Johnsonville RSA surrenders to mounting debt with closure

'A local institution has gone'

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013
 Johnsonville rsa
KEVIN STENT
LAST GAME: Acting President of the Johnsonville RSA David Robinson makes the most of a final game of snooker after they have finally lost their battle to stay open.

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Overwhelmed by high running costs and dwindling patronage, the Johnsonville RSA has lost its battle to stay open after a proud 80-year history.

Acting president David Robinson said it hoped to retain a presence in the Wellington suburb, despite the closure of its clubrooms.

Several members had already joined the nearby Johnsonville Club, and would still take part in Anzac Day parades.

"Don't expect this will be the last you will hear of the Johnsonville RSA," Mr Robinson said.

The doors of the club, which was formed in 1933, were padlocked in March after bills, dwindling numbers and mounting debts took their toll.

A move to close it down was batted away in April at a meeting of more than 170 people. The RSA members voted almost unanimously to keep the club going.

However, Mr Robinson the club had failed to attract young people, both as members and to help run the organisation.

It had also been crippled by the costs of running its large clubrooms despite an understanding landlord. Efforts to find a partner had failed.

Ohariu MP and UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne said it was a sad day for the community.

"It is a local institution that has gone."

The liquidation of the Johnsonville RSA followed the loss of the Wainuiomata RSA, which closed its doors in May.

New Zealand RSA chief executive David Moger said a nationwide rebranding exercise was under way to boost the organisation.

While it had not been possible to save the Johnsonville RSA, membership numbers at other clubs, including Paraparaumu and Seatoun, were rising.

"We are changing the overall brand of the RSA, with a new colour scheme, look and feel."

The key was to place RSAs at the heart of the community, he said.

"People still think you have to be ex-military to join the RSA, but the reality is anyone can join."

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- The Dominion Post

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