Changing direction: Sir Anand Satyanand and Melanie Thornton outline their vision for the NZIIA under the new arrangements recently approved by the National Council.

AuthorSatyanand, Anand

The NZIIA's key purpose is to foster wide understanding of international issues, trading partnerships and relationships with other countries. It has done this for many decades and continues to do so by creating a programme of events and initiatives that enable audiences to hear a range of speakers with various viewpoints. It hosts public addresses by visiting experts and dignitaries, conducts roundtable events, including Track II dialogues, and holds a regular conference. Eight branches around the country host a lively programme of events attracting good audiences, while the National Office has been hosting a range of events in Wellington and in Auckland over the last year. In addition, the National Office provides a strong communications programme via a membership newsletter, the New Zealand International Review, social media channels and its website.

If we envisage what the NZIIA might look like in 20 years' time, it is important to ask how much of the current governance and organisational structures will be relevant for that time. It is also important to consider how we can set up the NZIIA for the coming decades so that it is both agile and responsive, supporting all the branches and members, delivering on its commitments to MFAT and building value and pride in the organisation. While the NZIIA delivers a comprehensive programme of events across the country, there is a perception that it and its governance and structural arrangements are old-fashioned and not moving with the times.

With our appointment as president and executive director, respectively, it was inevitable that we would look at the organisation with fresh eyes. In no way were we criticising what had taken place during time of the previous holders of our positions. Our purpose was to examine whether the NZIIA was fit for purpose in a 2020 and onwards setting.

Change case

What fit for purpose meant for us, and those we consulted on this journey, encompassed effective and efficient governance, including recognising updated laws in the Constitution, improving the ability to attract new and retain existing members, serving the membership and those volunteering in the organisation better, operating in a digital environment more effectively and delivering value to our stakeholders and major funder.

During the process of reviewing the organisation, it became clear that, as a first step, it was important to consult widely, to listen to the branches and to undertake some research on how similar organisations like ours operate and whether we could learn from them. The other key issue was looking at whether there were any outstanding issues that really needed addressing.

The NZIIA has maintained its current structure and activities for the past 40 years. The governance structure has never been reviewed...

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