Outstanding in his field

RECOGNITION: Ray Kitchen with his Paul Harris fellow certificate and lapel pin, from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, recognising “tangible and significant” help for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world. Picture by Liam Clayton

RAY Kitchen remembers his father Allan being in the Rotary club in Whanganui.

He recalls the projects such as working bees at the YMCA camp off the Parapara — the road from Whanganui to Raetihi. It would have been 25 years since he had anything to do with Rotary when he, himself, agreed to join the service club at Warwick Steggall’s invitation in 2007.

By now transplanted to Gisborne, Ray was the Gisborne Girls’ High School executive officer looking after administration and finance.

A decade on, he is four years into a new administrative role at Stand Children’s Services, formerly known as the Children’s Health Camp, and has been named a Paul Harris Fellow.

This award from the Rotary Foundation recognises a person’s tangible support for its ideals of international peace and goodwill, and is named after the founder of Rotary International.

Looking back over Ray’s time in Rotary, the events that stand out for him relate to the establishment of a new Rotary club to replace the two that existed before.

The Rotary Club of Gisborne West grew out of the Gisborne club when membership was burgeoning in the 1960s.

But in the past two decades membership had declined — as it had for many service clubs — and members started to worry about the future of Rotary in Gisborne.

Ray served two consecutive terms as president of the Rotary Club of Gisborne. That, in itself, was a sign of a shortage of members coming through the ranks.

His first year as president was 2014/15.

“Two things — declining membership and the inability to easily attract new members — opened the way to a joining of the clubs,” he said.

He and the Gisborne West president of the time, Peter Dawson, talked informally about the possibility. The seeds of change for the club were sown.

The following year, after Ray had agreed to stay on, the idea of some sort of club merger took root.

“It had become obvious to a few of us that for Rotary to survive in Gisborne, the clubs had to merge. But how did the other club feel?” Pretty much the same, as it turned out.

A commonwealth of purpose

“Right from the start, we had a commonwealth of purpose,” Ray said.

“It was for the survival of Rotary in Gisborne. The mechanics of the merger were relatively straightforward. We wanted ‘Gisborne’ in the name of the new entity so the simplest thing was to call it the Rotary Club of Gisborne . . . same name as one of the old clubs, but a new entity.”

The ease of the transition was helped by the appointment of Gisborne West’s last president, Carol Shepherd, as the first president of the new club in July 2016. Gary Hope took on the role in July this year.

“I think it has gone well,” said Ray, who wanted to acknowledge the counsel of another two-term Gisborne president, Les McGreevy.

“It would be a shame if service clubs were no longer able to attract members but, given that society is changing, it is hard to tell what the future holds,” Ray said.

“Rotary is booming in Asia but not in the Western world.

“I don’t see a magic bullet. Clubs just have to keep trying. I think not being rigid with rules and regulations, but still maintaining the philosophy — service above self — is relevant.”

Ray recalls that when his father was a Rotarian, clubs encouraged diversity of membership by admitting only one member of each profession or business. Clubs could get around that restriction by dividing professions into subgroups, but eventually membership was broadened to allow anyone of good character to join.

Great store was put on 100 percent attendance, and if a meeting was missed, members were encouraged to do a “make-up” by attending an alternative Rotary gathering.

“Clubs have become a lot more flexible; some meet only fortnightly now,” Ray said.

Ray enjoys the camaraderie of Rotary, and the knowledge that he is a member of an international organisation whose aim is to help others and spread peace and goodwill. Rotary is a driving force behind the campaign to rid the world of polio, and clubs have their own projects to help those in need around the world.

Born in Whanganui and educated at St Patrick’s, Silverstream, at Upper Hutt, Ray started his working life in an insurance office in Whanganui.

Nine months later, in 1968, he joined Dalgety, a stock and station agency in Australia and New Zealand, controlled from London.

He lived in Whanganui until November 1978, when he moved to Whakatane as branch accountant. In November 1983, he came to Gisborne in the same role.

By then the company was known in this part of the country as HBF Dalgety.

“Through my time with Dalgety — 29 years — I never left the company but it had eight name changes through mergers.”

In 1997 the company centralised its accounting and administration, and 26 branch accountants lost their jobs.

“Every single one of us got another job,” Ray said.

RAY Kitchen remembers his father Allan being in the Rotary club in Whanganui.

He recalls the projects such as working bees at the YMCA camp off the Parapara — the road from Whanganui to Raetihi. It would have been 25 years since he had anything to do with Rotary when he, himself, agreed to join the service club at Warwick Steggall’s invitation in 2007.

By now transplanted to Gisborne, Ray was the Gisborne Girls’ High School executive officer looking after administration and finance.

A decade on, he is four years into a new administrative role at Stand Children’s Services, formerly known as the Children’s Health Camp, and has been named a Paul Harris Fellow.

This award from the Rotary Foundation recognises a person’s tangible support for its ideals of international peace and goodwill, and is named after the founder of Rotary International.

Looking back over Ray’s time in Rotary, the events that stand out for him relate to the establishment of a new Rotary club to replace the two that existed before.

The Rotary Club of Gisborne West grew out of the Gisborne club when membership was burgeoning in the 1960s.

But in the past two decades membership had declined — as it had for many service clubs — and members started to worry about the future of Rotary in Gisborne.

Ray served two consecutive terms as president of the Rotary Club of Gisborne. That, in itself, was a sign of a shortage of members coming through the ranks.

His first year as president was 2014/15.

“Two things — declining membership and the inability to easily attract new members — opened the way to a joining of the clubs,” he said.

He and the Gisborne West president of the time, Peter Dawson, talked informally about the possibility. The seeds of change for the club were sown.

The following year, after Ray had agreed to stay on, the idea of some sort of club merger took root.

“It had become obvious to a few of us that for Rotary to survive in Gisborne, the clubs had to merge. But how did the other club feel?” Pretty much the same, as it turned out.

A commonwealth of purpose

“Right from the start, we had a commonwealth of purpose,” Ray said.

“It was for the survival of Rotary in Gisborne. The mechanics of the merger were relatively straightforward. We wanted ‘Gisborne’ in the name of the new entity so the simplest thing was to call it the Rotary Club of Gisborne . . . same name as one of the old clubs, but a new entity.”

The ease of the transition was helped by the appointment of Gisborne West’s last president, Carol Shepherd, as the first president of the new club in July 2016. Gary Hope took on the role in July this year.

“I think it has gone well,” said Ray, who wanted to acknowledge the counsel of another two-term Gisborne president, Les McGreevy.

“It would be a shame if service clubs were no longer able to attract members but, given that society is changing, it is hard to tell what the future holds,” Ray said.

“Rotary is booming in Asia but not in the Western world.

“I don’t see a magic bullet. Clubs just have to keep trying. I think not being rigid with rules and regulations, but still maintaining the philosophy — service above self — is relevant.”

Ray recalls that when his father was a Rotarian, clubs encouraged diversity of membership by admitting only one member of each profession or business. Clubs could get around that restriction by dividing professions into subgroups, but eventually membership was broadened to allow anyone of good character to join.

Great store was put on 100 percent attendance, and if a meeting was missed, members were encouraged to do a “make-up” by attending an alternative Rotary gathering.

“Clubs have become a lot more flexible; some meet only fortnightly now,” Ray said.

Ray enjoys the camaraderie of Rotary, and the knowledge that he is a member of an international organisation whose aim is to help others and spread peace and goodwill. Rotary is a driving force behind the campaign to rid the world of polio, and clubs have their own projects to help those in need around the world.

Born in Whanganui and educated at St Patrick’s, Silverstream, at Upper Hutt, Ray started his working life in an insurance office in Whanganui.

Nine months later, in 1968, he joined Dalgety, a stock and station agency in Australia and New Zealand, controlled from London.

He lived in Whanganui until November 1978, when he moved to Whakatane as branch accountant. In November 1983, he came to Gisborne in the same role.

By then the company was known in this part of the country as HBF Dalgety.

“Through my time with Dalgety — 29 years — I never left the company but it had eight name changes through mergers.”

In 1997 the company centralised its accounting and administration, and 26 branch accountants lost their jobs.

“Every single one of us got another job,” Ray said.

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