November 2020

From the President’s Desk

Graeme Faulkner, President, Grey Power Marlborough

The election is now finally over and we are able to move on to different things. We did however have three very successful meet the candidates meetings in Picton and Blenheim, for which nine candidates turned up.

It was pleasing to note just prior to the election that all of the candidates supported the appointment of a seniors’ commissioner. Grey Power has been asking for this for a number of years so it was good to see it come to fruition.

Grey Power Federation held its AGM two weeks ago after three previous attempts were thwarted by Covid-19. Numbers attending were also down for that reason.

We did, however, elect a new president, Jan Pentecost, who will also be the first female president for Grey Power.

Jan is very interested in lobby visits to Parliament and will continue to do so as the leader in the future. We all look forward to working with Jan.

Grey Power also continues to support the Clubs of Marlborough by taking part in a recent open day. Although not completely successful, it has given us food for thought for future action.

This is a great asset to the town; for our older members who may feel lonely, this establishment can offer a great deal of support and a chance to meet new friends.

Grey Power NZ president shares vision

Jan Pentecost, President, Grey Power NZ Federation

Martin Luther King Jr started his famous 1963 speech with the words, ‘‘I have a dream’’, and although his dream of a world based on equal civic and economic rights, and an end to racism, is one I have also, my dream for older people in New Zealand, through Grey Power, is carry out our first constitutional objective to advance, support and protect the welfare and wellbeing of older persons in New Zealand.

The core business of Grey Power, therefore, is to do this through advocating.

I have heard members and others say that Grey Power achieves very little and I guess perceptions of what counts as success differ.

However, we do have gains from lobbying, which is not just a job for the Federation Board. Every member association plays a part by advocating in its patch, providing their experiences to the board so we have a strong evidence base to work with.

Some years ago, well-known lobbyist Doug Bailey provided the Board and an AGM with sound knowledge on how to lobby negotiate effectively. Some of us took this advice on board and followed it up with our own research.

Doug said it usually takes a long time to change things; that we can’t just visit a decision-maker, bash the table, make overt threats and get what we want overnight. It is a long and incremental process.

I think we do make a difference. Just having access to politicians and others is a good start; many other organisations don’t have that. The fact that just before the election all the main political parties, for the first time, agreed to support a seniors’ commissioner, after years of lobbying by Grey Power, is a good example of an important gain for us.

My vision, as the newly elected Grey Power president, is based on two basic features.

Firstly, competent leadership at the governance and management level is based on decisiveness, courage, passion, trust, respect for others and humility. To be humble, in this context, is to accept that I don’t know everything, but that I do know where to go for new ideas and other information.

For me, effective leadership is expressed well in the following two quotes:

"It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership." - Nelson Mandela

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." – John C. Maxwell

And I have some ideas about how board effectiveness and efficiency can be achieved.

For example, training & mentoring for the Federation board, delegating relevant responsibilities to those with the expertise to deal with them, and utilising the knowledge and expertise of Grey Power members and others across the country to encourage all decision-makers to embrace Grey Power policies are all part of the scheme.

Second is clear, concise communication, built on wide- spread collaboration, trust, respect and precise goals, all supported by good planning and effective conflict management. This cannot be emphasised enough.

This means communication in its widest sense based on the goals in the modernisation plan and adopted by the 2012 AGM. These goals include directions to the Grey Power Federation regarding its leadership role in the public debate and targeting specific issues which should be high profile, small in number and achievable.

There is no doubt that we have done and continue work on most of the modernisation plan goals, perhaps without realising it, but more action is needed to ensure Grey Power communications are much improved both internally and externally.

We also need to continue communication with like-minded organisations and as an example, Grey Power is putting evidence together regarding home care service cuts with the PSA and E Tu unions.

Communication requires balance, however, and although much Grey Power work goes on behind the scenes and it is difficult to know how much information we should provide to members, the board needs to ensure there is not information overload.

A final comment. Associations like Marlborough are the life blood of the Grey Power Federation, so please accept my sincere thanks for all the work you do for older folk in your district.

From the Vice-President

Gayle Chambers, Vice President, Grey Power Marlborough

It was great to see many associations present at the 2020 AGM, despite uncertainty around Covid-19 preventing some smaller associations from attending.

Associations voted in Jan Pentecost, to replace outgoing president Mac Welsh. Jan has been on the board of Grey Power Federation for many years, holding many roles. I believe Jan will be a fantastic leading advocate in Parliament and will work hard to lobby on behalf of seniors.

Share paths safely

Brian McNamara, Publicity Officer

My walking companion and I had been talking of the need for a protocol for the use of a shared space between cyclist and pedestrian.

This conversation was prompted by near misses with cyclists on the Taylor River reserve and the footpath in Market Street.

New signs on the Taylor River reserve paths provide that.

  1. Keep left.
  2. Move off path when stopped.
  3. Warn when approaching.

The signs on the path depict an older man walking with his hands behind his back.

Such a person is much in danger if hit by a cyclist, or caused to fall in avoiding a collision.

Grey Power asks for some consideration for people and respect for the rules when using this and other walkways.

Subscriptions due

New members welcome

Paid your sub yet? Subscriptions still need to be paid, since you are a member until you resign. Our budget is based on a predicted income mainly from subs.

In this newsletter you will read our work at local and national level goes on.

Our office staff are currently working on next year’s discount book, obtaining good deals for Grey Power members.

We attended the Auckland AGM and discussed keeping social housing for pensioners a high priority.

Having recently met with the Mayor, our advocacy work goes on; as with our MP, keeping them both informed of seniors’ issues to further advocate and act upon.

Housing, health and seniors’ employment issues are still monitored. We keep you abreast of progress locally and nationally.

We continue to represent members at the Older Person’s Forum with agencies and district councillors.

All this to support you? Paid your sub yet? Thought of joining us?

New social housing for Blenheim

Committee member Russell Hopkins reports that Kainga Ora Housing NZ has announced the building of 108 new rental houses in Blenheim over the next four years.

They will be mainly two- bedroomed and located in the Brewer St, Girling Avenue and Farmar St areas. Some existing HNZ houses in the same areas will be renovated for three bedrooms or plus homes.

The National Housing Waiting List shows 202 Marlborough families are seeking a home.