In the early stages everybody from both Clubs made an effort to work together . We tried bowls and the bowlers tried petanque. Some of the bowlers came to our fund raising events and we were invited to their Christmas party. We had a joint promotion for new members but of the 120 who attended only 6 tried bowls. Our Club grew from 70 members to 100 by October 1997.
While most of the North Hagley Bowls members had little contact with the Christchurch Petanque Association members, there were some who found our very presence abhorrent. They looked for petty infringements of their club protocols and several incidents marred the relationship between the Clubs.
In an attempt to improve this relationship, we had a joint committee meeting of both Club committees. The Petanque members had no idea of the depth of the "anti Petanque" feelings held by some of the bowlers. The two committees resolved to appoint a sub committee to try and work through the issues. Kyran Newell prepared a very good and fair agreement covering the issues but North Hagley Bowls would not accept this agreement.
Every month our President would check with North Hagley Bowls regarding the required changes to their constitution. There were always delays as they were not sure which constitution was their correct one and at this time all Bowling Clubs were being asked to adopt a standard Bowls NZ constitution.
We had valid concerns over the lack of security of tenure so Christchurch Petanque Association decided to hold our annual subscriptions to North Hagley Bowls in a Trust account in an endeavour to get North Hagley Bowls to make the required changes. We also suggested changes to give our members equal voting rights.
North Hagley Bowls allowed our President , David Direen to attend their meetings as a non voting observer but whenever anything to do with Petanque was raised, they would vote to go into "committee" and our representative would have to leave. After 18 months and little or no progress, to safeguard our situation., the members of Christchurch Petanque voted to pay their content of the joint subscription into a Trust account to be released when the North Hagley Bowls constitution was amended
The North Hagley Bowls response was to refuse to allow the facilities to be used for social events, to fail to reimburse the Petanque section for half of the costs of materials and paint used for painting and repairing the clubrooms, sheds and park benches. They then surrendered their lease without notice and without giving Christchurch Petanque any opportunity to make representations to the Council and request the assignment of the lease.
North Hagley Bowls then lodged a claim with the Disputes Tribunal for $3690.00 and Christchurch Petanque lodged a counter claim for $7336.38 for loss of income from cancelled social events and the cost of repairing the damage caused when the rubber strip around the Petanque terrain was removed.
Ivan Hansen, Andrew Findlay and David Clarkson headed the "defence" team. At the Hearing, David recognized that the Referee was a primary schoolfriend so he had to cool his heels in the waiting room. Ivan had researched the claim and obtained a High Court precedent. Cabaret Holdings Ltd v Meanee Sport and Rodeo Club Inc and had a copy of the North Hagley Bowls constitution. This precedent proved that an Incorporated Society could only provide services which were in their constitution. As the North Hagley Bowls constitution did not provide for social members, they could not claim our subscriptions.
We sent copies of this reported Court ruling to the Disputes Tribunal in time for these to be distributed to North Hagley Bowls. Even the wait for the Hearing became tense as when they were asked if they had received the information, they replied it would make no difference as they were going to win anyway. At the Hearing both sides presented their claims but, as predicted, Ivan's precedent proved vital and the North Hagley Bowls claim was dismissed. Hurrah!
As Christchurch Petanque had no wish to profit from the issue, we had previously agreed to withdraw our counter claim if the North Hagley Bowls claim was dismissed. Some two and a half hours later we emerged from the Hearing victorious but too wound up to be able to sleep that night.
Christchurch Petanque Association applied to the Christchurch City Council to have the lease assigned but as the Council wanted the grounds for other purposes this request was declined so we then applied to lease just the area we occupy. There were objections to our lease application and after several years and no progress we still do not have a lease.
The Council has been very supportive and has recorded a "minute" that we were to be granted a lease for 10 years from 1998. This relates to the grounds only not the clubrooms and there is no provision for renewal.
The Council has indicated they will help our Club find a new Petanque area as good as, if not better than our present location and they will help with relocation costs.