The beginnings of the Canterbury Association (now Branch), remain shrouded in mystery as no account of that can be found although Canterbury is in the original constitution so therefore in existence by 1923.
This Canterbury Branch history touches on the past as covered in two previous publications, to give context to the present. The beginnings of the Canterbury Association (now Branch), remain shrouded in mystery as no account of that can be found although Canterbury is in the original constitution so therefore in existence by 1923. Covering an extensive geographical area from east to west coasts in the centre of the South Island, membership in 1970 was between 50 and 60. The Association was respected for its activities at a national level including arrangement of the first Dominion Conference in 1927, when the President and Vice-President were Canterbury based.
Present day membership has been consistently over 400 in recent years (2008- 2012) peaking at 447 in 2010. Since formation of the Branch, strong emphasis has always been placed on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Standards of Practice, with those activities dominating the Branch meeting calendar throughout the years. Hosting the national conference has continued at regular intervals most recently in 2004, although the 1992 conference remains etched in our memories, being disrupted by a major snowfall with power outages and venue issues but “the show went on” albeit in a condensed timeframe!
Due to the foresight of earlier members, an educational trust (the Canterbury Physiotherapy Charitable Trust) has operated in the region since its establishment in late 1983 for members to access as individuals or to bring a speaker to the area. An additional educational fund, the Jean Erwin Fund was legally combined with the Charitable Trust ten years later, in 1993. Five trustees representing the Branch administer that fund and consider awards on an annual basis. The emphasis is increasingly on recipients with research interests and skills, thus with the potential to educate the wider profession.
In line with most other Branches, the Canterbury Branch transferred the administration of its financial affairs to the National Office in 2011/2012. Importantly, decision-making on financial affairs remains with Branch officials.
Attracting members from throughout the widespread Canterbury region to Branch meetings and seminars held in Christchurch, has been problematic. In order to facilitate access to professional development, more distant areas such as South Canterbury have now developed CPD activities locally.
The earthquakes of 2010 and especially 2011, severely tested the fortitude, innovation and problem-solving for which physiotherapists are known, of many if not the majority of members in the Christchurch area. The whole physiotherapy community of our country rallied and reached out to their Canterbury colleagues in multiple ways. Physiotherapy New Zealand recognised the impact on members by appointing an Earthquake Liaison Officer for 12 months to assist with personal and professional matters.
Homes and businesses were lost yet practitioners strove from the start to first meet the needs of their patients, while coping with personal loss of a magnitude not seen before in a New Zealand city. Their remarkable bravery and efforts are indeed part of the Canterbury Branch history and a fitting note on which to conclude its proud progress.
On behalf of the Canterbury Branch
Physiotherapy New Zealand
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