This week's Rotorua Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting has authorised a new election system under which board members will now decide the chamber presidency rather than the membership at large.

The remit was passed by a majority of the members at Thursday evening's AGM.

The attendance, which met quorum requirements of at least 20 voting members, was a small part of the 565 total membership. But chamber chief executive Darrin Walsh said the change had been well-advertised in advance.

"Each and every one of our members saw the remits that were proposed and had an opportunity to be at the AGM," he said.


"If they felt it was something they really wanted to have a say about, they should have been there."

Four sitting members were returned to the board, with three new members elected and three co-opted. Current president Kathy Hawker will stand down at next month's board meeting, but will remain an ex officio member of the board.

A new president will be selected from within the current board, but it was not known yet who would be putting their names forward for the role.

Ms Hawker, who served a total of six years on the board, the past two years as president, said the remit for change was put forward when she was on leave in May.

"I really have no idea why they wanted to change the system," she said.

"I don't understand the rationale or why they felt the need to do that."

Mr Walsh said the change had in part been the result of the need to examine reducing the costs associated with the presidency election process.

"I would certainly like to thank Kathy for her two years as president and the support she's given me in getting into the role of chief executive."


Mr Walsh became chief executive in July last year after the post had been vacant for seven months as a result of the employment dispute between the chamber and his predecessor Roger Gordon, which saw membership and sponsorship fall.

"How we elect the chamber president is a storm in a teacup," said Mr Walsh.

"The major issue we face is improving our finances."

The chamber has been in the red for two years running, with the year ending March 2015 showing the chamber had negative equity and an operational loss of $32,000.

"But on the opposite side, there are strategies in place we are working to, and we've got four new sponsors on board and membership is picking up," he said.

"This time next year it will be a different story. Obviously we've had some issues. But we're now doing some really good stuff. For me it was always going to be a two-year task to turn the chamber around.

"The most important thing to come out of the AGM is that people should be going away and talking about how to get in behind us."