Plans afoot at the lo­cal RSA

Western Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE -

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’’

Gus Rieper

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.

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