In this Chair’s report, I would like to reflect on the very significant changes in CLNZ governance since 2014 which now position CLNZ well, to respond to current and future strategic challenges.
Emeritus Prof. Pat Walsh
A year ago, I began the Chair’s report by stating that I would step down from my role with the Copyright Licensing New Zealand (CLNZ) Board at the end of 2021. However, in Board discussions, a consensus emerged that, given the challenges facing the organisation, including those presented by the pandemic, this was an important time for continuity in the Chair’s role. I was asked to continue as Chair for 2022 and agreed to do so. A year on, while some of these challenges remain, the organisation has risen to, and is managing, these in a robust way. I say now, even more confidently than I did last year, that this will be my final year as Chair and as a director of CLNZ.
There were a number of changes to the composition of the CLNZ Board in 2021. Dana Wensley, who had served two terms as a New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) appointee, and Andrew McKenzie, who was appointed with me as one of CLNZ’s first two independent directors in 2015, both stepped down. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Dana and Andrew for their sterling service. We welcome their replacements from 2022, Mandy Hager as an NZSA appointee and Karun Shenoy as an independent director. The Board was also pleased to appoint Anaru Tuhi (Waikato-Tainui) as our first Board intern, a position created to provide a governance learning opportunity for the next generation of directors. As with all our director appointments, we used a skills framework for the intern position. We also sought someone who could contribute to the Board’s understanding of te ao Māori and/or Pasifika peoples and who would bring a fresh and dynamic perspective to Board discussions.
Staff health and safety was a key area of focus for the Board in 2021 – as in the year prior. This focus reflects both the Board’s governance responsibility in this area and the particular challenges presented by COVID-19. It was a difficult year for CLNZ staff who experienced four lockdowns and necessarily spent much of 2021 working remotely. To ensure the Board’s confidence that it was monitoring the important issue of health, safety and wellbeing appropriately, Chief Executive Paula Browning issued a new series of reports to the Board. These summarised data, on an anonymous basis, from weekly check-ins with all staff on their health, safety and wellbeing. In addition, the Board received the results of the biennial staff satisfaction survey in 2021. The extremely positive responses from staff, both in the weekly check-ins and to the survey, reflect well on the Chief Executive and on the resilience and adaptability of the members of the CLNZ team.
Another area of focus for the Board in 2021 was the continuation of its work on culture and diversity. The integration of culture and diversity goals into the CLNZ Business Plan was a clear signal that these goals are seen as key strategic objectives for the organisation. The Board also carried out its biennial self-review and evaluation of the Chair’s performance as part of our continuing commitment to best practice governance.
In addition to pandemic, CLNZ faced several further key external challenges in 2021. Of particular note was the ill-considered proposal by the National Library to donate substantial copyright material to the Internet Archive. It was pleasing to see the combined and successful response by CLNZ, the New Zealand Society of Authors and the Publishers Association of New Zealand to this existential threat to copyright which reflects the increasingly joined up approach the three organisations have taken in recent years. The CLNZ Board places the highest importance on positive and productive relationships with our two shareholders and looks forward to this continuing into the future.
I conclude, as I did last year, by thanking my fellow directors for their commitment to the principles which drive CLNZ, their diligent attention to their fiduciary responsibilities and their generosity of spirit, all of which ensure that Board discussion is informed, strategic and collegial. CLNZ is outstandingly well served by Paula’s strategic vision and tactical acumen and by the high-quality team she has assembled. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to chair CLNZ and I wish the organisation, and everyone associated with its work, all the very best for the future.