Former Anzac poppy-makers not bitter

POPPY RETURNS: After three years of offshore production, the Christchurch Memorial RSA will recommence production of the Anzac poppy.
POPPY RETURNS: After three years of offshore production, the Christchurch Memorial RSA will recommence production of the Anzac poppy.

The disabled employment venture which lost its contract to assemble the iconic Anzac poppy was one of the first to congratulate the Christchurch Memorial RSA on bringing production back to New Zealand.

Kilmarnock Enterprises was among the stream of calls from veterans and wellwishers following the announcement yesterday.

Its chief executive, Michelle Sharp, said the company was delighted.

''We are really, really pleased for New Zealand and Christchurch,'' she said. 

''I think it went straight to their heart when the poppies went overseas, and we are really pleased for the Christchurch RSA.''

There are no hard feelings over the loss of the contract, she said.

''If there is an opportunity for Kilmarnock to be involved again in any other way we'd be delighted.''

Christchurch RSA president Pete Dawson was stoked by the gesture.

The Christchurch RSA had organised their manufacture since 1931.

However losing the contract in 2010 ultimately had a positive outcome for the disabled enterprise which hires about 72 people.

The operation has since secured other contracts, among them dismantling TVs for recyling. It also makes up to one million kits a year for another organisation.

''We now have global attitude. It's amazing," Sharp said. ''We are very glad with what we have achieved and how we turned things around. We have really evolved our skills.''

RSA Canterbury district president Pat Duggan said about six tenders, largely from Australia and New Zealand, were submitted. They were assessed by an independent group. 

''There was a lot of speculation but no-one knew anything. I'm stoked by the whole thing," Duggan said.

"They did due diligence and Christchurch came up trumps. It's a great place for Christchurch to get back on its feet with all gusto and vengeance. And we wish them all [RSAs] a bright new future.'' 

Papanui RSA president and national vice-president BJ Clark said the overall winner will be RSAs across the country.

''They will be able to purchase poppies for a more competitive price and the winner out of this will be their welfare fund and its recipients.''

Christchurch should be congratulated, he said.

New Brighton RSA member and former president Roger Kenworthy was delighted by the news.

''At last people won't come up to us and say 'is this a New Zealand poppy - I'll buy one'."

The production unit has been designed and built in Christchurch from the ground up, using advice from the University of Canterbury and design and implementation of the system by Christchurch engineers and consultants.

It will be based in the new Christchurch Memorial RSA building, which is set to open next February on its former site in Armagh St West.

The Press