RSA finds ale for ails
A thirst-quenching ale dreamed up in Papakura could help rescue New Zealand's struggling veterans' clubs.
That's the hope of Papakura Returned and Services Association's secretary manager Tom Sainsbury, who helped launch Forces Original Ale at the local club on Anzac Day.
The beer is Sainsbury's brainchild, borne of a partnership with local brewery Independent Liquor.
Five cents from every handle - on top of the bar's takings - is donated by Independent Liquor back to the club which sold it.
So far Forces Original is going down a treat. After Papakura's Anzac Day ceremony all eight kegs of the beer sold out.
Sainsbury was hired by the club to turn things around, thanks to his background in commerce. Part of his plan is to improve links to the community.
"The RSA has become a little bit isolated. So what we're now doing is working a lot closer with businesses and the local board and trying to give the club a lot more of a community feel."
It also wants to dispel the myth that the RSA is for servicemen only. "That's really far from where we are."
Launching the beer is one of several ventures the club hopes will transform it into a thriving community organisation.
It's just sublet its basement to the Aranui Trust, which will run catering courses there and use the RSA restaurant for training.
Students will get work experience and help the club with catering, Sainsbury says.
"So there's a very good synergy there."
The RSA's corporate membership scheme is also proving popular, offering businesses cheaper advertising, room hire and supplier discounts.
The club ran a deficit of more than $400,000 in 2011 and 2012. But last year it was down by less than $70,000 and this year it's budgeting for a profit.
Sainsbury hopes strong support for Anzac Day and Poppy Day, as well as increased awareness around the approaching 100-year commemorations of World War I, will translate into increased support for the club.
Thanks to local businesses getting behind this year's Poppy Day more than $20,000 was raised, up 25 per cent on last year.