Embattled Grey Power president withdraws from fight

Neville Male, left, with Malcolm Saunders and Dan McGuire before a meeting called to vote on president Male's future ...

Neville Male, left, with Malcolm Saunders and Dan McGuire before a meeting called to vote on president Male's future with Nelson Grey Power, held at the Suburban Club.

Nelson Grey Power's ousted president Neville Male will not try to be reinstated at next week's annual general meeting - but says he would be happy to carry on as an unelected project leader.

In another twist the pro-Male "Progressive Group" has put up a full list of nominees for the management committee and officers, with the exception of a presidential candidate.

Male will be on a family holiday in Australia when the meeting is held on April 1. He said he continued to believe that the six committee members who ejected him were in breach of the association's constitution but was withdrawing from the fight.

There were "strong grounds" for court action but the time it would take and the high legal cost removed that as an option, he said.

However, he would not rule out a return to Grey Power once the dust has settled.

"Who knows what the situation might be in time to come? There's a lot of water to flow under the bridge before that could be considered, in particular a return to the role of president."

He said he would be prepared to be co-opted to and continue to lead Nelson Grey Power's involvement in four projects for which he was already the "front person".

These were a community plan for the ageing population, a review of hospital services in the top of the south, a review of the Nelson City Council's air quality plan as it applies to woodburners, and working with a new group to monitor noise from events around the city.

Male said there had been a lot of "unfortunate disharmony" within Nelson Grey Power since November, and everyone was sick and tired of it.

"We don't want to see this AGM degenerate into some sort of mud-slinging circus. Hopefully the membership can walk away knowing that whoever's been elected to office, through all the positions, has got a renewed mandate for the way forward for the association."

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He had nobody in mind for the president's role, Male said.

Stepping back now had produced mixed emotions - relief, disappointment and gratitude for all the support he had received.

"It's an emotional time, because of all those feelings coming through. My leadership went well for about 18 months but then finally, when some crunch decisions were made, certain people decided they weren't happy with those decisions and it all came off the rails."

Yesterday "Progressive Group" spokesman Errol Millar released a list of nominees it had put forward including Malcolm Saunders for vice-president, Garry Thompson for secretary and Eileen Wilkin for treasurer.

Out of respect for Male, the group hadn't nominated anyone for president, Millar said.

"As far as we're concerned, two special meetings have endorsed Neville as president, and we thought 'Well, if we're going to put somebody else up as president, we're accepting what the current regime has done by not listening to the members'."

The group's committee nominees are Peter Johnson, Rosalina McCarthy, Hugh Neill, Ron Oates, Meryl-Lynn Pluck, Hilary Upton, Reginald Upton and John Walker. Millar is not standing but like Male said he could be co-opted to help out later.

Vice-president Kevin Gardener, who has fronted the committee faction that pushed Male out, has consistently said he isn't interested in the president's job.

Yesterday he said he wasn't aware of anyone confirmed as standing for president. Nominations close at 4pm today and that's when it would become clear, Gardener said.

All the association's office-holders and committee members are elected annually.

The AGM is at 10.30am on April 1. Gardener said all Grey Power members were welcome to attend, but those whose financial membership had lapsed would have no voting or speaking rights.

The association would "probably" ask the national Grey Power Federation to chair the meeting, he said, but that would be decided at a meeting tomorrow night.

The pro- and anti-Male factions have been publicly at war since November, when simmering tensions within the 9000-member group surfaced. Six committee members passed a vote of no confidence in Male and when he refused to step down from the presidency, stripped him of Grey Power membership.

The Grey Power Federation also removed Male from its membership database - but two special general meetings in Nelson have strongly backed him.

 - The Nelson Mail


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