪ suspend or expel the member from membership of Blind Citizens NZ;
▪ disqualify the member from holding any one or more local or National Office-holding position(s) within Blind Citizens NZ for a specified period of time;
▪ censure the member and issue a warning that any future transgressions may result in stronger action being taken; or;
▪ decide that there is no need for further action.
(c)​In the case of a member facing expulsion, the member will be offered an opportunity to resign voluntarily. If this is not forthcoming, the Board will expel the member.

(d)​If any member wishes to challenge the Board’s decision, they will have the right to appeal to the Annual General Meeting whose decision will be final.

16.​Special Appointments

16.1​Solicitor and Auditor

A Solicitor and an Auditor, who shall not be members of Blind Citizens NZ, shall be appointed by the Annual General Meeting on the recommendation of the Board.
16.2​Patron

(a)​The position of Patron shall be a three-year appointment to be made at the Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ, with re-appointment for a further two-year term being at the discretion of the Board.

(b)​The process for appointment shall be:

▪ the Board shall call for recommendations from Branches no later than 1 March;
▪ recommendations shall be received by the National Office no later than 1 May;
▪ the Board shall be responsible for making a decision based on all recommendations received, and for ensuring the willingness of the prospective patron to fill the position;
▪ the name of the recommended appointee shall be notified to Branches no later than 31July;
▪ the Board shall seek approval for the appointment of the Patron at the Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ.
(c)​Unless specifically requested at any given time by the Board, National Council, Annual General Meeting or Conference, the Patron shall not participate in any decision-making processes.

(d)​In the event the Patron is a financial Ordinary Member of Blind Citizens NZ, the Patron shall hold no other office at either local or national level, but shall be entitled to participate in decisions taken by Blind Citizens NZ as would any other financial Ordinary Member.

16.3​Special Representatives

The Board shall be responsible for appointing representatives to other organisations or entities whose objectives complement those of Blind Citizens NZ or where such participation is likely to benefit the blindness and/or wider disability communities.
17.​This Constitution

(a)​No part of this Constitution shall be altered, added to or rescinded except by resolution passed at the Annual General Meeting or at a meeting of the National Council, or by two-thirds of those members entitled to vote and voting in a postal ballot of all members, after three (3) months notice of any proposal to make such alterations has been given to Branches prior to a meeting, or to members prior to a postal ballot.

(b)​Notwithstanding the provision in the preceding clause, no part of this Constitution shall be subject to any alteration, addition or excision that will in any way detract from the exclusively charitable nature and purposes of Blind Citizens NZ within New Zealand.

(c)​The Executive Officer shall supply a copy of the Constitution in print, braille, large print, audio and electronic formats to all Branches within two (2) months of any revision.

(d)​If circumstances occur not provided for in this Constitution, the Board shall determine what action to take and whether the matter should be referred to the Annual General Meeting. If the matter has serious implications for Blind Citizens NZ, National Council may be convened in the interim.

(e)​This Constitution of the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Incorporated has been adopted by a meeting of National Council in 2017 in place of all previous Constitutions.

18.​Winding Up

(a)​The decision to wind up the affairs of Blind Citizens NZ shall be confirmed only after a resolution to this effect has been sent to all financial Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ, and has been supported by two-thirds of those entitled to vote and voting on the resolution.

(b)​In the event of Blind Citizens NZ winding up, a Special Meeting of National Council shall be called to discuss such winding up.

(c)​All funds of Blind Citizens NZ remaining after the disposal of all saleable assets and the settlement of all costs, debts and liabilities shall be donated to a national charitable organisation to be chosen by National Council. The chosen organisation shall pursue objectives that complement those of Blind Citizens NZ and benefit blind and vision impaired people in New Zealand.

Appendix 1

Definition for Ordinary Membership

Eligibility for Ordinary Membership of Blind Citizens NZ is set out in Rule 5.1(a) of Blind Citizens NZ’s Constitution. This requires members to meet the vision criterion adopted by the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind in the definition of its Full Member category as set out in its Constitution.

The Foundation’s criterion stipulates that…

“Qualifying Person” means a person who, in the opinion of a registered Optometrist or Ophthalmologist, has visual acuity not exceeding 6/24 in the better eye with correcting lenses or serious limitations in the field of vision generally not greater than 20 degrees in the widest diameter.”

Attachments



Draft-Blind Citizens NZ Constitution

Categories: News and Events, Organisational

Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc
Draft Constitution – February 2019

1.0 Name
1.1 The name of the organisation is “Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Incorporated”, an incorporated society under section 8 of the Incorporated Societies Act 1908.

1.2 The organisation is now more commonly known as “Blind Citizens NZ”, under which name it shall be referenced throughout this Constitution.

1.3 The organisation was founded in 1945 under the name of “Dominion Association of the Blind”. It was renamed in 1977 to “New Zealand Association of the Blind and Partially Blind” and further renamed in 1998 to its current legal name of “Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand”.

2.0 Registered Office
2.1 The Registered Office of Blind Citizens NZ is Ground Floor, 113 Adelaide Road, Newtown, Wellington. Throughout this Constitution and other policy documents, the Registered Office shall be referred to as “National Office”.

2.2 Key Contact details for Blind Citizens NZ:
0800 222 694
021 222 6940
admin@abcnz.org.nz

2.3 Entity Information:
Incorporated Society: Registration Number 223080
Charity: Registration Number CC41040

3.0 Definitions
The terms below have the following meanings in this Constitution:

3.1 “Blind” is the term used to describe those who identify themselves as blind, vision-impaired, partially sighted, partially blind, deafblind, having low vision or in some other manner consistent with sight loss,; and “blind community” has the same meaning.

3.2 “Complaint” means a complaint or disciplinary procedure regarding alleged misconduct of a member.

3.3 “Conference” is an event that, when convened, is held in conjunction with the Annual General Meeting and whose features include the sharing of information and opinions on matters of common interest, invited speakers, social interaction and a celebratory dinner with presentation of awards.

3.4 “Financial year” is the 12-month period ending 30 June.

3.5 “Format” means the form in which information is exchanged between National Office and members and which, if not in standard print, may be in some other form authorised by the Board (e.g. large print, email, the Telephone Information Service or braille), and where the preference of each member is respected.

3.6 “Full Member under the constitution of the Royal NZ Foundation of the Blind” is the yardstick used for eligibility for admission as an Ordinary Member of Blind Citizens NZ. This is described in their constitution as a person eligible to be a “qualifying person”; meaning a person who, in the opinion of a registered Optometrist or Ophthalmologist, has visual acuity not exceeding 6/24 in the better eye with correcting lenses or serious limitations in the field of vision generally not greater than 20 degrees in the widest diameter.

3.7 “Grievance” means a grievance alleging damage to a Member’s rights or interests as a member or to members’ rights or interests generally.

3.8 “In writing“ when used in this Constitution means a form of response that may be submitted in a format other than one that is paper-based, provided that the format used is one authorised by the Board and the submitter accepted as authentic.

3.9 “Manifest Error” in the context of this Constitution means an error that is so obvious and clear on its face that there is no room for argument.

3.10 “National Office” is the registered office of Blind Citizens NZ and is the operational hub of the organisation employing its only paid staff.

3.11 “Qualifying child” means a person eligible for junior membership of Blind Citizens NZ who meets the same vision criteria as defined for a qualifying person” under the constitution of the Royal NZ Foundation of the Blind.

3.12 “Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind” (also called the Blind Foundation) is the principal service provider for blind persons in New Zealand.

3.13 “Telephone Information Service” is a Blind Foundation-provided recorded service that is used by Blind Citizens NZ to enable members to connect via phone to hear news and information and record their own feedback and voting preferences.

3.14 “World Blind Union Representative” is a Blind Citizens NZ appointee to the World Blind Union and whose presence on the Board is valued by both the representative and the Board to the extent that the representative may even be co-opted to the Board.

4.0 Objects
Blind Citizens NZ is a charitable organisation of blind people in New Zealand who choose to speak out on our own behalf. We uphold the aims of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the purpose of which is to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”. Consistent with social justice, and in aspiring to achieve an accessible, equitable and inclusive society for all members of the blind community in New Zealand, we advocate for and actively pursue the following objects:
Full participation in the economic, political, social and cultural life of the community;
Equal opportunities to engage in education, training, employment, and cultural and leisure activities;
Safe and blind-friendly access to and use of all aspects of the built environment, including public transport services;
Access to publicly available information in a form that compensates for our lack of sight;
The right to independence and confidentiality when called upon to disclose personal information or when casting a vote;
Blindness-related services that enable us to approach everyday life with independence, confidence and dignity;
Technology and telecommunications that accommodate our blindness-related needs;
Self-determination and the guiding principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us”;
Improved community education and awareness of both our needs and capabilities;
Training, support and experience in leadership and advocacy for our members;
A positive and inclusive culture that encourages and values member participation, social interaction, peer support and the sharing of information and advice;
Real and practical outcomes from collaborative efforts with our disability and social service sector partners to secure a non-disabling society for all;
Active support for the causes of blind people throughout the world;
Acknowledgement of the Treaty of Waitangi and its application in the work of Blind Citizens NZ;
All other things as are incidental to, or which may assist with the attainment of, any of the above objects.

5.0 Membership
5.1 Joining as a Member
5.1.1 Members of Blind Citizens NZ shall be registered with either a Geographic Branch, Headquarters Branch or with a Geographic Network. The members of Special Interest Networks need not all be members of Blind Citizens NZ but, if so, will already have a Branch or Network affiliation.

5.1.2 Application for membership shall be made to the Secretary of the Geographic Branch in which the applicant resides or to the National Office. In the event that no Geographic Branch exists, application will be made to National Office for registration with Headquarters Branch or with a Geographic Network.

5.1.3 Six classes of membership are provided for as follows:
Ordinary Members;
Membership-for-Life;
Honorary Membership-for-Life;
Junior Members;
Associate Members;
Affiliate Organisation Membership

5.1.4 Any person wishing to resign from membership of Blind Citizens NZ may do so in writing to the Secretary of the Geographic Branch of which they are a member or to the National Office, and any such resignation shall, without prejudice to obligations then due, take effect from the date of such written resignation.

5.2 Ordinary Members
5.2.1 Ordinary Membership of Blind Citizens NZ shall be open to all persons sixteen years and over and who are eligible for registration as Full Members under the constitution of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

5.2.2 An Ordinary Member may belong to as many Special Interest Networks as they choose.

5.2.3 Annual subscriptions for Ordinary Membership shall be set at rates to be determined by the Annual General Meeting from time to time.

5.2.4 Subscriptions for Ordinary Membership shall fall due on 1 July (the first day of the financial year). No member whose subscription is in arrears for more than three months shall be regarded as a financial member.

5.2.5 Those joining Blind Citizens NZ for the first time who join between 1 April and 30 June shall not be required to pay another subscription on 1 July. The subscription paid when joining shall be sufficient to enable members to be regarded as financial until 30 June in the calendar year following that in which they first joined (that is, for a maximum of 15 months).
5.3 Membership-for-Life
5.3.1 Any Ordinary Member may become a member for the duration of their life upon payment of a lump sum, the amount of which shall be as determined by the Annual General Meeting from time to time.

5.3.2 Branches and Networks shall forward all such lump sum payments to the National Office in full.

5.3.3 Disbursements to Branches and Networks from National Office for Members for Life shall be paid at a rate to be determined by the Annual General Meeting from time to time.

5.3.4 In the event of the resignation of a member who has purchased Membership-for-Life, there shall be no obligation on the part of Blind Citizens NZ to refund any part of the monies paid.

5.3.5 The total value of Membership-for Life contributions will appear in the annual accounts as a separate item.
5.4 Honorary Membership-for-Life
5.4.1 Honorary Membership-for-Life may be conferred upon any Ordinary Member in recognition of a contribution of special merit or as a reward for sustained service to Blind Citizens NZ.

5.4.2 Nominations for Honorary Membership-for-Life shall be forwarded to National Office by a date to be advised annually and may be initiated by Branches, Networks or the Board.

5.4.3 In every case, Honorary Membership for Life shall be conferred by a resolution of the Annual General Meeting after notice has been issued by National Office.

5.4.4 Honorary Members-for-Life shall not be required to pay any subscriptions but in all other ways shall retain their Ordinary Membership status.

5.4.5 The names of recipients of Honorary Membership-for-Life shall be recorded in a register administered by National Office.

5.5 Junior Membership
5.5.1 Junior membership of Blind Citizens NZ shall be open to anyone under the age of 16 recognised as a “qualifying child” under the constitution of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind and whose guardian is therefore eligible to be registered as a Guardian Member of the Foundation.

5.5.2 Application for Junior Membership may be initiated by the applicant, parent or guardian.

5.5.3 There shall be no subscription charged for Junior Membership.

5.5.4 Junior Members shall be entitled to attend general meetings of local Branches and the Annual General Meeting and Conference of Blind Citizens NZ, and shall have the right to speak at the discretion of the Chair but not to vote.

5.5.5 Junior Members, on reaching the age of 16, shall become eligible for Ordinary Membership of Blind Citizens NZ.
5.6 Associate Membership
5.6.1 Persons 16 years of age and over who are not eligible to be Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ may apply for Associate Membership.

5.6.2 Annual subscriptions for Associate Membership shall be set at rates to be determined by the Annual General Meeting from time to time.

5.6.3 Subscriptions for Associate Membership shall fall due on 1 July (the first day of the financial year).

5.6.4 Where an Associate Membership subscription has not been received within three months after the due date, membership shall be deemed to have lapsed.
5.6.5 All subscriptions collected from Associate members shall be retained by the Branch in full.

5.6.6 Associate Members shall be entitled to attend General Meetings of local Branches and the Annual General Meeting and Conference of Blind Citizens NZ, and shall have the right to speak at the discretion of the Chair, but not to vote.
5.7 Affiliate Organisations
5.7.1 External organisations may affiliate to Blind Citizens NZ to experience the mutual benefits accruing from closer collaboration.

5.7.2 Each affiliate organisation shall be subject to the terms and conditions set out in a Memorandum of Understanding mutually agreed with Blind Citizens NZ, and defining whether or not the organisation has voting rights.

5.7.3 A voting affiliate organisation attending the Annual General Meeting and Conference has the same rights and obligations accorded to a financial Ordinary Member.

6.0 Board
6.1 The primary role of the Board is to govern Blind Citizens NZ in a manner consistent with a mandate conveyed and informed through the collective voice of members, and to act in accordance with that mandate. To this end, the Board shall:
Set the strategic direction and priorities for the organisation;
develop and monitor policies that provide direction and boundaries for both its own and the Chief Executive’s functions;
Ensure that the Chief Executive and staff have sufficient resources to perform the tasks assigned to them;
Engage with members in open and honest dialogue, actively pursuing those issues that are of immediate concern while keeping members informed of progress;
Play a leading role in the work being undertaken with Government by the Coalition of Disabled People’s Organisations;
Be accountable to the members for organisational performance.
6.2 Composition of the Board
6.2.1 National President, elected by members for a three-year term.

6.2.2 Six Members-at-large, two of whom are elected by members each year for a term of three years.

6.2.3 Up to two co-opted members appointed by the Board and whose appointment is optional, except where it is mandatory to co-opt the World Blind Union Representative to the Board (refer sub-rule 6.3.9).

6.2.4 All elected members may stand for additional terms with no limit on terms served.
6.2.5 Members of the Board shall take office at the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting at which they are declared elected or appointed, or following Conference when convened.

6.2.6 The Vice President is not an elected position. The Vice President shall be appointed annually by the Board at a meeting convened for this purpose as soon as practicable following the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting, or Conference when convened. Only those holding elected positions on the Board shall be eligible for appointment to the position of Vice President.

6.2.7 Paid employees of Blind Citizens NZ are not eligible to hold any Board position.

6.2.8 Any person who is currently a Branch or Network Representative shall be required to forfeit that position immediately upon taking office as a member of the Board.
6.3 Co-opting Additional Board Members
6.3.1 The Board may from time to time resolve to appoint a financial Ordinary Member of Blind Citizens NZ as a member of the Board.

6.3.2 The purpose of such an appointment shall be to enhance the range of skills, knowledge, perspective or experience available to the Board in the execution of its governance role, or to provide expertise in a particular field deemed necessary to meet a specific Board objective.

6.3.3 The number of co-opted Board members in office at any given time shall not exceed two.

6.3.4 A co-opted Board member may be appointed for a term of any length not exceeding two years, and this term may be extended by one additional term at the discretion of the Board.
6.3.5 A co-opted Board member may stand as a candidate for election to the Board either:
Upon completion of their appointed term as a co-opted Board Member; or
During the term of their appointment, at which time their appointment shall cease.

6.3.6 A person is disqualified from being appointed as a co-opted Board member if:
Two consecutive terms as a co-opted Board member have already been served; or
The person was an elected or co-opted Board member in the preceding term and stood unsuccessfully for election as a Board member in the most recent election.

6.3.7 A co-opted Board member may not be appointed as Vice-President of Blind Citizens NZ.

6.3.8 A co-opted Board member has the same functions, duties and powers, and shares the same accountabilities, as an elected Board member.

6.3.9 In the event that the World Blind Union Representative is not an elected member of the Board, the person so appointed to this position shall be co-opted to the Board for the term of their current appointment unless the appointee:
vacates their position prior to the completion of their term; or
is subsequently elected to the Board.

6.3.10 Should the World Blind Union Representative’s co-option to the Board cause the number of co-opted members on the Board to exceed the maximum of two, the Board must terminate the appointment of one of the existing co-opted members.
6.4 Board Meetings
6.4.1 The Board shall meet regularly according to a pre-arranged schedule of dates and shall receive from the Chief Executive all documented material necessary for the conduct of the meeting within a pre-determined timeframe.

6.4.2 Unless determined otherwise by the Board, the Chief Executive shall be in attendance at all meetings of the Board.

6.4.3 A quorum at all Board meetings shall be a majority of those serving on the Board (including co-opted Board members) meeting face to face or linked electronically.

6.4.4 Any vote conducted at a Board meeting shall be carried by a simple majority of those Board members constituting a quorum. In the event of an equality of votes, the Chair of the meeting shall have a casting as well as a deliberative vote.

6.4.5 Under conditions determined by the Board, observers may attend Board meetings, but may not speak unless permission is granted by the Chair.

6.4.6 Any member of the Board shall be deemed to have vacated office if the member is absent from three consecutive meetings, unless leave of absence has been granted.

6.4.7 The Minutes of all Board meetings shall be distributed to the Board and all Branch Representatives.

6.4.8 The Board shall adopt the annual audited accounts of Blind Citizens NZ prior to their being received at the Annual General Meeting.

6.4.9 The Chief Executive shall call a special meeting of the Board when requested to do so by the National President, or by a majority of those serving on the Board (including co-opted Board members). Notification shall be issued to every Board Member no later than seven days before the date set down for the meeting.
6.5 Special Meetings
6.5.1 The Board, or a majority of Branches and Networks, may call for a meeting at any time to discuss a matter of strategic importance to the organisation.

6.5.2 Such a meeting shall either:
Include all members of the Board and a representative from each Branch and Network; or
Be open to all members of Blind Citizens NZ.

6.5.3 Other persons may attend meetings by invitation only.

7.0 Staff
7.1 The Board shall appoint a Chief Executive of Blind Citizens NZ on such terms and conditions of engagement as the Board deems appropriate.

7.2 The Chief Executive shall be responsible and accountable to the Board.

7.3 Where the position of Chief Executive falls vacant, the Board shall take steps to fill the vacancy as soon as practicable but may appoint an Acting Chief Executive in the meantime on such terms and conditions of engagement as the Board deems appropriate.

7.4 The Chief Executive shall be responsible for the appointment and supervision of all other paid positions deemed necessary by the Board to conduct the business and administration of Blind Citizens NZ.

7.5 Staff so appointed need not be Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ.

7.6 The Board shall monitor the performance of the Chief Executive on an ongoing basis and conduct a regular assessment and review with the Chief Executive based on a mutually-agreed set of performance measures.

7.7 Any member of staff required to attend any meeting (as defined in this Constitution) in their paid capacity shall not have the right to vote, and may only speak at the discretion of the Chair.

7.8 Paid employees of Blind Citizens NZ are not eligible to hold any Board position.
8.0 Annual General Meeting and Conference
8.1 The Annual General Meeting and Conference enables members from throughout the country to come together to share our lived experiences of blindness and express our views on the issues that restrict our ability to enjoy equal rights with those in the sighted community. The collective and informed decisions we reach as an outcome of such discussions gives Blind Citizens NZ the mandate to speak on our behalf and obliges the Board to act in a manner consistent with this mandate.

8.2 The Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ shall be convened on a date as close as practicable to 8 October (the date commemorating the founding meeting of the organisation in 1945).

8.3 Conference, when convened, shall be held in conjunction with the Annual General Meeting and shall observe the same meeting procedures as the Annual General Meeting.

8.4 The business of the Annual General Meeting shall be to:
Announce the results of the Board election;
Appoint the auditor (on a recommendation from the Board);
Receive the Annual Report on the affairs of Blind Citizens NZ since the previous Annual General Meeting;
Receive the audited financial statements for the previous financial year;
Consider remits and other pre-circulated resolutions;
Transact any other business.
8.5 The Annual General Meeting shall be attended by all members of the Board and Branch and Network Representatives, and shall be open to individual Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ, delegates of affiliated organisations, invited guests, the auditor, and members of the public.
8.6 At any Annual General Meeting, the Chair shall be occupied by the National President or the Vice-President or, in their absence, by some other member whom the Board shall appoint.

8.7 Voting at the Annual General Meeting shall be by:
Voice; or
Show of Hands; or
Secret Ballot.

8.8 When called upon to vote, an Ordinary Member whose name is recorded on the membership database held by National Office as being a financial member seven calendar days prior to the commencement of the Annual General Meeting shall be entitled to cast a single vote.

8.9 A Branch or Network Representative shall be expected to cast their single vote on behalf of their Branch or Network when acting in a representative capacity.

8.10 The official delegate of a voting affiliate organisation recorded on the membership database held by National Office as being financial seven calendar days prior to the commencement of the Annual General Meeting shall be entitled to cast a single vote on behalf of their organisation; except where they elect to vote as an eligible financial Member as provided for in sub-rule 8.8 above.

8.11 Any Ordinary Member eligible to vote, or the official delegate of any voting affiliate organisation, can call for voting to take place by a “Show of Hands”.

8.12 A vote by Secret Ballot shall be held at the request of five or more financial Ordinary Members present.
8.13 Any employee of Blind Citizens NZ who is required to attend in their paid capacity, may only speak at the discretion of the Chair and shall not have the right to vote.

8.14 Where there is equality of voting, the Chair shall have a casting vote as well as a deliberative vote.

8.15 Where not otherwise provided for, the Annual General Meeting shall observe the rules of debate as interpreted by the Chair.

9.0 Elections
9.1 Eligibility
9.1.1 For all election processes provided for in this Rule, all participants intending to stand, nominate a candidate or vote in the election, shall be recorded as financial on the member database held by National Office at the closing date for nominations for the election.

9.1.2 To be eligible for nomination as a candidate for any position provided for in this Rule, the nominee must also have been a financial member of Blind Citizens NZ for no less than 24 full months measured cumulatively during the period of five consecutive years ending on the closing date for nominations.

9.1.3 No person shall be permitted to serve on the Board if disqualified under any of the factors for disqualification outlined in the Charities Act 2005, or who is found to have breached any qualifying criteria for office in this Constitution.
9.2 Process for Conducting Elections
9.2.1 For each annual election, the Board shall appoint a Returning Officer who shall not be eligible for Ordinary Membership of Blind Citizens NZ.

9.2.2 Notice of each annual election shall be placed in the two issues of Blind Citizens NZ’s official national publication preceding the date on which nominations shall close. This notice of election shall contain advice that only those members who comply with the criteria provided in sub-rule 9.1 are eligible to participate in the election.

9.2.3 Nominations shall close seven weeks prior to the date of the Annual General Meeting.

9.2.4 Ballot material shall be distributed to all financial Ordinary Members four weeks prior to the date of the Annual General Meeting and shall include:
Candidates’ CVs in the member’s preferred format;
Voting papers and/or instructions for voting using the method chosen by the voter from amongst the options provided by the Board from time to time.

9.2.5 A ballot will be held each year to fill all vacant positions on the Board (including expired positions and unfilled vacancies), where the number of validly nominated candidates exceeds the two required to fill the member-at-large positions expiring at the end of their three year term. An election for the expired or vacated position of National President shall also be held if more than one nomination has been received.

9.2.6 Votes must be received at the National Office no later than 4pm, ten consecutive days prior to the Annual General Meeting.

9.2.7 Should there be an equal number of votes for two or more candidates, the returning officer shall decide by lot in such manner as they alone shall determine which of such candidates shall be elected to complete the ballot.

9.2.8 Should there still remain one unfilled member-at-large position following the election, this position shall be deemed a vacancy to be filled at the next annual election. Any more than one unfilled position shall trigger the actions described in sub-rule 9.5 (Filling Vacancies when the Board falls Below a Minimum Number).

9.2.9 Whether or not a ballot is required, the outcome of any completed electoral process shall be notified to members by the Returning Officer as soon as practicable once the outcome is known, using all media at their disposal (but excluding individual advice).

9.2.10 At the Annual General Meeting the returning officer shall:
Where no ballot has been held, declare each validly nominated candidate to be elected; or
Where a ballot has been held, announce the results of the ballot and declare each successful candidate to be elected.

9.2.11 Candidates duly elected shall assume office immediately after the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting, or following Conference when convened.
9.3 Election of all Board Positions
9.3.1 The term of office for all positions on the Board shall be three years.

9.3.2 The term of office of two of the six members at large shall expire each year in rotation, although all Board Members whose terms have expired may seek re-election.

9.3.3 The election for the National President shall take place on the third anniversary following their accession to the position. Should the National President be unable to complete their term of office, the Vice-President shall assume the role of National President until the next annual election, at which time an election shall be conducted to fill the position of National President for the next three years.

9.3.4 The position of Vice President is not an elected position. This position is appointed annually by the Board from amongst its own elected members. Any vacancy occurring during the term of this annual appointment shall be filled by a subsequent appointment in order to complete the term of office.
9.4 Filling Member-at-Large Vacancies
9.4.1 A position may fall vacant due to resignation, expulsion, death, or as a result of insufficient nominations having been received in an election.

9.4.2 If there are unsuccessful candidates in the most recent election, the highest polling unsuccessful candidate from the most recent election shall be offered the vacated position and shall take office immediately to complete the term of office of the member whose departure has given rise to the vacancy.

9.4.3 Where that candidate declines to accept the position, the process to determine a successor shall continue down the list, in order of the next highest polling candidate, until all candidates from the most recent election for that position have been exhausted.

9.4.4 Should there have been an equal number of votes for two or more candidates, the returning officer shall decide by lot in such manner as they alone shall determine in which order such candidates shall be approached.

9.4.5 Where a vacancy occurs because there are no successors from the most recent election, or the position for the respective vacancy is declined, or insufficient nominations have been received to fill the position, the position will remain vacant until the next annual election.

9.5 Filling Vacancies when the Board Falls Below a Minimum Number
9.5.1 Should the number of member-at-large vacancies following the most recent election equal two or more, or there has been no nomination for National President, the Annual General Meeting must then make appointments sufficient to fill these vacancies and bring the number of members on the Board (excluding co-opted members) to a total of seven.

9.5.2 The members required to complete the terms of office of the unfilled positions on the Board shall be appointed by a process to be determined by the Annual General Meeting at the time, and shall henceforth be regarded as elected members.

10.0 Establishing and Disestablishing Branches and Networks
10.1 Membership Affiliations
The Board shall endeavour to establish new Branches and Networks whenever and wherever it is considered opportune. Blind Citizens NZ provides for four types of affiliation where members can join together as part of a collective:

10.1.1 Geographic Branches: established to support members in a common geographic area, the boundaries of which are determined by postal code.

10.1.2 Headquarters Branch: exists to enrol Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ who reside in an area where no Blind Citizens NZ Geographic Branch or Network exists. By virtue of its unique characteristics, there shall be no minimum number of members required to ensure existence of the Headquarters Branch. Headquarters Branch cannot therefore be disestablished. Note that a member of Headquarters Branch may opt to become a member of an active geographic Branch or Network.

10.1.3 Geographic Networks: may be formed within the boundaries of Headquarters Branch or any existing Branch and shall comprise a group of financial Ordinary Members who share an enthusiasm for the causes and values of Blind Citizens NZ and whose proximity to one another enables them to participate in the Network’s activities. Activities may range from local advocacy through to peer support.

10.1.4 Special Interest Networks: may exist where members of the blind community wish to join together to pursue a common interest or characteristic; examples being users of a particular type of service, employees in a specific field, membership of a group with common characteristics within the blind community, or any other interest that the Board deems appropriate.
10.2 Establishing a Geographic Branch
10.2.1A new Geographic Branch may be established either:
Outside the geographic boundaries of an existing Branch, i.e. from within the boundaries of Headquarters Branch; or
From within the geographic boundaries of an existing Branch.
10.2.2 No Geographic Branch, at the time of its establishment, shall have fewer than ten financial Ordinary Members.

10.2.3 The request to establish a new Geographic Branch shall be made in writing to the Board with evidence of support from no fewer than ten financial Ordinary Members.

10.2.4 The Board shall survey all financial Ordinary Members who reside within the boundaries of the potential new Branch to determine their level of support.

10.2.5 If the Board deems the level of support to be sufficient, establishment of the new Branch shall proceed in a manner as prescribed by the Board from time to time.

10.2.6 The Board shall report the successful establishment of the Branch to the next Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ.

10.3 Establishing a Geographic Network
10.3.1 No Geographic Network, at the time of its establishment, shall have fewer than five financial Ordinary Members.

10.3.2 The request to establish a Geographic Network shall be made in writing to the Board with evidence of support from no fewer than five financial Ordinary Members.

10.3.3 The Board shall consider the establishment proposal and, where supported, shall be responsible for:
Determining the boundaries of the Network;
Surveying all members within the boundary to ascertain their preference or otherwise for Network membership;
The parameters within which the Network is required to operate;
Any assistance (including financial assistance) that may be required for its establishment.

10.3.4 Immediately following Board approval, the members of the Geographic Network shall appoint a Local Coordinator whose function shall be to establish and maintain communication links with members of the Network and liaise with the Chief Executive regarding Network activities.

10.3.5 The Board shall report the successful establishment of the Network to the next Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ.
10.4 Establishing a Special Interest Network
10.4.1 No Special Interest Network, at the time of its establishment, shall have fewer than five Members residing either locally or nationally, of whom at least three shall be financial Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ.

10.4.2 The request to establish a Special Interest Network shall be made in writing to the Board with evidence of support from no fewer than five members of whom three shall be financial Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ.

10.4.3 The Board shall consider the establishment proposal and, where supported, shall be responsible for the parameters within which the Network shall operate, along with any assistance (including financial assistance) that may be required for its establishment.

10.4.4 Immediately following Board approval, the members of the Special Interest Network shall appoint a Coordinator who shall be a financial Ordinary Member of Blind Citizens NZ and whose function shall be to establish and maintain communication links with members of the Network and liaise with the Chief Executive regarding Network activities.

10.4.5 The Board shall report the successful establishment of the Network to the next Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ.
10.5 Disestablishing a Geographic Branch
10.5.1 A Geographic Branch may be disestablished when:
A period in recess has ended without further activity; or
It has been amalgamated with another Geographic Branch; or
Its membership has fallen below ten financial Ordinary Members.

10.5.2 When considering disestablishment, the Board shall survey all financial Ordinary Members from the Geographic Branch to establish whether the Branch should be:
Amalgamated with another Geographic Branch or
Reconstituted as a Geographic Network; or
Placed into recess; or
Disestablished with Branch members transferred to Headquarters Branch.

10.5.3 The Board’s report to the Annual General Meeting shall include the members’ preferred option and the reasons for the Board’s decision.

10.5.4 Where the disestablished Branch is being amalgamated with an existing Branch, the Board shall consider the transfer of any remaining funds from the disestablished Branch to the existing Branch according to a formula to be determined at the time.

10.5.5 Where no amalgamation with another Branch is taking place, all remaining funds of the disestablished Branch shall be transferred to National Office to be held temporarily for the Branch pending possible re-establishment.
10.6 Disestablishing a Geographic or Special Interest Network
10.6.1 A Network may be disestablished when:
A period in recess has ended without further activity; or
The coordination of the Network has lapsed; or
The number of members willing to participate has fallen below that required at the time of its establishment.

10.6.2 The Board may decide to survey Members from the Network proposed for disestablishment where reasonable grounds for its survival are deemed to exist.

10.6.3 The Board’s report to the Annual General Meeting shall include the members’ preferred option and the reasons for the Board’s decision.
11.0 Branch and Network Responsibilities
11.1 Branches
Note that the following does not apply to Headquarters Branch, all functions required to support the members in Headquarters Branch shall be undertaken by National Office.
11.1.1 Quorum
11.1.1.1 A quorum for holding an Annual General, General or Special General Meeting shall be ten financial Ordinary Members, except where the total Ordinary Membership of the Branch is less than forty, in which case a quorum shall be a quarter of the total financial Ordinary Membership of the Branch provided this number is no fewer than five financial Ordinary Members.

11.1.1.2 A quorum for all Branch Committee meetings shall be a majority of the total number of financial Ordinary Members of the Branch Committee.
11.1.2 Notice of Meeting
Notice of a Branch Annual General or General Meeting shall be notified to all Branch financial Ordinary Members in a format of the member’s choice and shall be received by the member no later than 14 days before the date set down for the meeting.
11.1.3 Annual General Meeting
11.1.3.1 Each Branch shall hold an Annual General Meeting between 1 July and 31 August at a physical venue and shall forward to the National Office:
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting within one month following the Annual General Meeting; and
The Branch’s financial statement and records for audit within timeframes to be advised.

11.1.3.2 Each Branch shall at its Annual General Meeting elect a Committee, which shall comprise no fewer than five individuals. This number shall include a Chair, a Secretary and a Treasurer (or a Secretary/Treasurer), a Branch Representative (who shall not be a current Board Member) and such number of financial Ordinary Members as required. However, no individual who is not a financial Ordinary Member shall serve in any capacity other than Secretary and/or Treasurer.

11.1.3.3 The Branch Representative shall act as a link between the Branch and the organisation at a national level and shall:
Convey Board decisions and sundry information from National Office to the Branch Committee and to Branch members generally;
Represent the Branch at the Annual General Meeting to express and vote on the Branch’s views on all remits and any pre-circulated resolutions;
Share information about the Branch’s activities with the wider organisation.

11.1.3.4 In the event no financial Ordinary Member of Blind Citizens NZ accepts nomination for election to the position of Secretary and/or Treasurer, the Branch Committee shall have the power to appoint such persons who need not be financial Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ. Such appointees shall not have the right to vote.

11.1.3.5 Nominations for Branch Officers and Committee Members shall be called for at the Annual General Meeting and accepted from the floor.

11.1.3.6 Should the Branch Representative subsequently be elected as a member of the Board of Blind Citizens NZ, the Branch Representative shall forfeit that position immediately upon taking office as a Board member but may remain as a member of the Committee until the next Annual General Meeting.

11.1.3.7 Should the position of Chair, Secretary, Treasurer or Branch Representative fall vacant before the end of the term of office for that position, a General or Special General meeting shall be convened as soon as practicable to fill the vacant position.
11.1.4 General Meetings
11.1.4.1 Each Branch shall hold a minimum of three General Meetings annually (not including the Annual General Meeting at a physical venue.

11.1.4.2 Remits from Branch members to be raised at the Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ shall be considered and forwarded to National Office by a time to be advised.

11.1.4.3 A Branch meeting shall debate the merits of the total of all remits and any other notified topics to be discussed at the Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ to inform the Branch Representative of its views and so indicate its voting preference.
11.1.5 Special General Meetings
11.1.5.1 A Special General Meeting may be called by resolution of a Branch Committee, or at the request of ten financial Ordinary Members of the Branch, except where the total financial Ordinary Membership of the Branch is less than forty, in which case the number required shall be a quarter of the total number of financial Ordinary Members of the Branch provided this number is no fewer than five financial Ordinary Members.
11.1.5.2 Notice of a Special General Meeting shall be notified to all Branch financial Ordinary Members in a format of the member’s choice and shall be received by the member no later than seven days before the date set down for the meeting.
11.1.6 The Branch Committee
The Branch Committee shall:
Be accountable to its membership, and shall, with respect to Branch matters, act upon and be responsible for any resolutions passed by any Branch Annual General, General, or Special General Meeting;
Interact with the Board on pertinent issues;
Ensure that documents circulated by National Office relating to the affairs of Blind Citizens NZ at a national level are reported to the Committee and, where necessary, acted upon within given timeframes;
Promote social activity and peer support;
Make all the necessary arrangements for Annual General, General or Special General Meetings of the Branch;
Encourage and promote Junior Membership of Blind Citizens NZ;
Create an environment where younger members of the blind community can benefit from their blind adult role models;
Foster a positive view of blindness to younger members of the blind community and to their parents and guardians;
Fulfil such other functions as provided for in this Constitution and in other organisational policies.

11.2 Geographic Networks
11.2.1 The Network shall be required to hold one formal face to face meeting each year between the date of circulation of remits for the Annual General Meeting and 31 August. This meeting shall:
Be attended by a quorum of five financial Ordinary Members;
Consider all remits to be presented at Blind Citizens NZ’s Annual General Meeting to determine a Network view;
Elect a Network Representative (who shall not be a member of the Board), to attend and vote at the Annual General Meeting on behalf of the Network;
Appoint the Local Coordinator for the next 12 months whose function shall be to maintain communications with members and liaise with the Chief Executive as required;
Provide National office with minutes or comprehensive notes of the proceedings of the meeting to enable verification of decisions taken.

11.2.2 Subscriptions from Network members and any verified donations received for local use shall be forwarded directly to National Office as tagged funds for the Network’s use and shall form part of any request for funds made by the Network.

11.2.3 The Network shall not operate a bank account.

11.2.4 Any additional funds requested by the Network shall be approved only at the discretion of the Board and distributed as required by National Office.

11.2.5 Any external funding applications for Network activities shall be submitted through National office.

11.2.6 A Network may present remits for consideration at the Annual General Meeting provided that each remit submitted is accompanied by documented evidence of its support from no fewer than five financial Ordinary Members of the Network.

11.2.7 The Local Coordinator may also hold the position of Network Representative provided that the Local Coordinator is not be a member of the Board.
11.3 Special Interest Networks
11.3.1 Members are not required to hold meetings and may conduct their affairs entirely through electronic means if they wish.

11.3.2 Following each Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ, the Network shall appoint the Coordinator for the next 12 months whose function shall be to maintain communications with members and liaise with the Chief Executive as required.

11.3.3 There shall be no subscriptions for membership of a Special Interest Network.

11.3.4 The Network shall not operate a bank account.

11.3.5 Any funds requested by the Network shall be approved only at the discretion of the Board and distributed as required by National Office.

11.3.6 A Network may present remits for consideration at the Annual General Meeting provided that each remit submitted is accompanied by documented evidence of its support from no fewer than five financial Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ.

11.3.7 At the discretion of the Board, some financial assistance may be provided for the Coordinator to attend the Annual General Meeting and Conference but not to vote on its behalf.
12.0 Organisational Assets and Financial Administration
12.1 The Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand (Blind Citizens NZ) is a national organisation, registered as an Incorporated Society. All the funds and property of Blind Citizens NZ, including those held by Branches, shall form part of the total assets of the national organisation. In the same way, any liabilities incurred by Branches form part of the total liabilities of Blind Citizens NZ.
12.2 Board Authority
12.2.1 The Board shall exercise control over all funds and property that fall under the administration of the National Office.

12.2.2 The Board shall not enter into any transaction that would dispose of or acquire assets, the value of which would exceed 50% of the total assets of Blind Citizens NZ, without a resolution in support having been passed by a two-thirds majority of members entitled to vote and voting on the resolution in a ballot of all financial Ordinary Members.

12.2.3 All expenses incurred in the general management of Blind Citizens NZ through the National Office shall be paid out of the General Fund, and authorised by any two of the Chief Executive and those Board members duly authorised.
12.3 Branch Authority
12.3.1 Assets held by Branches shall be administered by the Branch Committee in accordance with organisational policies.
12.3.2 When investing the Branch’s funds on behalf of Blind Citizens NZ, the Branch Committee shall not expose Blind Citizens NZ’s assets to risk through imprudence or cupidity. The same rules on investments adopted by the Board when approving investments shall also apply to the investment of Branch funds by Branch Committees.
12.3.3 Branches shall seek advice from the Board before entering into any contract, legal obligation, written agreement or financial commitment, whether one-off or ongoing, where:
The total financial outlay represents 50% or more of the branch’s total reserves; or
A default by either party may have legal or financial repercussions.

12.3.4 Each Branch shall retain all monies received by way of Ordinary and Associate Members’ annual subscriptions, donations where the donor’s intention in favour of the Branch is clear, and the proceeds of local fund-raising efforts by the Branch. Branches may also seek funding from agencies within their area where the application of such funding is strictly local.
12.4 Bequests
12.4.1 Upon notification of any bequest in Blind Citizens NZ’s name, the bequest must be validated by the National Office, whether specified for Blind Citizens NZ nationally or for a Branch.

12.4.2 Following verification that the bequest is intended for Blind Citizens NZ, the Board will be advised of the bequest and, where necessary, will make a decision as to whether the funds are to be disbursed to National Office or a specific Branch.

12.4.3 All bequests must be used in accordance with the provisions specified in the bequest.

12.4.4 In the event of any dispute that remains unresolved between the Board and a Branch regarding the distribution of a bequest, the issue shall be dealt with in accordance with the process for handling complaints and grievances outlined in Rule 14 of this Constitution.
12.5 Fundraising
12.5.1 Funding applications by Branches to national funding sources shall be initiated through Blind Citizens NZ’s National Office, and shall be submitted to the Chief Executive no later than one month prior to the close of applications.

12.5.2 Any conflicts between local and national interests shall be resolved by the Board on a case-by-case basis.
12.6 Pecuniary Gain
12.6.1 For the purpose of this Ruling, a Board, Branch or Staff Member is deemed to have a pecuniary interest in a Blind Citizens NZ transaction if they, or those with whom they are closely associated, will or may directly or indirectly derive a material financial benefit from the transaction.

12.6.2 No Board, Branch or staff member, or those with whom they are closely associated, shall participate in, or materially influence, any decision made by Blind Citizens NZ or the Board from which they would derive any income, benefit or advantage.

12.6.3 Special remuneration may be paid to any Board or Branch Member undertaking a specific service or project in the interests of Blind Citizens NZ that lies outside the normal expectations of their position provided that any income paid shall be reasonable and relative to that which would be paid in an arm’s length transaction (being the open market value).

12.6.4 The provisions and effect of such remuneration must be approved in advance and may only be authorised by a majority of the Board or Branch General Meeting and must be reported in the Minutes and in the annual accounts.

12.6.5 Once a Board, Branch or Staff Member becomes aware that they, or those with whom they are closely associated, will or may have a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in a Blind Citizens NZ transaction, whether proposed or already executed, they must disclose to the Board or Branch the existence, nature and extent of that interest.

12.6.6 The disclosure must be recorded in the Minutes of the Board or Branch General Meeting along with any remedial action agreed upon in light of the disclosure.

12.6.7 The provisions and effect of this sub-rule shall not be removed from this Constitution and shall be included and implied into any document replacing this Constitution.

13.0 Common Seal
13.1 The Board shall have control of Blind Citizens NZ’s common seal and must provide for its safe custody.

13.2 The common seal may be used only with the authority of the Board.

13.3 Every document to which the common seal is affixed shall be signed by any two of the Chief Executive and those Board members duly authorised.

14.0 Complaints and Grievances
14.1 It is important for the credibility of Blind Citizens NZ and the work it undertakes that its own members do not jeopardise the good name of the organisation through conduct that may bring the organisation into disrepute. To this end, there will be occasions when application for membership is disallowed and where existing members must be held to account for their actions. Similarly, there may be occasions when a member or group of members Feel that their rights as members have been undermined and wish to call the Board to account for its own actions.

14.2 When such a situation arises, the Board shall, in the first instance, investigate the evidence of alleged wrong-doing and establish the facts to the best of its ability

14.3 If the Board’s findings are unacceptable to the subject of the complaint or to the party instigating the complaint or grievance against the Board, the member or group of members concerned have a right to be heard before the complaint or Grievance is resolved or any outcome is determined.
14.4 Should a complaint against a prospective member be upheld, application for Membership of Blind Citizens NZ may be withheld at the discretion of the Board and the applicant advised accordingly.

14.5 Should there be a complaint against an existing member, the Board shall:

14.5.1 Investigate the actions of the member who is alleged to have:
Misappropriated Blind Citizens NZ funds or assets; or
Engaged in actions or behaviours that may, directly or indirectly, damage the reputation of Blind Citizens NZ; and
14.5.2 If satisfied the complaint is justified, decide to:
Suspend or expel the member from membership of Blind Citizens NZ or;
Disqualify the member from holding any one or more local or National Office-holding positions within Blind Citizens NZ for a specified period of time; or
Censure the member with a warning against future transgressions; or
Take no further action.

14.6 Should the Board’s findings or proposed actions over the substance of a complaint about a member, or over a complaint or grievance by a member (or group of members) about the Board, still be in dispute, the following process shall be instituted by the Board.

14.6.1 An external decision-maker, whose impartiality is accepted by both parties to the dispute, shall be appointed to adjudicate on the matter.

14.6.2 The decision-maker shall accept written submissions and/or conduct an oral hearing if requested to do so by either party.

14.6.3 A member or members representing their own interests may have a support person present in an oral hearing.
15.0 Amending this Constitution
15.1 The Board may at any time propose an alteration to this Constitution for approval by members.

15.2 Notwithstanding the provisions of Clause 15.1, the Board may alter the Constitution without the approval of a resolution of members if the alteration is to correct a manifest error or is necessary to align the Constitution with any changes to applicable governing legislation. Such alterations shall be advised to members by National Office using all media at its disposal (but excluding individual advice), and shall be reported to the next Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ.

15.3 In all other cases, the Board shall send notice of its proposed alteration to the Constitution to all financial Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ in their preferred format; such notice to be in sufficient detail to allow for members to have a reasonable appreciation of the nature and effect of, and the reasons for, the proposed alteration.

15.4 There shall be an eight-week period for discussion prior to the circulation of any voting material, and a teleconference with representatives from Branches and Networks shall be convened by the Board for the purpose of resolving any outstanding issues should these exist at the end of the discussion period.

15.5 Should issues still remain following the discussion period, the voting material shall include a member-initiated counter-proposal to assist members in exercising their vote.

15.6 The voting material and resolution to alter this Constitution shall be circulated as soon as practicable to all financial Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ and shall:
Take account of each member’s format preferences for receipt and voting; and
Advise the date and time for the close of voting.
15.7 A resolution to alter the Constitution must be passed by a two-thirds majority of members entitled to vote and voting on the resolution.

15.8 The outcome of the ballot shall be notified by National office using all media at its disposal (but excluding individual advice) as soon as practicable following the counting of votes.

15.9 In no event shall any alteration of this Constitution be made if the alteration would detract from the charitable nature of the objects of Blind Citizens NZ or permit any funds of Blind Citizens NZ to be expended other than in pursuance of those objects.

16.0 Liquidation of Blind Citizens NZ and Disposal of Surplus Assets
16.1 A special meeting of members shall be convened to discuss any decision to wind up the affairs of Blind Citizens NZ.

16.2 As part of the winding-up process, the members shall be required to pass resolutions to determine the transfer and distribution of surplus assets upon liquidation and to appoint a liquidator.

16.3 The notice containing the resolutions for adoption shall be circulated to all financial Ordinary Members of Blind Citizens NZ and shall:
Take account of each member’s format preferences for receipt and voting: and
Advise the date and time for the close of voting.

16.4 Each of the resolutions must be passed by a two-thirds majority of the Members entitled to vote and voting on the resolutions.

16.5 Upon the liquidation of Blind Citizens NZ, all surplus assets after payment of all costs, debts and liabilities shall be transferred in accordance with the resolution as the members have determined before the liquidator was appointed, to such charitable organisation in New Zealand having objects similar to those of Blind Citizens NZ and of benefit to the blind community.

Attachments



Explanation-Constitution

Categories: News and Events, Organisational

February 2019

Introduction to the Revised Rules – February 2019

Dear Blind Citizens NZ Member

The Board was pleased to see the 2018 Annual General Meeting give the ‘go ahead’ for a revised constitution to be developed embracing the changes that were adopted there. The information that follows will seek to explain where these changes have occurred and, what this means for Blind Citizens NZ. The Board hopes that you will find the time to study our proposed new rules and provide feedback to us. The Board will then make decisions based on all feedback received. This is due by 4pm, Monday 1 April 2019. The Board will then circulate a final version of the constitution, to all financial members, to be voted upon.

If you want to compare the current constitution with the revised constitution, and you have internet access, you can find the current constitution (last updated in December 2018), on our website under ‘Publications’, then search for ‘constitution’. Alternatively, you can contact Rose Wilkinson at National Office for a copy in your preferred format. Contact details are at the end of this document.

Please note that it will not be possible to compare both sets of rules on a clause-by-clause basis. Although some rules have remained largely intact, some clauses dealing with operational matters are now considered no longer fit to be included in a constitution. They have been moved into the Operational Policy Manual. There has also been some ‘tidy up’ work carried out to aid readability, such as the removal of repetitive information and a general re-ordering of material to provide a more logical sequence.
Other changes have been made in line with the proposed new Incorporated Societies legislation, which is making its way through the parliamentary process.

We will now provide a summary of the changes made to the current constitution. We will cover each rule as outlined in the current constitution and refer you to its equivalent in the revised set of rules.

1. Rule 1 ‘Name” is the first rule in both constitutions, but the revised rules also provide some history of the name changes that have occurred since 1945.

2. Rule 2 in the current constitution (Badge) has been deleted since it is seen as having no relevance in a constitution.

3. Rule 3 in the current constitution is ‘Objects’. This has been replaced in the revised constitution by Rule 4 and is the set of objects circulated for comment during 2018 and modified in line with suggestions received at the time.

4. Rule 4 in the current constitution is ‘Registered Office’. This is now Rule 2 in the revised constitution and has now been supplemented with some extra contact details.

5. Note that Rule 3 in the revised constitution is now a new section on definitions of various terms used in this document. We need to provide those unfamiliar with our organisation with a definition of how we intend these terms to be interpreted in our rules.

6. Rule 5 refers to Membership in both sets of rules. The membership class called ‘Honorary Membership’ in the current constitution has been deleted from the revised constitution because, being for only one year, its application is meaningless as a membership class. It has been replaced with ‘Affiliate Organisation Membership’, which although previously mentioned in the text, was not included as a membership class, even though it should have been.
The references to this class of membership at the end of the current constitution are reduced to some basic statements in the revised constitution because of the coverage provided in other documents. Other changes are mainly around consolidation and the removal of repetitive information.

7. Rule 6 in the current constitution is ‘Annual General Meeting and Conference’. This is Rule 8 in the revised constitution. The revised constitution includes the new definition of the role of the AGM as agreed at the Annual General Meeting, replacing the former definition of “supreme governing Body”, and states:
“The Annual General Meeting and Conference enables members from throughout the country to come together to share our lived experiences of blindness and express our views on the issues that restrict our ability to enjoy equal rights with those in the sighted community. The collective and informed decisions we reach as an outcome of such discussions gives Blind Citizens NZ the mandate to speak on our behalf and obliges the Board to act in a manner consistent with this mandate”.

This is a significant change because it establishes a relationship between the members and the Board that reflects what has been the situation for some considerable time now but which the current constitution does not acknowledge. Other changes made to this rule include a list of the normal business conducted at an AGM and a mention of how Branch and Network Representatives are supposed to vote on pre-circulated remits and resolutions. This latter point was never mentioned in the current constitution. Otherwise, much of the rest remains unchanged.

8. Rule 7 in the current constitution is ‘National Council’ and has been deleted from the revised constitution. As agreed at the 2018 AGM, National Council has been disestablished as part of our governance structure and Branch National Councillors are now to be called Branch Representatives.
They will however retain their current functions with the exception of their attendance at National Council meetings, which have also been disestablished under this name. Provision has been made however to allow for their attendance at special meetings called to discuss strategic issues which now appears in a later rule in the revised constitution.

9. Rule 8 in the current constitution is the ‘Board’. This is now Rule 6 in the revised constitution. It has been updated in the revised constitution according to the new Board composition as agreed at the AGM. These changes are:
• A three-year term of office for all Board members, including the National President;
• The Board to comprise six Members-at-Large plus the National President;
• An annual election for two out of the six Member-at-Large positions;
• The optional appointment (co-option) of a maximum of two Blind Citizens NZ members to the Board for a period of any length but not exceeding two years;
• The World Blind Union Representative to be an appointed rather than an elected position, with the WBU Representative being co-opted to the Board for the term of their appointment unless the appointee is already an elected member on the Board.

Another new feature added is a description of the role of the Board which includes the Board’s need to act in accordance with the mandate communicated to it by members, as well as a number of other functions common to boards in general. We cover process around co-option in some detail, as is the calling of special meetings to replace those of National Council. Other Board processes have been re-ordered into a better sequence.

10. Rule 9 in the current constitution has two sections. The first refers to the Management Committee. The original intention was to delete this in the revised constitution because it was entirely operational in nature. The second section of Rule 9 refers to Staff and will now appear alone in the revised constitution as Rule 7. There has been one minor change here relating to the need for monitoring and evaluation.

11. Rule 10 in the current constitution is ‘Elections’. This is Rule 9 in the revised constitution. The revised constitution is obviously very different from the current constitution in many respects since we now have a Board of seven and a three-year term of office with each annual Member-at-Large election being for the now only two Board positions held by retiring Board members. There will be no more extraordinary elections and, should one member-at-large position remain unfilled on the Board, no action will be taken given that co-option is always available if needed. If there are two or more Member-at-Large positions still vacant following the most recent election, or there were no candidates for the position of National President, the AGM itself will be required to take whatever remedial action is required.

12. Rule 11 in the current constitution (10 in the revised constitution) deals with establishing and disestablishing Branches and Networks. The operational instructions surrounding the formation of new Branches have been deleted in the revised constitution and transferred to the Operational Policies manual, leaving just a few basic statements describing this process. There have been some minor changes in the disestablishment area including what happens to branch funds when a branch is disestablished. The clauses surrounding Networks have been largely untouched, with the exception that the AGM no longer has to endorse their establishment/disestablishment but merely receives a report from the Board.

13. Rule 12 in the current constitution (11 in the revised constitution) deals with Branch and Network Responsibilities. A few references have been made to the functions of a Branch Representative in the revised constitution so that it is clear why there is such a position, but the rest of the changes are mainly cosmetic.

14. Rule 13 in the current constitution (Rule 12 in the revised constitution) is ‘Organisational Assets and Financial Administration’. The section on Pecuniary Gain in the revised constitution has been strengthened in line with the proposed new legislation on Incorporated Societies, which has come down hard on ensuring that any transactions do not have a material financial benefit for officials in the organisation. Otherwise, there have been some other minor tweaks to reflect current practice.

15. Rule 14 in the current constitution (Rule 13 in the revised constitution) ‘Common Seal’ remains the same.

16. Rule 15 in the current constitution (Member Discipline) has been replaced by Rule 14 in the revised constitution (Complaints and Grievances). The rule on Member Discipline was all about how members who have transgressed should be dealt with. Though this has been retained in the new rule, the emphasis is now on a member’s right to be heard in a dispute with the Board. This is in line with the new Incorporated Societies legislation and reflects a similar rule now included in the Blind Foundation’s constitution.

17. Rule 16 in the current constitution on ‘Special Representatives’ has been deleted. However, operational instructions with respect to the position of Patron have been transferred to the Operational Policies Manual. Prior to implementing procedures for the appointment of Patron, the Board will engage with members and seek feedback.

18. Rule 17 in the current constitution (Rule 15 in the revised constitution) relating to amending this constitution has been changed to reflect the process agreed at the AGM to allow all members to vote on constitutional changes.
It is broadly based on the Blind Foundation’s process but in a much simpler form and includes two ‘mail-outs’ to members; the first being notification of the proposed alteration and allowing for a discussion period, and the second of a much shorter duration to allow for voting. A summary of feedback received in response to the draft constitution, will be included with the proposed Constitution, when issued to financial members to vote on.

19. Rule 18 in the current constitution (Rule 16 in the revised constitution) on the winding up process, has been amended slightly to bring it more into line with the Blind Foundation’s constitution, which received legal scrutiny when it was being revised. In the unlikely event that we might need to implement this rule, we would no doubt seek further legal advice at the time.

Conclusion
The Board received its first draft of this constitution at its Annual Planning Meeting in November 2018. With a few minor amendments, this has the Board’s full support including the timelines for implementation. One of the amendments sought by the Board in November was to change the title of Executive Officer to that of Chief Executive. The current title gives a false impression of worth to the organisation that could reflect unfairly on the position when compared with the titles of those in similar senior management positions. The Board is fully in support of this change being adopted throughout the organisation, and is reflected in the draft constitution. We regard this as just another part of the process of bringing Blind Citizens NZ’s governance and operations into the modern era.

Feedback should be received no later than 4pm, Monday 1 April 2019.

This should be sent to Rose Wilkinson at one of the following:
• rwilkinson@abcnz.org.nz
• Phone: 0800 222 694
• PO Box 7144, Newtown, Wellington 6242

Jonathan Godfrey
National President
On behalf of the Board, Blind Citizens NZ



Constitution amended December 2018 by a meeting of National Council.

Categories: News and Events, Organisational, Publications