Last Post for an­other RSA

The Northland Age - - Local News - By Peter de Graaf

Kaikohe’s old sol­diers will be the next to lose their clu­b­rooms, with the town’s RSA due to close its doors at the end of this month, two months af­ter Kerik­eri’s saw its last pint pulled on April 26, the day af­ter its fi­nal An­zac Day cer­e­mony.

Kaikohe RSA vice pres­i­dent Ge­off Smith said the club’s in­come couldn’t cover ev­er­in­creas­ing bills.

“Our costs have out­stripped pa­tron­age so sig­nif­i­cantly it’s left us with no wrig­gle room,” he said.

While trad­ing would cease on June 30, no de­ci­sion had been made on the fu­ture of the build­ing, how­ever. A bal­lot of mem­bers, who had been asked to au­tho­rise the com­mit­tee to ex­plore all pos­si­ble op­tions, closed yes­ter­day af­ter­noon. Op­tions could in­clude sell­ing the land and build­ings, then buy­ing smaller premises where costs would be more sus­tain­able.

An­other pos­si­bil­ity was that an in­vestor could buy the property, re­de­velop it, and lease part of it back to the RSA.

Mr Smith said the com­plex had many uses, in­clud­ing as a venue for fu­ner­als and fam­ily gath­er­ings, for clubs, fundrais­ers and so­cial events.

“The com­mu­nity will potentiall­y lose a very valu­able as­set. Many, many peo­ple have had funeral wakes here. It’s a very wel­com­ing place for fam­i­lies who are griev­ing,” he said.

One of the worst things about clos­ing the doors was hav­ing to tell four peo­ple whose liveli­hoods de­pended on the RSA that they would be re­dun­dant, he added.

Orig­i­nally built as the DB North­land Ho­tel, the com­plex, which in­cludes a build­ing much larger than re­quired, an even big­ger park­ing area and a lot of grass, was bought by the RSA 23 years ago. Since then costs such as rates, power and in­sur­ance had in­creased dra­mat­i­cally, and were now ap­proach­ing $100,000 a year.

Mr Smith said the de­ci­sion to close had not been taken lightly, the com­mit­tee seeking le­gal and fi­nan­cial ad­vice as well as con­sult­ing its mem­ber­ship. Paidup mem­ber­ship had fallen from around 500 to about 350 over the last year, and only about 30 of them were reg­u­lar pa­trons.

“A lot of peo­ple value the RSA, but very few use it on a reg­u­lar enough ba­sis,” he said.

Kerik­eri RSA mem­bers now meet three nights week in the back room of the Home­stead Ho­tel. Their former build­ing has been sold to aged-care firm Metlife­care, which owns the neigh­bour­ing Oakridge Vil­las, and is ex­pected to be de­mol­ished to make way for new homes.

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