In the latest exhibition at the NZ Academy of Fine Arts gallery on Queens Wharf visiting artist Donna... Read More
Many personalities and characters make up the RSA community. From returned and ex-services, to wives, children, club patrons, support services, and an army of practical, kind, generous, loyal and civic minded volunteers. All play a vital role. Many have colourful and inspiring stories to tell.
Pat Duggan QSM JP
Returned serviceman and District President
My RSA experience has been fulfilling, enjoyable and satisfying.
My Dad was a returned man and fiercely proud of his RSA membership. He insisted I join when I returned from my first tour of duty in Vietnam - not that I needed too much pushing in that direction! I recall the very day I was given my badge, I was so chuffed - walking down the road in central Christchurch proudly wearing my new badge, and hoping the whole world could see I was a “Returned Man”, at the time the youngest one in Christchurch. I was 20 years old and a war veteran.
I have been involved with the RSA at executive level since the eighties, beginning with my local Christchurch RSA, and leading up to my current role as Canterbury District President – a position I am honoured to have been elected to. The experiences I have gathered from my various roles in the RSA have stood me in good stead in life. Those skills also flow over to my employment at Academy New Zealand Christchurch.
I am quite passionate about my RSA involvement. I always have been and I always will be. Some people can find it hard believing I am so passionate about it, but hey – that’s life. I enjoy the work I do and I enjoy being able to help others – that is what the RSA is all about.
The lifelong friendships I have made are the most rewarding thing about being a member. Most of my friends are veterans of wars and conflicts, and are members too.
I am a family man having been married to Elly for 44 years. We have a grown up family with arguably the best children and best grandchildren in the world – but I don’t like sitting around doing nothing.
My hobbies include lead lighting, painting, drawing, cooking, sculpting, gardening, and writing. One of my published books is the story of my involvement in the Vietnam War, called “What Have They Done to the Rain”. It covers my two tours of duty with 161 Battery Royal New Zealand Artillery in South Vietnam. It’s a bloody good read! I am presently working on a cookbook with a difference – “Fire In The Hole”, featuring arguably the best hot sauces, and chilli & curry dishes and in the world.
Her Majesty the Queen saw fit to honour me in the 2008 New Year’s list with the award of a QSM for my service to the RSA. Not at all bad for a kid who dropped out of school at 15 to join the Army, and who never even sat his School Certificate. I chose to be a soldier instead, a decision that I don’t regret to this day.
I am often asked the question – “Would you do it all again?”. My usual answer is “In a heartbeat”.
Associate Member and Support Advisor (retired)
My RSA is about people helping people.
I married into the RSA over twenty years ago. My husband, a retired WW2 Bomber Pilot, was the Northland District President, and shortly after our marriage I became Support Advisor for Whangarei RSA.
The same year I was also appointed Northland District Support Advisor. I was able to use skills gained from my previous work in social welfare to aid members (and non-members) to get their financial entitlements, access funds in New Zealand & overseas, and to assist with other practical needs.
One case I remember is of a veteran who had been refused a War Disablement pension. I believed he had been unfairly treated, and successfully advocated on his behalf to the Ombudsman. The veteran and his wife received their full financial entitlements, greatly improving their quality of life for their remaining years. I still get enormous pleasure when recipients of the surviving spouse pension comment that they think of me each time they see the pension details on their bank statements!
As part of my local RSA family, I have held office in the Womens’ Section (Treasurer, President), been on the executive, represented the RSA on several committees – most recently the Positive Ageing Advisory Group. I have been awarded Life Membership of Whangarei RSA, Honorary Membership of Russell RSA, awarded the Royal New Zealand RSA Merit Badge and Gold Star, and a 20 years Long Service award from Northland RSA District. I was also a member of the National Support committee from its inception until my retirement.
I have enjoyed getting to know so many interesting people in the RSA and the wider community that I might not otherwise have done. Many of our friends are RSA members.
I still live in Whangarei, with my husband and our dog Bonnie. I am enjoying retired life – I’m a trustee of the Whangarei RSA Trust, chair the Northland District RSA Welfare Trust, am a committee member for Abbeyfield Whangarei, on the Whangarei RSA’s Disciplinary and Futures committees, am a Justice of the Peace, and sit on the steering group for the Whangarei Seniors’ Expo. I also read, do crosswords, walk almost every day, and make a lot of jam – which I sell at the RSA with all proceeds going to the RSA Support fund. Plus I accompany Bonnie when she visits rest homes as a Canine Friends Pet Therapist!
Hmmm, did I say I was retired?
Youth Member and Speech Competition winner
For me, the RSA is about family, community, and country.
I’ve been an RSA member since April 2011, after winning The National Bank RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition. I based my speech on the return of the Unknown Warrior to New Zealand, and what that meant for ordinary people – especially my nana, Elizabeth Koorey, whose brother Pat was killed at Casino during World War II.
As winner of the competition, I travelled to Gallipoli as the New Zealand Youth Representative. My experience in Gallipoli was one that could not be repeated, with the honour of laying wreaths at the Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Memorial, and Chunuk Bair Services – where I also recited the Ode for New Zealand.
One of the most moving things I encountered was a memorial on the Gallipoli coastline, with a message to the mothers of New Zealand and Australia, from the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Ataturk – “After having lost their lives on our land, they have become our sons as well”. Though I followed these sons on their journey to Gallipoli, at least my mother knew I was coming home.
Since returning from Turkey, I’ve spoken at local RSAs (and other organizations), which has been a great way to give back to the community which supported me. The RSA takes a genuine interest in people, and I have always felt valued and well looked-after.
Through the RSA I have felt more connected with the past. It is so important, as it validates the sacrifices of previous generations. It has also given me a more focused direction for the future. There is no morbid fascination with the casualties of war but an awareness of their legacy, which leads to healthy communities that can appreciate the past, to better consider the present
I like being among other cultures and hearing different languages. The trip to Turkey helped me to conceptualise how I could continue to work in co-operation with other cultures, and it consolidated my desire to do so in the future.
Associate Member and Secretary/Manager
To me, the RSA is tons of fun! I joined Paraparumu RSA about 16 years ago, mostly at Dad’s insistence. While I grew up mainly in Auckland, I used to visit Dad a few times a year and a stopover at his RSA was always on the agenda! It was a very lively social place and although I had to endure endless taunts about being Just Another Flippin’ Aucklander, I got to meet some great people and had a lot of fun. My Mum & Stepfather have also belonged to RSAs for as long as I can remember
In Auckland, I’ve been a member of Henderson RSA for the past 2 years. I initially worked as maternity cover, but about 3 weeks before my contract was up the Secretary Manager resigned. I applied for the job and the rest, as they say, is history!
This is the first time I have worked in hospitality, although I have a strong customer service background. I’m a people person, I love my job, and I am passionate about our club’s success. This is a club that my parents have been very proud to call themselves members of, and I strive hard to honour that pride.
The most rewarding thing about being a member is without a doubt the people I have met. I get to be part of their lives on a daily basis and it is an absolute privilege. Quite a few of our friends are members, but there are still more to convince.
I’ve been married to Karl for 15 years and have one son, James who is 3. Working fulltime and being a wife and mother easily fills my day. Whether it is financial planning for the RSA, playing with James, or cooking a family meal there is always something going on!!
There’s definitely more than meets the eye to the RSA! As well as the amazing value both in the restaurant and at the bar, it is a great place to watch some sport, participate in club events, and relax with friends.
President, Sumner Redcliffs RSA
My husband and I have been members since 1986. We were new to Sumner and we joined the RSA to meet new people. The majority of our friends are people we originally met at the club.
I was on our executive committee for a number of years, where I got to understand more about how our RSA worked. I was also raffle convener and entertainment officer. I have been President since 2010.
With help from some wonderful volunteers I arranged our monthly "Tea Dance" for elderly citizens from rest homes throughout Christchurch. On the first Thursday of every month they were treated to live entertainment, raffles and afternoon tea. It was a most enjoyable afternoon that I personally got so much pleasure from.
That was until February 22nd 2011, when our RSA was destroyed by the earthquake.
Since the then, there is no venue to continue the Tea Dance.
Every Thursday night we stood outside our munted RSA. I recited the ODE to the fallen to those members who were brave enough to withstand the elements.
We now have a weekly club night again, held every Thursday at the Thirsty Mariner in Sumner.
I was lucky enough to receive an award for my part in keeping our RSA going. It was presented by the Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker on the first anniversary of earthquake, after the memorial service in Hagley Park.
My experience being involved in RSA has taught me to be more patient and understanding towards my peers. I am extremely passionate and determined to continue to have an RSA in Sumner.