Into the future

Over the past couple of years, some big decisions have been made and undertaken by the (previously) Ashburton Licensing Trust (ALT), the most obvious change being a change to the BRAIDED RIVERS COMMUNITY TRUST (BRCT). So, what’s behind the new entity and what other changes are happening?  Braided Rivers Community Trust shares their new focus and new constitution with Spirit Magazine.                   words: Judy McAuliffe images: supplied

Like all Licensing Trusts around New Zealand, the ALT was born out of the Prohibition era, to oversee the sale of alcohol and provision of hospitality, whilst streaming any profits back to the community. Over the last 70 years, ALT has supported our community with millions of dollars’ worth of grants and donations to sports, art, culture, amenities, education, health and community organisations.

But the pressure to change to a more community supportive, future-facing stance had been building for years. Many locals will remember the result of the 2004 community vote which allowed local supermarkets to sell beer and wine.  As a consequence of that, the Trust can own and trade in businesses outside its geographical boundaries.


To fully achieve a purpose of helping people, the decision was made to re-focus away from the selling of alcohol, to investing for the benefit of the community. In 2016, the move to sell most of its hospitality venues to becoming a landlord at these sites began, thereby providing an ongoing lower risk-higher return model for our community.

  • April 2016 The Somerset Grocer was sold.
  • May 2016 Speights Alehouse sold
  • November 2016 Hotel Ashburton sold
  • September 2017 Tinwald Tavern Complex sold. 

Work was then undertaken to look at how the ALT would continue to operate into the future, investment and granting policies were adopted taking a long term, 100-year horizon.


With the primary income streams changing to property rental and investment rather than hospitality, the Trust no longer fitted comfortably within the Licensing Trust model, so it was decided to reconstitute as a Community Trust. In the words of General Manager, Robert Reid, “BRCT no longer has to sell liquor to exist, however it is an option. We can also own and trade in businesses outside our geographical boundaries. It’s all focused on property investments.”


BRCT has adopted a Trust Deed which reflects most of the rights and obligations applicable as a Licensing Trust. Community ownership, control, public election process, geographic boundaries, audit and public accountability obligations remain unchanged. The new name and entity better reflect the renewed position in the community and the work the Trust currently undertakes in the community.


A new granting policy, adopted in 2018, has resulted in grants to a broad range of community organisations. The initial five-year transition period which restricted grants to $100k per year until March 2023 is drawing closer, so the granting pool will soon increase significantly.

BRCT’s relationship with the Lion Foundation will remain unchanged, with the regional grants committee continuing to operate and allocate gaming machine proceeds in the same manner.

“The world of work is changing fast, but we have placed ourselves well to operate into the future. Our new logo is a progression from the old and represents our place in the Mid Canterbury community,” Rob says.


Maxine Hooper, Acting President and Senior Coach of Riding for Disabled: The Trust, in both its previous and current entity, has been a long-term supporter of RDA, providing funding for our tack shed, hay shed, winter jackets – whatever we’ve needed. Over the years close to 4000 local riders have benefitted from this support.

Maxine is also Manager of For Senior Citizens Association:  The Trust have always been a huge support to our Senior Citizens, providing funding for wages that allows us to focus on what’s important – home visits, activities and outings, picnics in the KFC van – all the things that ensure our oldies are active and cared for.

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.