Canterbury A&P board members stepping down

The board of the Canterbury A&P Association has announced almost all of its members will step down later this year because it can no longer work with the association's general committee.

Canterbury A&P Association ex-officio president Bryce Murray would remain but all others, including three independent directors, would step down at the upcoming annual general meeting (AGM) on July 30.

In April the board announced it was cancelling the 2024 NZ Agricultural Show, held annually in Christchurch in November, due to financial difficulties.

It had since received $5m in funding from Christchurch City Council to pay off a loan to the council and secure the show's future.

Board chairperson Stewart Mitchell said the decision to step down had been made because the association's general committee was challenging their decision to call off this year's show.

"As a board we decided it was much better for time to be spent reviewing changes to the business, accumulating reserves and taking time to plan for a new and curated show in 2025," he said.

"Working collegially with the present leadership of the general committee has become difficult and the current situation has become increasingly challenging. We believe it is therefore in the best overall interests of the association for us all to step down," Mitchell said.

However, the board accepted the committee's opposition, he said.

The decision to cancel the show - except for livestock judging and competitions - was a very disappointing one to make and one the board did not make lightly, Mitchell said.

"Given the economic circumstances, we believe it was the only responsible and prudent decision to make. Enough income from the new trust to help support a show will not be available for at least a year."

Photo: George Heard
Photo: George Heard
The Wigram Road transaction with the Christchurch City Council was a critical step, but in itself will not ensure the survival of the business, said Steve Barry, outgoing chair of the audit and finance committee.

"The Canterbury A&P Association needs to make some fundamental changes, but that is challenging with the burden of 165 years of history, its governance structure and the weight of on-going expectation created by the city for the annual event," he said.

"I will leave the board knowing that its financial management, reporting and compliance practices are now of a high standard and hopeful that the need for material change will be embraced and acted on with urgency," Barry said.

Mitchell said the process had been building for some time.

"The AGM was the best time for members to vote in new directors. Due diligence discussions have been underway with prospective new directors and the board is working to ensure a smooth transition over the next three months," he said.

A new board will also be appointed at the meeting on July 30.