Good evening ladies and gentlemen and thank you for attending this annual general meeting of our club. Membership of the club stood at 114 at the end of the financial year on 31st March. This is the highest figure recorded in recent years and a considerable improvement over the same time last year when we had 91 financial members. At the end of the financial year quite a few members retired their membership mainly because they have sold their vehicles or are moving out of the district. As the year progresses new members are recruited and with improved economic conditions we are able to welcome a steady influx of people who decide that they would like to be part of the club.
Our recent programme of activities has provided at least one promotion every month and attendance figures have ranged from good to very good. The annual overnighter run took place recently in conjunction with the Midland Club and an impressive convoy of Benzs toured the Coromandel Peninsula in perfect autumn weather. Two annual dinners were held, one in mid winter and one just before Christmas. Our members erected the club marquee at two car shows, at Western Springs and the Intermarque at Ellerslie. The Galaxy of Cars attracted a record number of member vehicles and all visitors were invited to vote for their favourite cars. The ever popular Garage Raid was particularly well attended and there was a good turnout for the Grass Gymkhana at Pukekohe. A band of fearless drivers took to the track at Hampton Downs and most (but not all) returned home with their cars in approximately the same shape as when they departed in the morning. The rally scene was well catered for with a Top Down event, the Intermarque fun run, Mystery run and an Economy run. We have not had an economy run for some time and some cars produced good figures whilst others did not. Each car was weighed at the start and I was personally amazed at the weight of my SL500… the weighing marshal pointed out to me that the gross tonnage of the vehicle included the weight of the driver.
The committee have met every month to attend to the routine affairs of the club and more importantly to decide on future activities. Our new treasurer, Vivian Decker, has produced monthly and annual accounts with incredible speed and accuracy; I have never experienced such prompt reporting, which has resulted in everyone knowing the exact financial status of the club at any given moment – well done Vivian! Secretary Barbara is now well in to the swing of things, full of suggestions, enthusiasm and the joy of life; what a difference it makes to have enthusiastic people on the committee. Vice President Garry can always solve any problem that may arise, his work as president of the Concours committee has resulted in a very healthy profit at the Ellerslie car show and our club will shortly receive a handsome dividend as a result of Garry’s efforts. Brian Hood’s work as membership secretary and rules specialist continues to be invaluable and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the club at both local and national level is of great help to me. Club Captain Chris Haliday has had a busy year and along with Angelique hosted a lovely Christmas party at their home. Magazine editor and communications specialist Alison Lambden is constantly reminding your president of things that he has not done, ought to do and should not do; a very valuable committee member who is producing by far and away the best section of the national magazine, plus the only worthwhile website of any member club in the country. Baji Antia ran (once again) the Galaxy of Cars show at Western Springs. Colonel Baji goes about this work with the smooth precision of a nicely tuned engine just emerging from the works at Stuttgart; the record entry of vehicles was arranged with great dexterity and military precision. Bill Bray (currently enjoying the delights of sunny Italy) arranged the mid winter dinner at The Surrey Hotel and also barbecued more sausages for the club than any other man resident in New Zealand. Graeme Collie produced an economy run that was great fun and followed this up with an impressive judge’s report of just how the final placings were arrived at. Ken Williams produced a wonderful day for our drivers at Hampton Downs and another sterling performance at the grass gymkhana where his laid-back laconic style produced enthralling courses where in many cases he was the only competitor capable of completing the course in a fast time with no errors.
On the national scene our president Peter Shelton in Palmerston North continues in office with the aid of secretary/treasurer Maxine Burt in Christchurch. As I mentioned last year Mercedes-Benz New Zealand are no longer able to provide the generous sponsorship that used to be available to offset the cost of magazine production. Some advertisers have been found which is a help but the cost of a monthly magazine continues to be a burden. Last year I reported that the Manawatu Club had dis-affiliated from the national body and some 50 members were in limbo as a result of this dispute. The renegade faction that caused this dispute has itself now split off in another direction and it looks as if the former Manawatu members will shortly be welcomed back to the fold. This subject is to be discussed at the forthcoming national AGM in Christchurch in a few days time. Magazine editor Sami Abhayagunawardena is producing the usual 11 issues a year from Christchurch and there has been a considerable improvement in delivery dates with most issues arriving right at the beginning of the month. We have had an approach from a company in Auckland who would be interested in producing the magazine on our behalf. I feel that it would be worth examining their proposals but there seems to be no enthusiasm for this project from the national executive; we will discuss this matter further at the meeting in Christchurch.
This is my fourth annual report to members. I feel that the club is in good heart and well served by an enthusiastic and active committee. My best wishes to you all and thank you for being here tonight.