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.”