Porirua RSA widens age group

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

While RSAs are strug­gling to stay open in New Zealand, Porirua RSA is thriv­ing and at­tract­ing a new gen­er­a­tion.

It’s 11am on a Wed­nes­day and 13 men are catch­ing up over a beer at Porirua RSA.

Pres­i­dent Roger Kings­ford said busi­ness was bet­ter than it had been in a long time.

A few years ago the Porirua RSA was strug­gling like many of its coun­ter­parts.

Now the mem­ber­ship is more than 700 and the or­gan­i­sa­tion is turn­ing a profit.

What stopped the club from clos­ing or merg­ing was a change in think­ing, Kings­ford said.

The RSA started run­ning more like a busi­ness and worked on at­tract­ing the younger gen­er­a­tion.

Fire­fighter Josh McAlpine, 28, is one of the younger mem­bers.

He joined five years ago and said it was the place he went for a drink and a catch-up.

‘‘This is more lo­cal and there’s never any trou­ble here. There are a lot of old guys, which is awe­some, but there are plenty of young people too,’’ he said.

‘‘You’d think the RSA was an old people’s club, but it’s not.’’

The club’s mem­ber­ship sta­tis­tics re­flect the chang­ing times.

Kings­ford said 75 per cent of mem­bers were as­so­ciate mem­bers who had not been a part of the armed ser­vices.

‘‘It shows you that many who have never been in the ser­vices are join­ing. Ev­ery­one has prob­a­bly known some­one who has been in the ser­vices. An RSA is so safe and has the his­tory,’’ Kings­ford said.

But, with all the changes it was still im­por­tant to re­mem­ber why the RSA ex­isted, he said.

‘‘It has the his­tory and we have to make sure we don’t lose our way.

‘‘It is still an RSA and we are here for re­turned ser­vice­man. But, the back of­fice has to be run as a busi­ness.’’

Kings­ford said the older mem­bers of­ten re­minded him of the hey­days of the club.

‘‘You talk to the old guys and this place used to be shoul­der to shoul­der. It’s not like the old days, but we are still do­ing al­right.’’

Kings­ford said on week­ends the room was full of people of all ages.

Lower Hutt RSA merged with the Pe­tone Work­ing Men’s Club last year.

Wainuiomata RSA closed its clu­b­rooms last year af­ter it went into re­ceiver­ship be­cause of high debt.

John­sonville closed its clu­b­rooms last year be­cause of dwin­dling mem­ber­ship and high debt.

Photo:RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

Chang­ing times: Porirua RSA pres­i­dent Roger Kings­ford, right, with younger mem­bers Josh McAlpine and Keu Tearikiana.

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