Plans afoot at the local RSA
Barry ‘‘Gus’’ Rieper, 58, is modernising the Henderson RSA to attract a younger crowd.
When did you start as manager of the Henderson RSA, and what have you done to the place?
I started on June 1 and we are starting to modernise the club. We’ve put in a new kids’ play area and better security. We’ve put in a multi-screen in-house TV system for communicating with our members. And we’ve got a new website, hendersonrsa.co.nz, which has everything on it.
What are you plans for the future of the club?
We are going to build a bistro kitchen upstairs, turn the restaurant into a function room and put four big 55-inch TVs into the gaming room.
We are also going to do up the bar and paint the place with new furniture and a new smoking deck, as well as an alfresco dining off the new bistro.
Out the front we’re going to put up a big LED advertising sign and a new mural along the front of the building.
That sounds extensive, what’s the time frame?
We want to get it done this year, although we’ve still got to
‘‘We want to get it done this year’’
communicate with our members around some of it. Hopefully we can attract some younger people to the club.
And financially the club’s doing ok?
Yes, we will be paying for the improvements by cash. We are not going to borrow any money. What’s your background?
I did 26 years in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as an aircraft technician, finishing at Whenuapai.
I was born in Napier and joined up when I was 16. In my last years in the air force I managed the warrant officers and senior non-commissioned officers’ club mess.
When I got out I managed the Kerikeri RSA and then a club in Wellington before becoming the national operations manager for Clubs New Zealand.
Hopefully I can bring a bit of that knowledge to Henderson. Where do you live now?
I’m staying with my son in Huapai while I get a house built at Hobsonville Pt.
That sounds fitting for a former air force man?
It is, it’s my old work place, and my wife’s.
It must be quite different now though?
Very different. I got lost the last time I went back there.
What do you do in your spare time?
I play bridge and golf. I play at RNZAF Auckland Golf Club on the back of the Whenuapai base. It’s not exclusive though – they’ve got members from around the place – but you do need to get clearance to be on the base.
What’s a highlight of your time in the air force?
Sport. I used to play rugby, cricket, golf and athletics. I was away a lot of the time playing sport. It’s why I joined, because of the inter-base sport. I used to have a great time.
Why did you leave?
So that I didn’t have to salute my son, he’s a Hercules C-130 captain. No, that’s not true - I’m only joking. I felt that I didn’t want to be too old to start a career afterwards.
Being in the military runs in your family?
Yes, my father was a dispatch rider in the army. He used to ride along on his Indian in World War II. My sister was also a flight steward and librarian in the air force.
Are you still involved with planes?
I’m a social member of the air force mess, and I keep up with my son, although I’ve never flown with him.