WTBA Members: Simon Fern (Vice-president), Su Mon (Treasurer), Tracy Williams (Secretary), Theja Wijweera (Assistant Treasurer), Aru Vythilingam (Officer), Ros Evans (Officer), Janet Matehe (Officer). Bo Vythilingam, Savitri Homer, Sern-ty Lim,Viphavadee Krech, Lionel Loo, Sim Loo
Guests: Angie Stanton, Robert Frazer, Cameron Bentley, Stefan Dudley, Jeremy Cole, Romani Jayasinha, Sandy Ng
Welcome and Apologies: Ajahn Kusalo as chairperson welcomed and thanked everyone for attending, and began the meeting with a few minutes silence.
Minutes of July 29th 2012 Meeting were adopted as a true and accurate record. (Theja moved, Aru sec).
There were no matters arising and the minutes of the AGM held on July 29 2012 Sangha Report
I have been at Bodhinyanarama for a year now and have no hesitation sharing the joy experienced during this time. This has been due to many factors, the main one being the continuing and expanding support and commitment of the lay community. That's all of you! and many others not present today. This participation has included a similar interest in Dhamma with the bi-monthly meditation workshops, children's classes, Sunday evening talks and retreats all being very well attended. Danas are well provided with the roster system continuing to work well, frequently supplemented by spontaneous visitors. Several groups from the Wellington region have made visits and all have appreciated the feeling of peace and their exposure to Dhamma. There has been a steady flow of residential guests, both kiwis and travellers from various countries. We counted ten different nationalities for breakfast one morning. The persistent momentum in all these areas creates an overall feeling of community cooperation and goodwill.
The Sangha has not changed greatly over the year. Venerable Thitavijjo is currently waiting for his visa extension and Venerable Hiriko is now in residence and plans to be here for a year or so. Ajahn Rocano will be joining us for vassa from Dhammagiri Monastery in Brisbane. We were happy to have Ajahn Tiradhammo with us for three weeks and also a two week visit from Ajahn Ariyasilo. There have been Sangha visits to groups in outlying cities and it is hoped that this extended network of Dhamma friends will grow over the years. I plan, roughly, to travel overseas twice a year to visit my mother. Part of these trips will include developing friendships in Thailand and Malaysia. The working relationship between Sangha and the committee has continued extremely well with all decisions being made through unanimous agreement.
There have been a few projects around the monastery with the sala by-pass as one of the more visible. The sala is no longer a thoroughfare and the Chao Khun's kuti is noticeably more private. The land swap with council will not only resolve the trespass issue but increase the monastery area and further protect our Eastern boundary. The sealing of the driveway and car park will both add aesthetic value and put an end to skidding and cars stuck in the ditch. Recommendations from 'Forest & Bird', D.O.C. and Hutt City make it clear that the pine trees are both a potential hazard and ecological infringement. There is no clear removal plan in place but the general direction is clear. The 'Gratitude Garden' in front of the kitchen has been completed; a another testimony to the generosity of this community.
One of the interesting challenges in a monastery is maintaining balance between creating a dynamic and spacious environment to accommodate the wide range of opportunities that bring people here, and creating a still and silent environment where the focus is more on spiritual training; and to do this without creating tension between the two. The area around the sala and kitchen is where most people arrive and where most of the (visible) action takes place. We are blessed with enough land so that other distinct areas can be determined with other functions. To talk of a monastic village is going a bit far but to think in terms of inter-related, complementary areas of activity seems reasonable.
The plan is to more clearly define public, lay, monastic and hermitage areas. The delineation of the monastic area includes the upper house and triplex; occasional lay accommodation. Initially building two more kutis in the lay zone will help balance this. Future considerations will allow for long-term lay residents, stewards and retreatants as well as guests. The monastic area is already fairly clear. The hermitage pivots around the existing retreat kuti and forming an access track and clearing a couple of kuti sites is the first stage. Simple facilities will be developed, as required, to support the relative independence of this area. The sala and kitchen is the logical, public hub. Things seem very stable financially and these plans can be gradually implemented. A budget for the land swap and car park has already been allocated.
I hope that this covers most of the major elements in and around the monastery, both in terms of history and future possibility. There are so many small, and not so small, details missing here that breathe life into this place and the people joined to it. These details consistently intersect through generosity, kindness, patience, compassion and many other wholesome qualities which, among other things, gives rise to tremendous gratitude. I am so grateful to be able to be here and to be a part of this community. Thank you.
(Su moved to accept Sangha report, Tracy sec)
• Council Land swap. To proceed in the next few months. Monastery gains another 15 acres of land at a cost of $30,000.President's Report -
Given by Vice President, Simon Fern
Welcome and greetings to everybody . Ajahn Kusalo's Sangha report has covered most of the events so I would just like to share with you some of my thoughts about the WTBA committee over this past year.
This was effectively a brand new committee with a new President, Treasurer and Secretary elected at last years AGM. There were also several new members. In my view we are representative of the wider community with an equal balance of female and male and of diverse ethnicities. Obviously we cannot have a representative from every ethnic community that attends the Monastery as there are just so many. However I would like to say that we do our best to stay in contact with all of our communities and I do encourage anyone to please come and talk to us if they have any issue about the monastery they would like to discuss.
I have to state that all the committee meetings have been particularly happy and harmonious. We have been able to work together in a way that is supportive of each other, discussing issues as they arise with the intention of achieving a clear consensus. The majority of decisions have been unanimous this year after much debate has taken place.
The President, Ajahn Kusalo, has worked tirelessly on many aspects of the Monastery, from the mundane everyday issues of maintenance of buildings and grounds right through to grappling with the technicalities of the constitution. At all times I have been impressed and inspired by his efforts, his commitment to Bodhinyanarama. His involvement from the November 2011 meeting till now means that he has worked hard for two years for us and I see the results in the stable Monastery we have today.
Our Treasurer, Su Mon has done a superb job in her first year of managing the finances
.As you know the committee members are all volunteers, but Su brings a truly professional approach to everything , always clearly and patiently explaining all aspects of the financial administration.
Tracy also joined a year ago, kindly offering to be Secretary. She has helped enormously in keeping the committee ship steady and organized .Her calm presence and clear thinking in the meetings are valued and mean we always receive excellent minutes as a record .
Thanks also to our Assistant Treasurer, Theja, for his support and advice to Su Mon throughout the year. We on the committee appreciate his guidance on a wide variety of issues and recognise his many years of dedication as lay supporter and committee member at Bodhinyanarama. There are of course very valuable contributions from all other committee members. Aru, in his second year on committee has been working closely with Ajahn Kusalo on constitutional issues .As a longtime lay supporter and with a sound knowledge of the history of the Monastery he is an ideal person for this. Ros has valiantly driven to our monthly meetings all the way from Palmerston North as a representative for all our supporters there ,many of whom have been involved with Bodhinyanarama since the beginning. During meetings Ros is a quick thinker and consequently makes us consider all aspects of matters that may arise. Janet Matehe is known and respected by many lay supporters. She is a local from the Hutt Valley and is therefore able to keep us in touch with local issues. Janet is a calm and thoughtful person which is an assett for our committee. Bounchanh Vanvilay an esteemed member of the Lao community is stepping down due to work commitments .The committee would like to thank Bounchanh for all his contributions and friendly manner in meetings. I would say that we will maintain contact with him and his community.
Finally I would like to acknowledge the untimely death of one of our members ,Roger Morton. Roger was a member of the WTBA for several years and a vocal contributor at the last two AGMs. As a former member of different committees he was able to offer our committee advice from time to time. He did a huge amount of work on the tracks and garden areas of the Monastery, and also offered to be the librarian. Roger is sadly missed by many of us but we are grateful for the time that we shared with him.
Anumodana to all.
(Theja moved to accept Presidents report, Janet sec)Treasurers Report
The Wellington Theravada Buddhist Association (WTBA) maintained another healthy financial year with a net income of $36,099 for the year ended 31 March 2013.
The commemoration garden project was completed at a cost of $23,548 and capitalised in the financial records. This project was funded by generous donations received from the Buddhist community.
The total income for the year was $130,142, an increase of $15,494 from that of the previous year mainly due to an increase in Sangha Welfare donations. Significant one-off donations received during the year were $7,362 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society in Malaysia and $9,811 from Paul Snelson in the UK.
A steady flow of donations was received during the year to meet the on-going expenses of the monastery. The total expenses excluding depreciation for the year was $61,966, an increase of $736 compared with the previous year. Most of the monastery expenses have reduced, but the increase in cost is mainly due to a $5,470 (33%) increase in insurance costs. This is driven by the increase in premiums as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes. The monastery is currently insured with Vero, which came out slightly cheaper and more reliable than other insurers based on a renewal report from Allfinanz Risk, our insurance broker. Discussions are still continuing with insurance providers to make sure the WTBA gets the best deal. A major one-off expense that was incurred during the year was the donation of Venerable Tiradhammo's accumulated funds to the Books for Cambodia Trust ($6,551) as requested by Venerable Tiradhammo. The depreciation charge for the year was $32,077, an increase of $451 from the previous year mainly due to the additional charge on the commemoration garden capitalised in 2013 year.
The value of term deposits increased by $37,660 from the previous year to $580,987 at 31 March 2013. This is due to the addition of a new term deposit for $25,000 and recognition of interest on four term deposits that matured during the year. The total of bank balances including cash on hand was a favorable balance of $67,972 at 31 March 2013.
The WTBA also agreed to move the financial system to Xero from MYOB effective from the next financial year. Xero is a well-known NZ based on-line accounting system that provides better reporting, ease of use, and 25% cheaper rates.
The collection of donations, banking, receipting function and cheque payments are still being carried out by other committee members and supporters of the monastery. The segregation of duties with effective controls has streamlined various accounting activities of the Association, and ensure consistency and continuity of finance related processes in order to comply with best accounting practices.
The annual financial statements for 31 March 13 was audited at a cost of $2,600. There were no accounting control deficiencies noted in the management letter.
I would like to thank the other committee members, the dana counters, receiptors, and all the supporters of the monastery for their on-going support of the monastery, and for helping me transition into my new role during the year. Special thanks to Savi and Theja for their support.
• Ajahn Kusalo expressed his appreciation and confidence in the treasurer, Su Mon's work.
• A query was asked about the receipting database by Sim Loo. Su clarified that the current system does not allow extra names to be added. The new accounting software- Xero does not include such a system, though Su is enquiring whether it could be added.
• Discussion held whether to buy more up to date hardware and software
• Ajahn Kusalo questioned whether receipts would better be done once a year at the end of the financial year.
• Su gave thanks to Viphavadee for her ongoing support
(Simon moved treasurer report be accepted, Savi sec)
Election of Committee
1 In the interest of time Ajahn suggested that the existing committee members be nominated as a group for re-election. No objections were forthcoming. (Ajahn Kusalo moved, Savi sec)
2 Sern-ty Lim was nominated as officer by Ajahn Kusalo and seconded by Simon.
3 Ajahn Kusalo expressed his appreciation for the current harmony on the committee. New Business
a. Agreement that Items 1 and 2 in existing constitution are combined to become Item 1. (See below)
b. Acceptance of new Item 2 into the Constitution (See below)
c. Change of name of Charities Commission to Department of Internal Affairs: Charities in Constitution
d. Discussion of Points in Principle. (See below)
The following bolded text was given as handouts to the attendees.
The following item is proposed as a new item to be added to the constitution.
To simplify document numbering, existing items 1&2 will be combined as item 1. and this new item will be added as item 2. and henceforth referred to as such.
Item 2. is derived from the Memorandum of Intent as agreed at the AGM on Sunday 29th July 2012.
The memorandum in turn evolved from the results of the public meeting on November 5th 2011. The memorandum points to two under-defined areas in the existing constitution. This shortfall is understandable considering that the constitution was written before the Sangha arrived.
These two areas are:
1) the pivotal role Sangha has played in the life of the monastery.
2) the relationship of WTBA, the Committee and the Sangha.
Item 2. The Society:-
a) The Society and Bodhinyanarama was established and is maintained by monks of the Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Sumedho Theravada Forest lineage that has its origins in Pah Pong Monastery, Thailand, Amaravati Monastery. England.
b) Whereas in law the Society's assets are held by, and under the sole control of, the Society, it is acknowledged that generally those assets have been acquired as a result of donations to, or inspired by, the Sangha (the order of monks) and given with the intention of supporting the Sangha.
c) The role of the Society is thus to steward the Society's assets on behalf of the Sangha. The elected committee members fulfill the role of a steward as outlined in the Vinaya (the Sangha's code of conduct; NP 10,18,19,20). The Sangha is not allowed to handle money, and donations made to the WTBA are thus directed to the committee.
d) The Society's powers are to be exercised with the consent of the monastery Abbot in discussion with the resident Sangha unless consultation with legal advisers and/or the Department of Internal Affairs: Charities shows that action is necessary in order for the Society to fulfill their legal obligations.
• Three legal consultants have been consulted re the wording of item 2.
• Ajahns Vajiro, Munindo, Sucitto, Viradhammo have also reviewed and offered input.
• After some minor wording changes the current committee has agreed on final draft.
Some discussion ensued regarding Item 2 details-
• Point B- comes from Harnham Monastery constitution and is offered as a statement of Intent.
• Jeremy questioned how binding point b is if, for example the society tried to sell the monastery for a dollar.
• Sim questioned the wording of Society as opposed to Association- referred to the Item 1 of constitution. Simon reminded that WTBA is an incorporated society.
• Ajahn Kusalo reminded the participants that Item 2 centres round the relationship between the donors, the committee and the monastic Sangha, and is not to be considered in isolation but within the context of the constitution. Other anomalies within constitution also to be discussed.
No objections arose to the adoption of Item 2.
Ajahn Kusalo moved it be accepted, Simon seconded.
Change of Address
To simplify document numbering for the inclusion of new item 2. (see the separate sheet provided), existing items 1&2 will be combined as item 1. The only change being the office address. The new item 1 to read:
1. THE name of the Society (hereinafter called the society) is "THE WELLINGTON THERAVADA BUDDHIST ASSOCIATION INCORPORATED" and its registered office is situated at 17 Rakau Grove, Lower Hutt, or such other places as may be decided at a General Meeting.
Registered address change- (Ajahn Kusalo moved, Tracy sec)
POINTS IN PRINCIPLE
Ajahn Kusalo advised that as the constitution is not set in stone and the text can be changed; it is worthwhile to regard it as a work in progress. Discussion of the following points will not affect the constitution directly at this time.
The following bolded text was given as handouts to the attendees. The text in capitals below each item indicates the outcome following the discussion of each point.
A large part of constitution discussion springs from the lack of consideration given to the Sangha. In the existing document there is no reference to Bodhinyanarama Monastery or Ajahn. Chah, etc. and there is only one reference to the Sangha (using the word 'monks') - item 3c). Item 2 addresses this shortfall in general. The points below address details, of both the Sangha and other items. Legal consultants have suggested that the constitution be reviewed on a regular basis; every 2-5 years. The existing constitution has not been changed since it was written in 1983 and there are many items that need to be reviewed. The following points are suggestions to be considered with a view to ratifying at the 2014 AGM.
NB. Constitution item numbering refers to the existing (1983) layout.
TO CONSIDER & DISCUSS:
1. Confirm: The registered office address be changed to: 17 Rakau Grove, Lower Hutt AGREED
2. Confirm: References to Charities Commission to be changed to: Department of Internal Affairs: Charities AGREED
POINTS IN PRINCIPLE:
Before establishing specific wording for insertion into the constitution can we first agree on points in principle.
a) Confirm: Membership fee @ $10 per year; April 30th-March 31st. Agreed at AGM 2012.
b) Confirm: The Spiritual Director/Abbot approves new WTBA members. Agreed at AGM 2012.
CHANGE WORDING FROM "ABBOT" TO "ABBOT IN CONSULTATION WITH SANGHA"
c) Committee min. 6 - [item 34. has no actual number stated.] & max. 10. item 36. has maximum 15
d) Committee quorum: item 47. "c'tee can determine... or 5" means nothing. Make it 5.
e) Committee President & Chairman is, by default, the Sangha elected Spiritual Director/Abbot. c'tee agreed, meeting of March 20th 2012. Endorsed, but not formally ratified at AGM 2012. The DOIA: Charities requires that "any person exercising significant influence over operations… should be appointed as a member of the management committee."
CHANGE WORDING- LEAVE OUT "CHAIRMAN" AS ANY COMMITTEE MEMBER CAN ACT AS CHAIRPERSON, CHAIRPERSON A FUNCTION NOT A ROLE.
f) The Abbot is appointed as an honorary committee member - as per 7d)
CHANGE: OMIT "COMMITTEE" TO READ "THE ABBOT IS APPOINTED AS AN HONORARY WTBA MEMBER"
g) Role-appointed officers (V.P., Sec., etc.) manage financial/contractual transactions on behalf of the President. eg. purchases and contracts. AGREED
THE INTENTION IS TO TAKE SANGHA OUT OF CONTRACTUAL ACTIVITIES. AGREED THAT "ROLE APPOINTED OFFICERS" IS AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION.
h) Proxy: item 29. Make proxy only valid for one specific meeting, or its adjourned version.
i) Our relationship to the Elders Council; see 45. below - c'tee agreed, meeting of March 20th 2012 NO CONSENSUS
j) item 7. "...open to any person *over the age of 16*" ... c'tee agreed, meeting of March 20th 2012 *made in writing*, ie. not orally. This provides a more accountable record and clearer process. New item. Insert after 6. WINDING UP... As Item 6a) ? DUE TO TIME CONSTRAINTS THIS POINT WAS NOT DISCUSSED
45. Disqualification or Removal: – NB. title change
Officers may be replaced in or removed from office at any time during their term of office by resolution of the Society in General Meeting.
If two-thirds of the committee agree that the Sangha as a whole, or individual monastic residents are not maintaining a suitable standard of Vinaya or insufficiently supporting the objects of the society they can consult with respected Elders of the Ajahn Chah tradition; notably, but not exclusively, the Abbots of Amaravati and Chithurst (UK), Abhayagiri and Tisarana (Nth US) and Vimutti (NZ). The Elders' Council is not a legal body and has no constitution or governing powers being a loosely affiliated group of senior monks and Monastery Abbots of the Ajahn Chah tradition who are collectively deemed worthy of consultation. In the event of the committee so agreeing they should seek advice from the Elders' Council.
If it is felt that committee members are not appropriately fulfilling their role as stewards of the Sangha or not maintaining the objects of the society the Abbot can disappoint such members.
If the elected Committee unanimously considers a Committee member to be grossly disruptive or divisive of committee procedures they have the power to remove him or her from the Committee.
NB: legal counsel has pointed out the difficulty in establishing mental instability
CHANGE TITLE TO "DISQUALIFICATION OR REMOVAL OF OFFICER"
CHANGE WORDING FROM ABBOT TO "ABBOT IN CONSULTATION WITH SANGHA"
AJAHN KUSALO POINTED THE FOLLOWING-
While it has no "legal teeth" the constitution offers recourse through a consultative process if a problem arises.
The meeting concluded at 5.15pm with a few minutes of