Anzac poppy contract returns 'home'
Jubilation has greeted the news today that New Zealand's Anzac poppy contract has been snatched back from offshore to its ''rightful'' home in Christchurch.
After three years of production of the poppy overseas, the manufacture and distribution of this symbol of remembrance, worn by hundreds of thousands of Kiwis every year, is returning to the Christchurch Memorial RSA.
Production of poppies in preparation for the centenary of Anzac Day in 2015 is now under way.
President Pete Dawson is rapt.
''Christchurch Memorial RSA placed a very strong tender for the manufacture of this iconic symbol and has been awarded the production contract for the period 2014 to 2019.
''The tender was successful due to the very strong price submitted by Christchurch, which will ensure the very best financial return for the benefit of the nation's veterans, who are in need of support,'' he said.
A jubilant Dawson is ''extremely pleased'' with the tender result, which has brought the illustrious Anzac poppy back to the city where it had been manufactured for 83 years before the previous contract was awarded to overseas suppliers.
''After four hard years, when we lost the poppy contract, followed by the February 2011 earthquake where we lost our buildings and home - and the fight with insurance - to finally be in a position where we are well into building our new home, having the poppy returned to Christchurch is just wonderful.''
The past four years have been rocky as the RSA has fought to champion the whole purpose of the poppy appeal - that is to provide welfare support for veterans.
This all comes from the contract to manufacture up to 1.25 million poppies every year.
Welfare support includes cataract surgery, transport for hospital appointments, mobility scooters, funerals - and, in a recent case, firewood delivery to a Little River flood casualty.
''Christchurch RSA has made a significant investment to modernise and automate the production system,'' Dawson said.
The strategy to bring it home has been an all-Christchurch story from the start.
The production machine has been designed and built in Christchurch from the ground up, using advice from the University of Canterbury on the original automation concept - through to the design and implementation of the system by Christchurch engineers and consultants.
''I'm very proud of the design and construction team,'' Dawson said.
"The New Zealand Anzac Poppy is once again truly 'Made in New Zealand' and is now registered for that trade mark.''
Up to 2010, the poppies were assembled by a disabled persons' enterprise in Christchurch which had taken the place of the defunct disabled servicemen's re-establishment league.
In 2010, the RSA national executive decided to change the contract.
In 2011, the Christchurch RSA pledged to continue to manufacture its own poppies, intent on making a bid when the contract next came up for tender.
In 2012, Chinese-made poppies made their first appearance at the annual poppy appeal.
Dawson says now the Christchurch vision is taking shape.
Poppy Day collections would not go into pockets of middle men - ''we're returning it to our veterans''.
On Anzac Day this year, it was announced that a bold, new $6.4 million Christchurch RSA headquarters is on track to open in February ahead of the national centenary of the RSA and the Gallipoli campaign.