In the latter half of 2015, the Mens Probus Club of Hibiscus Coast became
concerned at the possibility that the rights to the use of the Probus name which
Clubs had been using for decades, might be lost as the result of legal steps being
undertaken by Probus South Pacific Ltd (PSPL). If successful, this
could mean that any Club not affiliated to PSPL would have to change its name.
With no wish to return to the dictatorial rule of a Governing Body, we sought a
name which might be suitable as a re-branding option for NZ Clubs should PSPL
be successful in its appeal to the High Court over the Registrar of Incorporated
Societies’ decision to allow Probus NZ Incorporated (PNZI) to use the word
“Probus” in its incorporated name.
Rebus, an abbreviation of Retired Business persons, seemed to meet that need. It
is similar to Probus, but not so close as to be misleading and likely to easily
obtain name recognition because it is largely unique in the NZ scene.
At that point, the Probus Club of Hibiscus Coast, as a PNZI affiliate approached PNZI with an offer to share the name which we had reserved over several months. We thought it may assist with any re-branding exercise should the legal issues come out in favour of PSPL. Our offer was declined.
Our concerns were confirmed when Justice Toogood, in the Auckland High Court
found in favour of PSPL and ordered that PNZI and seven other incorporated clubs which were also included in his judgement, should immediately remove the word Probus from their names. PSPL then made a cash offer to PNZI, equivalent to the Costs awarded against PNZI in the High Court hearing, in consideration of which, PNZI would withdraw the objection it had lodged at the Intellectual Property office. This objection was preventing PSPL from trade-marking the name
“Probus” which it had previously overlooked.
PNZI, now re-named Fellowship NZ Incorporated (FNZI), without reference to its
affiliated Clubs accepted PSPL’s offer and withdrew its objection. With this
obstacle removed, PSPL were then able to immediately gain approval from the
Intellectual Property Office for the registration of the rights to the Probus name
on the 4th December 2015.
There will continue to be vigorous debate over the circumstances by which FNZI
capitulated and provided PSPL with the means by which all Probus Clubs in NZ,
except those affiliated to PSPL, would cease to be a Probus Club. FNZI will
continue to face censure from its own affiliates with many expressing their
disappointment with the standard of governance exhibited by the Council.
Rebus was incorporated on the 7th December 2015 and had as its 15 founders,
Past Presidents, Life members and current committee members of the Probus
Club of Hibiscus Coast.
Murray Dunbar who is the Immediate Past President 2016/7 of Aotea Combined
(Christchurch) was, until his resignation in January 2016, the latest Administrator
for FNZI. He has since been joined by Russell Tether the elected FNZI Councillor
for District 9940 who was illegally dismissed from the Council in late 2015. Both
these men bring to the Rebus board, their ongoing enthusiasm to see an
independent Service Centre for NZ Clubs which is free from any time consuming
political interference in Club affairs.
Graeme McIntosh, the Chairman of Rebus, was also a member of the original
Steering Committee and was the Administrator overseeing the transfer of some
273 plus Clubs away from PSPL to the new fledgling Probus NZ Inc. He remained
in this position until responsibility for the database and administrative functions
were transferred to Christchurch at the end of 2014 where they came under the
control of the then PNZI Chairman. Graeme is a Past President of his Club (2008
and 2011) and is a Life Member.