A network of clubs providing social interaction for retired people has ended up in a "naming mess" after Melbourne-based Probus South Pacific exercised its exclusive rights to the name Probus.

The former Otumoetai Men's Probus Club was in the process of changing its name to Rebus, a contraction of the words "retired" and "business".

Probus combined "professional" and "business".

Club past president Roly Hammond said there were 27 clubs between Omokoroa and Te Puke with many members coming from service clubs like Rotary and Lions.


Probus clubs had experienced "phenomenal growth" until there were now 460 clubs throughout New Zealand with total membership approaching 40,000.

Mr Hammond said the naming issues came to a head when the majority of New Zealand's Probus clubs voted to break away from Probus South Pacific and become autonomous.

Otumoetai club secretary Peter Kennerley said Probus South Pacific took Probus New Zealand to court last year on the use of the name "Probus" and won. The court overruled New Zealand's Registrar of Incorporated Societies' approval of the name Probus New Zealand.

He said Rotary New Zealand had years earlier sold the naming rights to the Australians, with Probus South Pacific consequently successfully arguing that only its affiliated clubs could use the name.