Greys back in power

Following a year of limbo, Te Awamutu Grey Power has formed a committee.

Last year the local 50 and over lobby group saw its president Hazel Barnes, secretary Meryl Reardon, and treasurer Bernard Westerbaan all announce their intention to resign. However, nobody stepped forward to take on their responsibilities.

From left, past and present Grey Power committee members; Hazel Barnes, Michael Cullen, Meryl Reardon, Bernard Westerbaan.

“We were stumped when I called for nominations for each role and received not one response,” said Barnes, at Grey Power’s annual meeting last Thursday.

Michael Cullen, who expressed his desire to revive the organisation last month, chaired Thursday’s meeting. He was voted to be its president by existing committee members and sought to form a new committee from the roughly 30 people who attended

“If we don’t get a committee, we don’t get Grey Power in Te Awamutu,” he said.

District councillor Barnes, now ex-president, supported Cullen with his call to action.

“It is imperative that this Grey Power organisation retain its role, not only here in Te Awamutu, but nationally. To keep the powers at be reminded of the special role senior folk play in our society,” she said.

“It is our responsibility to speak up and be heard, and be able to enjoy, be safe, and be respected in our community.”

They found a new committee in Westerbaan, who retained his position as treasurer, Dennis Howell as secretary, Chrissy Cullen as membership secretary, David Strawbridge, Susan Sircombe, and Colleen Neal.

“I think we have the makings of a good team,” Cullen said.

Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful in finding a vice president, and did not find the seven to eight committee members that were hoped for.

After the election, Cullen asked attendees what they wanted from the recently revived Grey Power.

“I see a great deal of people who want to do things, but there needs to be a catalyst to bring them together,” he said.

He hoped to introduce a social element to the Grey Power, which normally is politically focused.

“Is there another element that we could introduce to make Grey Power Te Awamutu more interesting, and more enjoyable for its members?” he asked.

“I know we have a political side, but I want to see the social side go as well. I believe they both go together, as a support mechanism for our Grey Power members.”

A lukewarm response was given to his inquiry.

“I am more interested in the concerns of the political side than I am of the social side. I feel you can get the social side at any other meeting; you can belong to a garden club,” one member said.

Others shared the same sentiment, which was turned into a point of motivation by Barnes.

“So, if it is not to be socially, let’s get cracking politically,” she said.

Constable Ryan Fleming also spoke at Thursday’s meeting. He addressed elder abuse, a concern of Cullen’s that was recognised globally the day before, as well as the Chamber of Commerce’s Ramraid Committee.

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