In March of 1993 I was appointed the honorary solicitor to the Canterbury Grape Growers’ Association. At that time the Association was a loose grouping of wine growers in the wider Canterbury area. My initial role was to advise and make recommendations concerning registration as an incorporated society and to lay out the steps required to achieve this. A name for the intended Society was agreed by the Association and submitted to the Registrar of Incorporated Societies for approval. I also submitted a draft set of Rules for approval by the Registrar. The approvals were confirmed. A public meeting was held on 2 June 1993 at Lincoln University where the matter of incorporation of the Association was fully discussed and considered. The meeting attracted some 30 people. I addressed the meeting to explain the process and the benefits /protection afforded by incorporation. The necessary Resolution was carried approving the draft Rules and for the Application for incorporation to proceed. The Application paperwork was completed at the meeting and duly lodged with the Registrar of Incorporated Societies in Christchurch. Incorporation was granted in the name of The Canterbury Grape Growers’ Association Incorporated on 4 June 1993. By incorporating the Association became a separate legal entity from its members. The members had no personal liability for the debts, contracts or other obligations of the Association. Likewise any property belonged to the Association itself and no individual member had any personal interest or right in such property. The Canterbury Region in the Rules of the Society was defined by reference to the area delineated in S.O. Plan no.18871 deposited with the Chief Surveyor of the Canterbury Land District. The Region extended to the Waitaki River in the south and to the Kaikoura District in the north. Full membership was open to any person, company, partnership or other incorporated body directly involved in the growing and production of grapes as a commercial enterprise in the Canterbury Region for the purpose of supply and/or for winemaking. Associate membership was available to any person, company, or partnership interested in or associated with grape growing or the wine making industry either within the Canterbury Region or elsewhere. An associate member had limited rights under the Rules. In a letter of 5 July, 1993 I was formally thanked by the committee of the newly incorporated Society for the work I had performed in providing legal advice and guidance for the establishment of the Society. I continued to be involved in advising and implementing changes to the Rules of the Society and registration of those changes with the Registrar of Incorporated Societies. By 1997 the Society was struggling to maintain membership numbers and there were governance issues around compliance with the requirements of the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 and Regulations. My last involvement with the Society was to give advice to the then president Colin Marshall in May 1997 prior to the AGM of 21 May, 1997. I was never involved thereafter.
At the end of 1993 I undertook a similar role as honorary solicitor for The Waipara Winegrowers’ Alliance. At a public meeting on 14 December 1993 the necessary Resolution and paperwork was completed for incorporation. The society was incorporated on 17 December 1993 under the name The Waipara Winegrowers’ Alliance Incorporated. In May of 1996, a qualified approval in principal was agreed by the New Zealand Grape Growers Council Inc, for Waipara to be recognised as a separate grape growing region in its own right. The Council suggested a name change for the Alliance, a change of the financial year from 31 March to 30 June ( subject to the approval of the IRD ), and certain Rule changes to better reflect the relationship with the national body. These suggestions were taken up by the Alliance and the necessary meeting of members and approvals from the Registrar of Incorporated Societies completed. The new name registered was The Waipara Winegrowers Incorporated. In later years I also provided legal advice and input around Special Meetings and further Rule Changes. All of this work was done on a ‘pro-bono’ basis. I had also served on the Committee of the Society in the 1990’s. My last written opinion was provided to the then President of the Society, Gwyn Williams, in late July 2012- leading up to the AGM of 16 August, 2012. Subsequent to the AGM I gave written notice to the secretary of the Society that due to personal factors I could no longer continue as the honorary solicitor to the Society; that my services were to cease with immediate effect. I never received a reply, nor was I ever formally thanked for my advice and services to the Society over some 18 years.
When we left Fiddler’s Green vineyard in2013, we did not receive any verbal or written contact from anyone on behalf of the Waipara Valley Winegrowers to express support or appreciation for our involvement in the local wine industry over the years. It was all taken for granted. The support we did receive was from neighbouring farmers who had no involvement in the wine growing industry. What we experienced was a very high level of indifference from the Waipara Valley wine growing community.
BARRY JOHNS ( aka Le Vigneron )