Porirua RSA welcomes a new generation

RHIANNON MCCONNELL
Last updated 11:23 20/05/2014
Porirua RSA
RHIANNON MCCONNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

CHANGING TIMES: Porirua RSA president Roger Kingsford, right, with younger members Josh McAlpine and Keu Tearikiana.

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While RSAs are struggling to stay open in New Zealand, Porirua RSA is thriving and attracting a new generation.

It's 11am on a Wednesday and 13 men are catching up over a beer at Porirua RSA.

President Roger Kingsford said business was better than it had been in a long time.

A few years ago the Porirua RSA was struggling like many of its counterparts.

Now the membership is more than 700 and the organisation is turning a profit.

What stopped the club from closing or merging was a change in thinking, Kingsford said.

The RSA started running more like a business and worked on attracting the younger generation.

Firefighter Josh McAlpine, 28, is one of the younger members.

He joined five years ago and said it was the place he went for a drink and a catch-up.

"This is more local and there's never any trouble here. There are a lot of old guys, which is awesome, but there are plenty of young people too," he said.

"You'd think the RSA was an old people's club, but it's not."

The club's membership statistics reflect the changing times.

Kingsford said 75 per cent of members were associate members who had not been a part of the armed services.

"It shows you that many who have never been in the services are joining. Everyone has probably known someone who has been in the services. An RSA is so safe and has the history," Kingsford said.

But, with all the changes it was still important to remember why the RSA existed, he said.

"It has the history and we have to make sure we don't lose our way.

"It is still an RSA and we are here for returned serviceman. But, the back office has to be run as a business."

Kingsford said the older members often reminded him of the heydays of the club.

"You talk to the old guys and this place used to be shoulder to shoulder. It's not like the old days, but we are still doing alright."

Kingsford said on weekends the room was full of people of all ages.

Lower Hutt RSA merged with the Petone Working Men's Club last year.

Wainuiomata RSA closed its clubrooms last year after it went into receivership because of high debt.

Johnsonville closed its clubrooms last year because of dwindling membership and high debt.

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