Tahuna centre offered lifeline

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Support for the embattled Tahunanui Community Centre has been swift.

The Nelson City Council announced on Monday that they would commit to fund management assistance to allow the centre to remain open for public use for the next three months.

A working group of local business people has also been set up to help steer the society that governs the centre back on the right track. And the children who went to the adjoining preschool have been offered places by the Nelson Tasman Kindergarten Association.

The moves come after revelations that the Tahunanui Community Centre Incorporated lost more than $100,000 in less than a year.

At a special meeting last week, it was voted to commence proceedings to liquidate the society which had oversight of the society and its adjacent preschool.

Currently the society owes $54,000, which exceeds its cash assets by almost $47,000 – this is largely made up of the need to pay its staff.

The centre put up a notice on its Facebook page in December saying that it had to close immediately.

The Nelson City Council community services chair Gaile Noonan says that the council wanted to help the board in a practical way to maintain access for the public while the board worked through the potential liquidation process.

“We’re very appreciative of the volunteers on the board and those assisting them, and we want to be supportive of the Tahuna community. We have taken this step in consultation with the TCC board and we’re working with them on other issues such as the lease for the preschool.”

Council’s temporary funding will mean that the centre can operate in the same way as council’s other community halls, and users can make bookings by calling 027 586 0107 or emailing sle@clmnz.co.nz.

Meanwhile, Murray Leaning, who is leading the working group of local businesspeople says that the funding is the first step to getting the centre back on its feet.

“From there it’s only a short leap to getting it fully operational.”

However, he admitted that the centre had a lot of issues to untangle.

“There are financial issues, governance issues, management issues, administration issues.”

He also says that the society has been operating unconstitutionally as it only had three board members when it needed five. It was also unclear exactly how much the society had in debt but it was in the tens of thousands.

Murray says that many volunteer boards work away without knowing the consequences of certain actions.

Now a special meeting to elect more board members is set down for the end of the month. He says all options are on the table, including potentially selling the building where the preschool operates from. The council owns the land.

“The centre is going to continue,” Murray says. “Absolutely every effort is going to be made to continue. It’s our whole focus. How we make that happen is the next challenge.”

A special general meeting to elect new board members will be held on January 30, at 4pm.

Nominations can be your nominations to mdleaning@gmail.com.

Craig Vercoe of the Nelson Tasman Kindergarten Association also says that they have taken the children who attended the centre’s preschool as they transition to other learning centres.