Historic: Electing the NBA President and Vice President...

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BOP Club
Back in the old days…”

Good way to start a story. Makes the start much easier. Many times when I start to write a story, I feel compelled to go back somewhat further in history, and then get so side tracked that I don’t ever get it written after all.

This might well be sleep-inducing for many, but I've tried to do some 'name dropping' so you might hear of the people who used to be beekeepers...

In these notes, I’ll mostly address issues relating to the composition of the National Executive of the National Beekeepers’ Assn. I got well and truly side-tracked this time by looking somewhat more into the NBA rules changes of 1975. And then looking into the various ways the NBA President and Vice President, and the members of the Executive have been elected over the years.

NBA President, VP and Executive - 1914 to 1975

Back in the old days, the final actions of an NBA Conference was the final business of the Annual General Meeting, the election of the members of the National Executive for the coming year, and the election of President and Vice President. It seems much the same process was carried out each year:
  • Election of President
  • Election of Vice President
  • Election of 2 Executive from the North Island, and 2 Executive from the South Island.

Effectively, any NBA member could be nominated for President (or VP), regardless of whether they had previously been on the Executive or not.

The nominations came in varying forms over the years - sometimes from branches or sometimes from members. Two things were consistent: all of the elections happened in person at the AGM and if there were insufficient nominations for a position, nominations could be made from the floor of the meeting.

The location of the Annual Conference could obviously have an influence on the composition of an Executive. Voting rights changed over time, but were hardly ever as simple as one vote per beekeeper. More often, voting strength might be calculated based on hive numbers. And from a very early time, back into the 1940s, the NBA championed, to some extent, a voting system that was preferential, and sometimes confusing the NBA voters.

Changes brought about by the Hive Levy

As the NBA came into the middle 1970s, a variety of things led to a relatively major overhaul of the NBA rules. Funding for the NBA had been in previous years by way of a grant from the Seal’s Levy funds collected by the Honey Marketing Authority. A Hive Levy system that provided funding certainty for the NBA also meant changes to voting and other aspects of membership, so President Ivan Dickinson led the Executive through a significant re-write of the NBA rules.

Though postal polls had been common for some bodies in the industry for many years, the NBA had persisted with the in person elections at the AGM for its own officers and Executive. The Honey Marketing Authority (HMA) had used postal polls since 1954, and other marketing bodies such as the Honey Marketing Committee in the late 1940s, but for whatever reasons, the NBA repeated much the same electoral process for about 60 years.

The changed rules introduced a postal poll for the six members of the National Executive, with a 2 year term on Executive and 3 members from the North Island and 3 from the South Island with a voting system weighted by hive numbers. But the rules retained the concept of voting for President and Vice President at the conclusion of the AGM in a ‘live’ vote.

So ‘in the old days’, it would not be surprising for someone to be elected as President or VP, not having ever previously served on the Executive. Sometimes it would seem that particularly eloquent Conference participation might be enough to warrant a nomination out of the blue. And to some extent, one could say that one could be elected President or VP without even needing to be elected to the Executive. The position of President or VP made them, ipso facto, members of the Executive, so they were not elected ‘to the Executive’.

But with the new NBA rules and the new postal voting, the members of the incoming Executive were known well before Conference began. The President and VP would be elected, by the AGM, from among these six Executive members.

The outgoing Executive was still active and ‘in office’ through the Conference, generally with some sort of ‘handing over the keys’ at a meeting following the Conference. The out-going Executive was there to report on their year’s work and to present their Annual Report and financial reports. The in-coming Executive was there to prepare for their next year, to listen to the voice(s) of Conference.

The 1976 rules

The new 1976 rules said that the new Executive would take office ‘commencing at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting immediately following their election.’ And it is that phrase that sits at the middle of a lot that I am writing in these notes.

When Ivan Dickinson, Mike Stuckey and others drafted the new rules, culminating with the adoption at a Special Meeting in May 1976, the intent was to
  • have 3 members from each island,
  • a 2 year term for Executive members,
  • a rotational retirement so not all from one island would retire at the same time.
To put the new rules into effect, there had to be a ‘change over’ plan. In 1976, the NBA had its first postal poll, electing six members to the Executive. And it would be the last election where all 6 Executive members were elected at one time. The President and VP were to be elected at the AGM at Conference in Taupo - with the nominations able to come only from the 6 newly elected Executive members. So strictly, at the 1976 Taupo NBA conference, all six Executive members were ‘new’ to the Executive, and had not (with an overly strict reading of the rules) taken office yet. If the intent was that the ‘new’ Executive could not stand for President or VP, no one could have been elected President or VP then!

What was the intent of the writers of this NBA rule? I believe it was simply acknowledging that ‘point of turnover’, where the new Executive, President and VP, officially ‘take over the reins’ of the organisation for the following year.

Let’s go to an NBA Conference in Nelson in 1983 and watch that all play out in practice. President Tony Clissold presided at the Conference, with Executive Secretary Steuart Goodman administering his own first conference. Prior to Conference, there had been Executive elections, so Conference knew who would be on the Executive for July 1983 to July 1984: Tony Clissold, Mervyn Cloake, Tony Lorimer, Ian Berry, Dudley Ward and Allen McCaw. Dudley Ward and Allen McCaw were newly elected, with Ian Berry returning as an Executive member.

Ian Berry was elected President, the only nomination. The only nomination for VP was for Allen McCaw, with Mike Stuckey saying he was ‘... a young man I think has a contribution to make, and who will go far in the industry.’

And that is what started me to write this all, hearing Allen McCaw joke that he became Vice President before he was even on the NBA Executive. Strictly speaking, that was true, if you read the 1976 rules in an unnecessarily strict manner…

The intent of the wording developed by Ivan Dickinson and others was not an attempt to limit the nominations for President and VP. Everyone fully expected to be able to nominate a President and VP from the six who would be the Executive for the coming year, regardless of that strict ‘commencing at the conclusion…’ phrase in the new rules.

It was, in fact, the second time the NBA had selected a VP from a newly-elected Executive member! In 1978, Paul Marshall was elected to the Executive, and then elected VP at that year’s Conference in Hastings, before he had ‘assumed office’, . There was no cry of ‘Paul Marshall can’t be VP because strictly and officially, he is not on the Executive yet!’

So though it didn’t occur often, the NBA clearly expressed the intent that a newly elected Executive member could become VP - the phrase ‘commencing at the conclusion…’ did not preclude either Paul Marshall in 1978, nor Allen McCaw in 1983.

In 1993 another instance of ‘election before office’ played out. Nick Wallingford was elected to the Executive, then elected President at the Tauranga conference in July 1993. If the rules were to have been read in a ‘constrained’ manner, he would not have been eligible to stand…


BOP Club
Part 2...

A different opinion on that rule

At the 1997 Nelson conference President Nick Wallingford indicated he would not accept nomination for President for the coming year, and that he would be resigning from the Executive at the end of the Annual Meeting. That’s a whole other story… Russell Berry was elected President…

As the next year’s 1998 Conference Waitangi conference drew nearer, the makeup of the incoming Executive was made known: Lin McKenzie and Bruce Stephenson were elected as ‘new Executive’, to join the existing Executive - Russell Berry, Terry Gavin and Tony Taiaroa and Keith Herron.

President Russell Berry made it clear that he would not be accepting a nomination for President or VP for either Lin or Bruce, deeming them not to be strictly and officially members of the Executive until after the AGM!

During his year as NBA President Russell Berry insisted his interpretation of the rules was correct, in spite of several legal opinions to the contrary. The issue was ‘fixed’ at the 1999 conference with a rule change to confirm that President and VP are to be selected from the 6 Executive members for the coming year..

That opinion applied to 1976?

Let’s go back to that 1976 transition when all the Exec had to resign…

‘Strictly and officially’, if President Russell Berry’s opinion in 1999 on the rules was applied to 1976 - there would have been no Executive members to choose between for nominations for President and VP!

Ivan Dickinson had initially indicated that for family reasons he would not be standing, but did in fact accept nomination for one of the 3 South Island Executive positions. The other 5 Executive for 1975 were Percy Berry, Mike Stuckey, Gavin McKenzie, Ray Robinson and Tony Clissold. All accepted nomination. Keith Herron was nominated for a South Island position, but lost the election to Ivan Dickinson, Tony Clissold and Gavin McKenzie.

(Both Keith Herron and Robert Davidson wrote to complain that they were required to vote for 3 of the 4 nominees - ‘But what if I only want to vote for one?’. The voting was weighted on hive numbers, and Ivan Dickinson explained concepts of splitting and weighting votes. I believe the system may have been modified for future elections.)

When it came time to elect a President and VP in Taupo in 1976, Ivan Dickinson refused nomination, and Percy Berry was elected President unopposed. Ivan remained on the Executive for a few more years, beginning his formal involvement with the HMA at that time. Mike Stuckey became VP, taking over from Percy Berry.

And the postal votes for NBA Executive began a pattern that would continue nearly 30 years, until a ward system changed things up again.
  • A postal vote in the early winter months,
  • alternating elections for 2 NI/ 1 SI, then 2 SI/ 1 NI, and
  • two years in office.
But each NBA AGM, an annual election for President and VP. In person. Every year…

And one last application of the newly refined rule?

President Terry Gavin did not accept re-nomination as President at the NBA Conference in Auckland in 2000, but he was, in this case, willing to accept a nomination for a newly elected in-coming Executive member - Richard Hatfield.