Baby steps in Plunket fight

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Plunket planning . . . Getting down to business to organise a court challenge to the national organisation taking over Waiau and Culverden Plunket assets are Brona Youngman, left, and her baby daughter; Grant Edmundson and Mia Hofsteede, from Helmore Stewart Lawyers in Rangiora; and Renee Dampier-Crossley. Also present were Dick and Jess Davison. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By ROBYN BRISTOW

A David and Goliath battle over the assets of Waiau and Culverden Plunket is under way.

Local communities have thrown their financial weight behind the two groups to help them take their challenge over ownership of their buildings to the High Court.

Efforts have started to get all the information together in preparation for court action aimed at testing whether the national body followed its constitution by properly consulting when transferring ownership of the properties from the local level.

Legal action was unanimously supported at a public meeting in Rotherham earlier this year.

Dick Davison, a Hurunui District councillor who chaired the Rotherham meeting, says enough money has been donated to test the viability of a submission to the District or High Court.

He says it follows several meetings and submissions to Plunket New Zealand, which seems resolute in its determination to, as he puts it, “strip local Plunket assets from the small rural communities”.

Planning got under way last Friday in Culverden, with Grant Edmundson and Mia Hofsteede from Helmore Stewart Lawyers present for a meeting.

Records and correspondence between the local branches and past office-holders of Plunket were consolidated and organised.

A barrister will now be briefed to prepare a case to take to the District or High Court.

“This is an action that may or may not succeed and it is important that the small group of dedicated and steadfast parents who have led this cause are supported by the wider community,” Mr Davison says.

“The achievement of a fund to initiate further action has been made possible by some very generous individuals.

“They know who they are, and our thanks and gratitude are due.”

He says he is proud of the generosity shown in funding the endeavour, and the efforts of the small group of parents, assisted by Mr Edmundson, who has provided free advice and encouragement, and continues to strongly support the effort.

“Whether we are successful, only time will tell,” Mr Davison says.

The efforts of the two Plunket communities are being spurred on by Waiau’s loss of its scout den – property which the national body has sold, as well as pocketing the insurance payout after it was wrecked in the 2016 quake.

It gave the community, which had built the den, maintained it and paid the insurance premiums, $20,000

The alleged lack of local consultation by Plunket NZ, which has also been evident with other volunteer-based service organisations, “requires a challenge”, Mr Davison says.

“They are undermining the very ethos that supports a voluntary organisation.
“Win, lose or draw, this is a real example of a rural community ready to
right a wrong and face down a bullying and bureaucratic organisation that has
lost touch with its original purpose, and the very people it is set up to serve.”

However, he cautions that the struggle is by no means over, and further contributions to the fighting fund, held in trust by the Amuri Community Trust, are welcomed.

“This effort has been strongly championed by motivated and informed individuals. It will require ongoing wider community support to
succeed.”

The Amuri Community Trust bank account for donations is
03-1582-0031492-00. Those giving money are asked to put the name of the donor in the “particulars” box, and “Plunket ¬†FF” in the “Reference” box”.