Saturday, October 28, 2017


I'm a inactive member of the Russell RSA mainly because of distance.   Here in Paihia we have a very well supported and successful Ex-Serviceman's Club but it's not affiliated with the RNZR&SA.   How that came about is another story.

Last week I received an e-mail from the RSA National Office advising that the Board and the Executive were withdrawing a raft of proposed constitutional changes due to be debated at the National Council Meeting next month in the face of threatened legal action by the Auckland District RSA.   The National Council is the supreme decision making body of the RNZR&SA and comprises delegates from all RSAs.

The action by the Auckland District RSA is effectively a vote of 'no confidence' in both the Board and the Executive.   One has to wonder 'where to now' for the organisation.

The RNZR&SA is but a shell of what it was twenty/thirty years ago.    Many RSA's have closed including some large city ones.    Many others are struggling including my 'home' RSA.   The reasons are myriad and complex. 

For many years the RNZR&SA was the prime advocate to government on matters of concern to the veteran community.   That is no longer the case with the establishment of the Veteran's Advisory Board.   The RNZR&SA is not represented on that Board as of right.   Currently the President of RNZR&SA is a member of the Board but only in his private capacity.

The organisation appears to be turning on itself.   Sad that it has come to this.   I have genuine fears for its long term future.


Noel said...

"The reasons are myriad and complex."
In a nutshell they are not attractive to a potential younger associate member.
Saw a result of that in my previous area. Who would have thought the Pukekohe RSA would fold.

I did offer a proposal to Wellington that could be explored by RSAs and other service clubs with cost spread across all clubs in New Zealand to get younger bums at the bar for at least one night but got no response.

I'm fortunate my new RSA will be around for many years to come. Could be the last one standing.

Noel said...

Should have added it may not have a representative on the Veteran's Advisory Board but it does have one where it matters on the Veterans Review Appeal Board.

Seabird said...

The Marlborough area seem to have it right with the amalgamation of a number of Clubs inc RSA into a one complex one committee organisation with RSA as a part but also they have a separate room and committee.

My Dad, who was a returned soldier from WWII made comment years ago that when the last of the old blokes die, they should close the RSA down, but I guess there are now vets from other conflicts to consider. But these ex service-people need to support the organisation, and if they don't then let it die.
ANZAC services and commemorations can still be held without the RSA.

The Veteran said...

Seabird ... Clubs Marborough hosted the V3 Coy reunion earlier this year. They seem to have gotten the mix right with the RSA, a separate entity, but a constituent part of the Club which is flourishing. That may be the way forward. The 'old' model ain't working.

Anonymous said...

Short of sending a division of soldiers overseas for a quick war there is very little you can do. In 1955 approx 10% of the NZ population could be classed as returned.

Today it is probably around 0.3%. To have an organisation that caters for this number is certainly not cost effective. The other problem is that returned servicemen of today have not seen the action that previous generations have seen and are not attracted and have no need of the clubs as we did. It is far too late to follow the example of the Australian RSL's which are gambling clubs and are a part of the establishment.

My suggestion is that the word Returned is dropped and be called the Combined services clubs or something like that. The word "Returned" promotes an image of exclusivity that is undeserved in 2017. Secondly those with a decent turnover should hire professional hospitality managers with a free hand to organise menus, decor and entertainment in order to attract the public and turn a profit.

Lord Egbut

Lord Egbut

Noel said...

Our RSA has over 3000 members with the majority been associates.No need to remove Returned as every member prospects the reading of the Ode and silence at 6pm.

Noel said...

Ahhh should be respects.

Anonymous said...

Noel.....I should have been more concise. Like the way the Bundaberg RSL has been transformed by opening it up to the general public with excellent food, entertainment etc. A part of the deal was the Veterans (what's left) had their own bar around the back which was membership and guests only and the ode could be read. During my period there it remained largely empty with the main bar area being full during weekday evenings. Those areas that have combined the old workingmans clubs with RSAs seem to be doing alright but it would be very revealing to look at turnover in various areas as the whole concept was to make money for veterans causes. We are now living in a multi cultural society and those RSAs in in the bigger towns and cities have to up their game in order to survive.

I only have to look at the Dunedin RSA which went belly up in the 1990's. Mismanaged and dismal decor. Beautiful building prime real estate sold for song but could have been so easily turned around but for apathy and a death wish by the old soldiers who ran it.

Lord Egbut

George said...

When I and my brother went to join the RSA at different times and places it was a bunch of old farts who thought their service more valuable than ours.
I'm exnavy and my brother went to Malaya.
Brother in law was in 1616 Bat
When he went to Hastings the old wank on the door told him to take his Dad's RSA badge back to him.
It's different now.
Went into hospital for a procedure last year and the RSA were very attentive...

Anonymous said...

I wish to clarify a few points.

It was the Auckland RSA not the Auckland Combined District RSAs. Although I suspect the District RSAs in Auckland support the move.

The injuctive relief would have been over Remit 1 and did not relate to any other remits.

Remit 1 sought to introduce a new constitution for RNZRSA by reference to a document external to the remit i.e. the remit did not contain any substantive provisions. This proposed method of rule changing is in breach of the RNZRSA rule changing powers. It amounted to a 'blank cheque' to the Board.

The draft constitution and proposed bylaws had not been submitted 7 weeks prior to National Council (1 - 2 Nov) to the Chief Executive. The proposed By-Laws which would be the sole province of the Board and which contain about half of the current constitution were only available on 13 October.

RNZRSA were in effect breaching their own rules. Putting the organisation at risk of a later legal challange and uncertainity.

The nett effect of the draft constitution is to turn a 'bottoms-up' organisation into a 'top-down one' So it substantially shifts power to the vertually self appointing Board at the expense of the National Council (which is acually supposed to hold the Board accountable).

Nothing in the new constitution helps address the decline of the RSA movement and the loss of veterans funds in uneconomic bar operations. Argubly it makes it worse: the rules would be far more complex and accountability lines blurred and they would be harder to charge. Holding the Board accountability for rising Head Office costs would be all but impossible.

Where RNZRSA should probably been adopting a flatter simpler organisation model the Board are proposing a far more complex one with the power relationships between what would be four committees (up from the current three) very poorly defined.