The Kerikeri RSA is celebrating 75 years with its anniversary ball later this month.
The Royal NZ Navy Band will supply rock, jazz and big band performances at the banquet meal to celebrate the formation of an association dedicated to service members' reunions.
It all began in 1937 - the highlight in those days was an annual launch picnic in the Bay.
The Northern News - Kerikeri Recorder reported its beginnings in the Friday, October 22, issue of that year: “A meeting was held in the home of Captain F W Voelcker's residence to consider forming a branch of the Returned Soldiers' Association in Kerikeri.
"Seventeen attended the meeting and the names of 25 other men were given who were unable to attend but who have expressed the wish to become members. The membership fee is 5 shillings.”
Reunions and smokos were popular in the RSA's early days. Meetings were held in member's homes and the Cathay Theatre or the recreation hall which later became the Memorial Hall. After World War II, membership was boosted and the desirability of establishing a permanent home became obvious.
The original clubrooms were occupied in March 1954 but not officially opened until 1956.
Patronage was good and many enjoyable functions were held, such as socials, dances, or just meeting together to play snooker or billiards, bowls or cards.
For those who wanted it, drink was available via an archaic locker system, demanded by the strict licensing laws.
At that time Kerikeri did not have a licensed hotel.
Members' deaths led to the need to merge with the Kerikeri Bridge Club in the 1960s and the Kerikeri Club Incorporated helped to fill the original Hone Heke Rd site until 1983 when the Education Department offered $500,000 for the premises.
In April, 1986, the existing site in Cobham Rd was bought by the RSA from the Westpac Bank for $205,000.
Today the RSA has a membership of 650 which incorporates ex-service personnel and associate members and the bridge club.
Associate membership of the RSA is open to the public, and now includes a family membership.
The 75th RSA Anniversary Ball will feature the Royal New Zealand Navy Band who will have their rock band, jazz band and big band performing on the night.
A banquet meal is included in the ticket price of $40 for members and $45 for non-members.
They are available from the Kerikeri RSA, 37 Cobham Rd, Kerikeri, phone 09 407 8585 or from the Sound Lounge, 75 Kerikeri Rd, phone 09 407 7101.
All are welcome. Dress is semi-formal.
The RSA courtesy coach will be available for local transport.
- Bay Chronicle