COLVILLE CO-OP SINCE 1978
Colville Cooperative Society Ltd
Since the early settlers in the 1860’s, many people have been attracted to the northern Coromandel Peninsula by its beauty, peacefulness and the opportunity to live a less stressful life. With its numerous idyllic seaside bays and beaches, its winding roads and rugged landscape with vast open spaces, it really is a place to go to get away from it all. The unspoilt native forest houses many rare species of native birds including Kaka and Brown Kiwis, and some of the flowers and plants on the upper reaches of Mt Moehau are unique to the area. Twenty eight kilometres north of Coromandel town is Colville, a small rural village consisting of the peninsula’s most northern store, café and post office. It is also the last stop to buy petrol and supplies if you are heading north. The store is an essential focal point of Colville life and a mirror to its well-being. The store stocks various goods ranging from bulk food, hardware, clothing, and some locally grown produce and gifts made from the community.
The Structure of the Society:
Colville Cooperative Society Ltd is incorporated as an Industrial and Provident Society and is the owner of the buildings at 2314 Colville Rd, which houses the businesses of the Colville General Store Ltd and the Colville Cafe. The Cooperative Society is owned by the members of the society, effectively an open Society that any local person may join and contribute to. The societies register is made up of several hundred people. At the AGM of the Society, a Committee of Management is elected to oversee the governance of the Society on behalf of its members. Its primary role is to maintain the Aims and Objectives of the Society and the rules imposed from past AGMs. Historically, this committee has overseen and maintained the buildings. Further, it initiates and participates in and supports any community activities deemed worthy of support. The CCS has a Chairperson, Treasurer, Secretary and a committee with the option of sub committee if required. These are all volunteers.
Who are we?
A long roster of local people past and present, dozens who still have active membership, and hundreds over the decades. The Society is open to anyone who agrees with the Aims and Objectives and pay a $1.00 fee. This gives a voice and input at AGMs and local meetings. The preference has been for employees to be part of the Society. The belief in the value of its open cooperative nature has remained over the decades, through many issues and times, now second generation members are a part of the structure and businesses. The businesses have to be financially viable, even in an area of low population and low average incomes, but the aim has always been as a service to the community more than maximum profit making.
It bought then maintained its own fuel supplies in face of declining original corporate supplier interest. When possible, extra profits have aided community activities. The Society has been an initiator and an umbrella support to social groups such as past youth groups, tennis club and the Colville Social Services Collective (CSSC), which now stands as its own self-supporting organisation. The jobs, and their deliberate work experience for younger staff in both the Store and Cafe, have been an essential part of the Society’s rason d’etre. They provide both a financial livelihood and social interaction.
The essential nature of the Cooperative’s ventures to the wider Colville community, the northern campgrounds and both local and tourist activities is shown by statements made by several people over the years to the effect even more than the school, without the Society and the General Store Colville town would die. While financial life in the northern Coromandel is not easy there is a potential future economic development of eco-tourism based around Te Moehau that Colville and its store is a key part of.