Wainuiomata RSA closes doors

Last updated 09:39 21/05/2013

Cheers to the good years: Raising a glass at a wake for the Wainuiomata RSA on Friday were, clockwise from left, Peter Loader, Russ Cook, Bob Thomas, Bart Bartlett, Larry Gough, Wayne Carey and Ross Stubbs

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The Wainuiomata Memorial RSA has gone into voluntary liquidation, with committee members warned if the move wasn't taken, they might be responsible for ongoing debts.

"It's pretty disappointing, but in the end that's the way it was," president Bart Bartlett said.

"It's another facility that has disappeared from Wainuiomata."

The premises had also been regularly used by the Stroke Club, Wainuiomata Grey Power and Development Wainuiomata.

One fulltime staff member and nine part-timers have lost their jobs.

Late last year the RSA put out an urgent rallying call: The organisation had about 700 members but only 50 to 60 were regularly turning up.

For a while, it seemed to do the trick.

A public meeting in October drew 200 people and about $10,000 in donations.

But Mr Bartlett said last week it wasn't long before it was just the same core of people coming along for drinks or a meal in the Spitfire Grill Restaurant.

"We tried bands and that sort of stuff.

"But times are tight and I think that's a big part of what's happened."

With the publicity about the RSA's debt, some people were reluctant to pay their subscriptions.

"I don't blame them," Mr Bartlett said. "The future was unclear and no-one likes to throw good money after bad."

Recently, Inland Revenue sent a letter warning that if money owed wasn't settled, the department would seek to put the RSA into liquidation.

Legal advice to the committee of nine was that they could be personally liable if the RSA continued to trade when spending exceeded income.

Mr Bartlett said as well as the money owed to the IRD, the large building at the end of Burdan Ave still had a mortgage on it.

He declined to be specific about total debt but said the committee was hopeful there would be money left over after the property was sold.

"Like everything else, a building is only worth what someone will pay for it, and that isn't always the GV on which you're charged rates by the council."

Last Friday the Wainuiomata RSA regulars attended a final "fond farewell", or wake as some were calling it. Peter Loader, a veteran of the Malayan Emergency, said he came to Wainuiomata 51 years ago and joined the Memorial RSA that same year.

"This place has meant such a lot to me over the years. I've made some wonderful friends and Wainuiomata is simply the best community in the whole region."

The Wainuiomata Memorial RSA was one of the first RSAs to adopt the "two club" system that opened up membership to the family and friends of returned service people.

Club members made that decision 22 years ago when they had 168 returned service members; the wider membership soon mushroomed.

Mr Loader was confident that with the "spirit we have here in the valley", the RSA could rise again.

Russ Cook, current secretary and a past-president, agreed. He said clubs around New Zealand had gone through, or where in the middle of, similar ructions. Some carried on by joining forces with kindred clubs.

Mr Bartlett said for now, Wainuiomata RSA members would meet in the lounge bar of the Fitzroy Tavern from 3pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

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"We'll set up another committee and we'll just gauge the interest and what our next steps should be," he said.

- Hutt News


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