FAQs

Please email info@harbourcoop.co.nz if you have a question that could be added to this page.

Do I have to live in Lyttelton to join?

No, anyone who shops or intends to shop at the Harbour Co-op can join. From the current pre-registrations, it looks as if about half of the interest is from people living in Lyttelton, about a quarter from people living elsewhere in the harbour, and a quarter from people living in Christchurch. The most distant member lives in Timaru.

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Can I still shop at the Harbour Coop even if I don’t become a member?

Yes – everyone is welcome!

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Can I still attend workshops even if I don’t become a member?

Yes. Depending on the workshop, members may attend for free or at a discounted price, but non-members will also be able to attend.

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Can I share my membership with my partner or family?

Yes, provided you live at the same address. If you purchase a “Household Share”, you can specify an additional person who lives at the same address as you, to be a joint shareholder. As the primary shareholder, will be the one who can vote at shareholder meetings, but if you want your joint shareholder to vote in your place, you will be able to appoint them as your “proxy”. Both you and your joint shareholder can use your membership card at the shop, and if you have any children living with you, they can also use your membership card at the shop.

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I can’t afford to pay the entire share price up front. How can I join?

We offer up to 5% of members the option of paying off their Household share over a year: an initial payment of $35 on application, followed by 11 monthly instalments of $30.

Because we can only offer this financial assistance to a very limited number of people, we ask that you don’t apply for financial assistance unless you really cannot join in any other way. If the number of people requiring financial assistance is in excess of the 5%, we may need to operate a waiting list; in that case, you would have to wait until more fully paid shares had been issued before we could sign you up to pay by instalments.

We are severely restricted by the Companies Act, with regards to offering financial assistance (you can read more about this here), but if you do need help, let us know and we will see what we can do.

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Can I invest more?

Yes. While you can only purchase 1 Household Share, you can optionally purchase additional “Supporting Shares”. Each Supporting Share costs $1, with a minimum purchase of 500 shares. You must hold your Supporting Shares for at least 2 years before you can redeem them.

If you have Supporting Shares, you will be paid a fixed dividend of 2% of the value of those shares, on an annual basis, provided that the Co-op has a profit that is adequate to cover the distribution. The payment of the distribution is not guaranteed, as the Co-op can only make a distribution if it is able to satisfy the Solvency Test, as defined in the Companies Act 1993, immediately after making the distribution. This means that the Co-op can only make a distribution, if, after doing so, it is still able to pay its debts as they become due in the normal course of business, and the value of the Co-op’s assets is greater than the value of its liabilities, including contingent liabilities.

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Will I always have to take my membership card to the shop?

No, though new members find it easier in the beginning. When you make a purchase, quote your membership number and we'll record the sale under your membership number.

It is important that you let us know your membership number, or show your card, every time you purchase something at the Co-op, so that you can receive any applicable member-only discount on the things that you are purchasing, and because we need to record the total value of your purchases for the year. In years in which the board decides to give a rebate to shareholders, the value of your rebate will depend on the total amount you have transacted with the Co-op in the preceding year. (The board does not expect to be able to offer any rebates in the first 2 years of business, as it is important that we fully pay off the purchase of the Lyttel Piko business and build up some cash reserves first).

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Is the Harbour Co-op just for food?

We sell primarily food, but we also carry seeds, shampoo, personal care items, cleaning supplies, and so on. There is always the possibility that the range of goods and services offered could expand in the future, as we discover more needs in our community. It will be up to us, as members, to decide what we need our Co-op to provide, and whether any profits from the business are invested in creating the products and services that we need.

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Will the Harbour Co-op sell meat?

Initially the Harbour Co-op will not sell meat, and it will not start to sell meat without consulting with the Co-op members first. It is a decision we will all make together.

The shop has had a tradition as a vegetarian store, and there are some customers who are opposed to being part-owners of a shop that sells meat. On the other hand, there are other customers who currently have to go to other shops to buy their organic, free range meat who would greatly prefer to purchase this locally at the co-op.

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Is there any obligation to pay any additional money each year?

There is no obligation to pay any additional fee each year. That said, to legally remain a cooperative company shareholder, you will need to have at least one transaction with the co-op each year.

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As a member am I legally bound for costs in any way should things not perform as well as expectations?

As a shareholder, you would not be legally bound for any costs if there were any problems with the business. If you were to become a board member at some stage, then you would be personally legally liable for a range of possible infringements, but as a shareholder there is no risk of that. As a shareholder, the only financial risk you could have, if the business did fail, or was performing badly, is that you may not be able to get the price you originally paid for your share refunded. But you wouldn’t have to pay out any additional amounts.

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2 responses to “FAQ”

  1. Brie Sherow March 20, 2012 at 3:32 am

    This is a great idea, excited about becoming a member. My vote is to carry meat in the store, but I understand the need to put it past everyone. Reasons being – as a Lyttelton resident who works long daytime hours in Middleton and doesn’t have a car, it’s hard enough to get groceries as it is. Anytime I go out of my way to get groceries in a different location its a day trip. Also I’m finding it difficult to get good quality organic meat here in Chch in comparison to the town I just moved here from, it would be lovely to have some quality cuts in Lyttelton more regularly than the farmers market.

  2. Les Linklater May 19, 2012 at 7:11 am

    I would like to become a shareholder and would be willing to contribute some hours a week as a volunteer. However I would not be keen if meat was housed with health foods. Certainly the co-op could be involved in meat sales for those interested but not on the same sight. To me it would not be the same, ‘good peaceful’ place to spend time. I have had small businesses myself and consider the undeclared spiritual ambience a vital part of customers ‘feel good’ experience.