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SeniorNet Nelson History: 1992 to 2002




SeniorNet as an organisation originated in the USA in 1986, and was established in Wellington in 1992 with the support of Telecom New Zealand. This was the first learning centre to be set up outside North America.

In July 1992 a group of computer enthusiasts - including Colin Gunn from the Polytech Community Education section, Dorothy-Rose and Donald Pallesen, Pam and Graham Mansfield, Annette Curtis, Horace Basham, and Derek Woodhead - met with a view to establishing SeniorNet(Nelson) as the second branch in New Zealand.

With sponsorship from Telecom Corporation, and some equipment, a working committee was set up. Local organisations, businesses, and individuals, were canvassed for sponsorship, donations and help, but without much success. However, by the end of 1992 progress had been made and with a grant of $4000 from the New Zealand Lottery Board there was the possibility of rooms for the learning centre and progress on a constitution. Volunteers were sought to become tutors and these were initially trained by the committee in their own homes.

Early in 1993 an application was sent to the Registrar for Incorporated Societies, and the group became an incorporated society with the name SeniorNet(Nelson) Inc. At the meeting in the Nelson Public Library on 6 April 1993, 18 people were present and a detailed planning scheme was developed with a business plan to follow.

The first meeting of the SeniorNet(Nelson) committee in St John's Church Hall room, Hardy Street, was held on Wednesday 2 June 1993, with Dorothy-Rose Pallesen as Chairperson and all Committee members attending. Merv Turner was appointed as Vice Chairperson, and a list of 45 prospective members was drawn up. With meetings being held fortnightly at this stage, and finance a major concern it was arranged that Trust Bank Canterbury would provide an overdraft of $4,000 so long as eight names were provided, each being willing to guarantee $500. With this behind them the committee could purchase three computers and furniture to equip the Learning Centre, and send out invitations to prospective members, with $30 for single membership and $50 for married couples.

Finally they could set a date for the "opening" of the Learning Centre, and on 15 October 1993, with sponsorship from Telecom, there was the realisation of a dream.

It is interesting that the next few SeniorNet groups to form - including the original group from Wellington - had to seek permission from SeniorNet (Nelson) to have their name registered as an Incorporated Society, since Nelson was first to achieve this. So SeniorNet (Wellington) and all other groups defer to Nelson for the format of their name.

premises seniornet building

Early in 2002 new premises were leased from the Nelson Underwater Club in Pioneer Park, Hastings Street, Nelson. There was only one large downstairs area  so a new Learning Centre of 4m x 10m was created by a group of volunteers building a partition wall, leaving a sizeable meeting room with kitchen attached.