RSA stal­wart will be missed

Cyn­thia Ann Mills: b Wellington, March 21, 1933; mBill Mills, Wellington 1958; 1s, 1d; d Wellington, Au­gust 24, 2014, aged 81.

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By TIM DONOGHUE

The old dig­gers from the Porirua RSA paid their sec­re­tary the ul­ti­mate com­pli­ment when they placed pop­pies on Ann Mills’ cas­ket at her Can­nons Creek fu­neral ser­vice.

Mills was ap­pointed the club’s foun­da­tion sec­re­tary by the late 28th Maori Bat­tal­ion of­fi­cer Bill Herewini, Porirua RSA’s first long-serv­ing pres­i­dent, in 1970.

She served a brief ap­pren­tice­ship work­ing along­side Herewini in RSA sec­re­tar­ial ad­min­is­tra­tion be­fore mak­ing the job her own. She held the job for 44 years un­til her un­ex­pected death.

Out­side the church fol­low­ing Mills’ fu­neral ser­vice, a bu­gler played The Last Post, an hon­our nor­mally re­served for re­turned ser­vice­men and women.

Her late hus­band, Wellington wa­ter­sider Bill Mills, fought in the Pa­cific in World War II and was a foun­da­tion mem­ber of the Porirua RSA.

Cur­rent Porirua RSA pres­i­dent Roger Kings­ford, re­called how Mills had been so or­gan­ised that she had al­ready lined up Honorary Colonel Sir Doug Kidd to speak at the branch’s 100th an­niver­sary Anzac Day dawn cer­e­mony ser­vice on April 25 next year.

Speak­ing at Mills’ fu­neral, Kings­ford re­called how Mills had prob­a­bly been the best sec­re­tary the Porirua RSA had ever had. He quickly cor­rected him­self, by say­ing:

‘‘In fact, she is the only sec­re­tary the Porirua RSA has ever had.’’

He noted how the McKil­lop St RSA had bucked the na­tional trend over the past two decades by at­tract­ing younger gen­er­a­tions of well-be­haved as­so­ciate mem­bers.

Mills’ fu­neral, at­tended by about 400 peo­ple, was held at the church of Christ the King. It was a fit­ting venue be­cause the fu­neral cel­e­brant, the Rev Cath Grow­cott, noted that Mills was part of the team – com­pris­ing mem­bers of the Angli­can, Pres­by­te­rian, Methodist and Pa­cific Is­lands Con­gre­ga­tional churches – in­volved in build­ing the church in 1965.

Mills and her fam­ily wor­shipped there when her two chil­dren, David and Jan­i­frie, were young.

Mills was a men­tor and friend to sev­eral politi­cians, in­clud­ing lo­cal Labour MPs Gerry Wall, Gra­ham Kelly, Win­nie La­ban and Kris Faafoi. She also worked closely with for­mer mayor John Burke and in­cum­bent mayor Nick Leggett.

‘‘With­out be­ing able to rely on the good favour and opin­ion of Ann, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do,’’ said Leggett.

‘‘Once Ann had your back, you were pro­tected for life.’’

Mills worked closely with sev­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions in Porirua, in­clud­ing St Anne’s Angli­can Church, the Porirua City Bowl­ing Club, the Gar­den Club and Rus­sell School, where she was also the school sec­re­tary for decades.

She be­came a Jus­tice of the Peace in 1989, re­ceived a NZ Or­der of Merit award in 2001 and in 2012 Porirua City awarded her a civic award.

As her life­long friend, for­mer Porirua City coun­cil­lor Max­ine Arnold, said this week: ‘‘Ann was a prod­uct of her time who man­aged to fit in and make a huge con­tri­bu­tion to the world of to­day.’’

Mills and her hus­band moved to Porirua in 1960. For 55 years she lived in Porirua East.

Loyal ser­vant: Ann Mills was sec­re­tary of the Porirua RSA for

44 years.

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