Fight for Grey Power turns ugly

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The fight to control Grey Power has gotten physical, with supporters of former president Neville Male forcing their way into the association’s office on Saturday and again on Monday morning.

 

They claimed to be the rightful committee and refused to leave, as did supporters of the Kevin Gardener-led group, which includes office manager Pat Carrick and the executive committee.

 

After the confrontation on Saturday, police told both parties to leave and gave the keys to the landlord until 8.30 on Monday morning, when they could prove who the rightful tenant is.

 

The scene was repeated on Monday morning with police again telling both parties to leave the building until the rightful group could be decided.

 

Yesterday the national federation stepped into the battle, declaring its support for Kevin Gardener-led group and saying it is the “proper authority to represent Grey Power in Nelson”, not the former president Neville Male.

 

Mac Welch, national chair of the Grey Power Federation legal and regulation standing committee, told Nelson Weekly he is “disgusted with the manner with which the good name of Grey Power has been brought into disrepute by some individuals in the Nelson area”.

 

“Because of the wide-spread publicity, members are becoming confused with the various public statements and many have contacted me directly, demanding that the federation sort out the situation between the factions – one led by Mr Gardener and the other by Mr Male.”

 

He went on to say Grey Power has been built by its volunteers and it’s “deplorable that the good work in the area is being undermined, and volunteer and staff reputations are being affected”.

 

By the end of last month, Mac says the federation was notified by Nelson Grey Power secretary that Neville’s Grey Power membership had been cancelled following a formal complaints hearing at which four of the five complaints were upheld.

 

“Following this, Mr Male’s contact details have been removed from the Grey Power Federation database. As a further consequence, the executive committee has recommended to the full board meeting in Auckland today [Tuesday] that Mr Male cease and desist from claiming any affiliation to Grey Power.”

 

Earlier, the battle for control of Grey Power literally turned into a struggle when the group backing Neville Male turned up on Saturday morning with a locksmith to change the locks. Office manager Pat Carrick was heading to the office to do some work and quickly let herself in and locked the Male supporters others out.

 

When another supporter of the anti-Neville faction turned up she opened the door to let him in and the others forced their way in, leaving the matter as a stalemate.

The police were called and they took the keys off both parties and gave them to the landlord until they could prove who the rightful tenant is.

 

The mess between Neville Male and the executive committee, who voted no confidence in him and later expelled him from the membership, began last year when a restructure was opposed by the office manager and many of the organisation’s volunteers.

 

Neville says he is still the president of the organisation as the attempt to kick him out was unconstitutional.

 

He has appointed new committee members to replace those in the other group.

 

But with the backing of the national federation, it appears the anti-Male faction have won their fight to led the group, which has around 9000 members in Nelson.

 

Kevin Gardener didn’t want to comment on the situation, other than to say Grey Power will hold an AGM in April to elect a new executive committee and president.