Reply To: Autonomy of Landsar.
Another challenging question, as always. It seems more like a question for a lawyer, not a garlic farmer from Taranaki!
LandSAR is an Incorporated Society as most, but not all, of the LandSAR Groups are. So, LandSAR is definitely a separate legal entity – that is, we have full legal obligations under acts like health and safety, financial reporting, et al. There are some changes to the Incorporated Societies Act which may change the status of these bodies – those suggested changes in the Bill can be found here – http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/business/business-law/incorporated-societies/incorporated-societies-bill-exposure-draft
We’re also, at the moment, trying to clarify the legal relationship between the groups and the national body – our current thinking is that individuals are members of a group and groups are members of LandSAR NZ. Once we’ve got some advice on this we’ll look to tidy up the ambiguity in the constitution.
But is LandSAR autonomous? My dictionary defines autonomous as “independent; self-governing”. Self-governing is defined as “exercising control over one’s own affairs”, and we, to a degree, have some control over our own affairs. However, we know that we are not completely independent and, the control we that we do have, has its limitations. In the first instance, LandSAR is part of a bigger Emergency Management family which covers many agencies and organisations. In the land search sector of this greater picture we are a partner with Police, RCCNZ, (Civil Defence) and the NZSAR Council. None operates without the other, and LandSAR has no legal mandate to operate/manage searches or rescues on its own volition. Secondarily, we are dependent on the funding streams that come from TEC, NZSAR, Police, RCCNZ and our commercial partners to function and operate.
So can we walk out of the garlic shed, pull on a rucksac and do what we want to do? No.
Do we have some ability to control our own destiny? Of course! However this limited by what we can control and what we can’t control. At the moment the Board is focusing very much on the things we can control – our own safety, the ability to measure our skills and competencies, our operational effectiveness, the tools we can use to operate better, etc. What we’re not going to do is spend a lot of time trying to change things we can’t change – although we will use our networks and resources to communicate improvement to our partners where we think this is needed, as we have with the HSE for ambos getting dropped into the backcountry.
Also the expectations of how we operate are increasing from our partners, the community and friends and family of the subject, as recent coronial inquests have indicated.
Hope this helps. A big topic and probably worth a book.