Governor- Designate Megan Allan writes:
It was no hardship to leave the cold, wet weather of N.Z. and head north to Tahiti for the 47 annual Kiwanis District Convention, 4-5 Sept. Moorea was made even better by the friendly hospitality of the Kiwanians of Tahiti. We landed in Papeete at 10pm at night, to be met by Kiwanis members from Papeete and were given the warmest welcome. They had made leis for each of us and organised transport to our hotel.
The following morning we had time to browse the markets of Papeete before catching the mid-day ferry to Moorea. On arrival, we were greeted warmly by Tahitian Kiwanians, with more leis and lots of “kissing”. The two hotels where the majority of conference goers were accommodated, had a variety of garden and beachfront bures (wood and straw huts) with some guests taking advantage of over-water bungalows.
Friday started with the usual pre-convention trustee meeting, the last of the year for Governor Laetitia. Trustees approved the three resolutions to be voted on at convention (see below). A decision was made on the newly amalgamated Auckland division which will be officially known as “Division 1”. Although the District is still in deficit it was gratifying to hear that the annual accounts were $5000 less than the budgeted amount.
A traditional Tahitian start to convention saw the country flags being brought in by local children and a marquisian song performed by the locals. Welcome speeches were followed by remembrance candles for nine people who have passed on in this last year, including Lieutenant Governor Gloria Langley. Leis were given to club members of those who had passed, to release into the water at the end of the jetty, which was a fitting tribute.
The keynote speaker was Doctor Philippe Bidrez who talked about the problem of rheumatic fever in French Polynesia and the Pacific. He gave an example of a four year old child he treated whose parents didn’t ‘understand’ the problem and didn’t follow up with further treatment. This meant the child had to be flown to NZ for surgery followed by daily treatment until she was 40 years old. When she was 18 she represented pregnant, delivered a premature baby and as a result of her condition is now on treatment for life. He explained that situations like this can be prevented by treating children with sore throats immediately and giving at risk children monthly preventative shots.
In Moorea a new method to diagnose rheumatic fever using ultrasound is being used, but the medical profession in French Polynesia and the Pacific needs to be educated. His aim is to prevent all children in the Pacific from contracting this disease. Dr Bidrez is a dedicated professional, trying to make a difference in a world where education and funding would help immensely. Sadly it is an all too familiar story.
Workshops at convention included Clinton Green reviewing the growth initiatives of the past year. He congratulated Governor Laetitia and the Division 6 growth team on the efforts in Fiji (where the first Kiwanis club in that country was chartered on 12th September and another club was formed in Nandi the same weekend.)
Jo Cano presented an overview of changes to Key Club fees – from the beginning of the upcoming year each Key Club will pay an annual fee of $50 to Kiwanis International and be requested to supply a database of members’ names to be held at the international headquarters. The NZ privacy act may have implications regarding this, but it is to be addressed at KI by the incoming International Counsellor, Marcel Kreienbühl, from Switzerland.
Marcel, who already speaks multiple languages, began his address to convention in Tahitian. He received a rousing cheer for his efforts and later admitted that he had asked the manager of his hotel to help him with the translation! Marcel highlighted a few key issues from Kiwanis International, such as the importance of image and branding, the international dues increase (which will be readdressed at KI after post-convention discussion), and talked about 100 Year celebrations and initiatives that have been put in place to grow the organisation in the next century, in particular worldwide partnerships with Up with People, Youth Chamber International and Sister Cities International.
Marcel and his wife Heidi, joined in with the spirit of the Tahitian convention and had a thoroughly enjoyable experience meeting as many people as they could from our district. After convention they represented KI at the charter of the new club in Suva and then did a brief tour of the North Island of New Zealand before heading back to their home in Switzerland.
The business session ensured there was some lively debate. The first resolution to replace the existing district bylaws with bylaws revised by KI was succinctly explained by Laws & Regulations chairman Michael McIvor, and carried. The second resolution regarding reimburse-ment of expenses, was withdrawn to be discussed by the district trustees. The third resolution, approved by the trustees in February 2015, to allow greater assistance to Vanuatu, was put and the discussion became very lively, but the vote was lost.
Two workshops were held on Saturday – a ‘how to run a meeting /how not to run a meeting’ session by FUN Chairman Lucien Blanc and his team, where there was lots of kissing and laughter going on and later in the day, Governor-designate Megan Allan presented the new website to convention, after starting her session with a Christmas decoration making team activity. The decorations will be given to local children to decorate their Christmas trees.
Prior to Megan’s workshop, elections were held for the district officers for next year. The ‘man of much experience’ Treasurer Tony Popplewell accepted the role for a further year. Foundation Chair Patsy Hill was also voted to her position for a further year, Foundation trustee Duncan Gray was re-elected to the Foundation board and the new Governor-elect, Kiki Ringland, was accepted by popular applause. Colin McIntosh of Christchurch club took out the English Bulletin award this year and O’ea Calinaud from Aimeho Moorea club won the French award. There were no nominations for the Clinton Green award.
St Heliers club president Barbara Kelly, assisted by fellow club member Bob Jamieson, gave a presentation on the 2016 convention to be held in Auckland. Barbara commented that in 48 years of Kiwanis membership, her club has never hosted a convention, so they will be going all out to make it a great one!
Gifts were exchanged, Governor Laetitia closed the convention and everyone disappeared to their bures and bungalows to prepare for the formal dinner on Saturday evening.
On Saturday the new team was installed by International Counsellor Marcel.
A fashion parade of traditional Tahitian dress was presented by the Tahitian Kiwanians with two solo dance demonstrations before everyone joined the dance floor. Dancing continued well into the small hours both nights.
The local Kiwanians had organised a boat trip to Motu Island on Sunday to enjoy swimming with stingray and sharks and a sumptuous picnic. The weather was superb and the company convivial making it a fitting end to a special convention.