The Atafu Tokelau Community Group (ATCG) finance team held a 2-day workshop to upskill themselves on accounting software Xero, finalise accounts for the financial year and learn about the new compliance requirements for incorporated societies and charities.
The session, which was held near Masterton last weekend, was facilitated by ATCG Treasurer Afa Setu (picutred right) who said it was crucial that the volunatary finance team members fully understand how to navigate their way around the software - a key tool in ensuring the books of the organisation are well-maintained.
"The training was partly about streamlining some of the things that we are doing, so everybody understands what the expectation is, what the capabilities of the software are and what we can do," says Afa.
He says that it's important for community organisations like ATCG to have full transparency around the accounts, especially as it involves membership contributions and funding from key public and private sector organisations.
"It's probably one of the most important things for any organisation like ours, that we all have an understanding of what's going on financially and for community members to be happy," says Afa. "Being transparent, upfront and open is key."
"The members need to know what's going on to be assured that the management committee is running things prudently and we have to be accountable to the agencies we work with, as well as reassure members that we're planning well for the future."
The workshop also reviewed the new requirements that came into place for incorporated socities and charities.
The bill to replace the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 was signed into law on 5 April 2022 but societies have been given some time to comply with the new regulations, so while the bill has been enacted, many of its provisions will not take effect immediately.
For ATCG, having registered under the 1908 Incorporated Socities Act, the group:
will until October 2023 remain subject to the rules in the 1908 Act;
at some point in the period from October 2023 to around April 2026 (a period of about 2½ years), the group must re-register with the Companies Office;
once it re-registers will become subject to the rules in the 2022 Act;
must ensure it has appropriate Dispute Resolution processes - under the 2022 act, a society must have adequate dispute resolution procedures, and these must be specified in its constitution.
ATCG as a Charitiable organisation will also be required to:
review the way members join;
update the Constitution and rules accordingly;
consider the financial reporting requirements as a Tier 3 organisation;
re-register by April 2026.
ATCG President Les Tenise Atoni, who also attended the workshop, said it was crucial for the organisaton to be up to speed with all the regulatory changes and that the kaiga membership would be asked to ratify changes to its constitution to adhere to the new rules, in the coming months.
The Atafu Tokelau Community Group was officially registered as an Incorporated Society in 1981 and as a Charity in 2009.
Xero is a New Zealand–based technology company that provides cloud-based accounting software for small and medium-sized businesses and operations.