New Zealand
Returned & Services Association

 
 

One of our members, Don Donaldson of New Zealand sent along an explanation of a Veterans Service Organization in New Zealand called the Returned & Services Association after I had asked him just what this organization does. Here is reply:

"Well Bill, very briefly, The Returned and Services Association was started in 1917 when the troops started to come back from the First World War. Initially it was titled The New Zealand Returned Soldiers Association.

With the passage of time it was granted Royal status, hence the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association. The word Returned speaks for itself, being ex service people who have returned from war. The word services are those military people who never left New Zealand but do, or have served in the military.

Each RSA has a welfare/pensions officer to assist members applying for War Disability Pensions. I have held that position in two RSAs for more than 25 years, although I only assist Foxton people now. I have held a number of Executive appointments in RSAs that I belong to. I was President of the Palmerston North RSA for two years, but had served as its Treasurer for seven years before that.  I am currently the Vice President at Foxton and I am the Chairman of the Foxton RSA Trust Board, which is the welfare arm of the Foxton RSA. I am also a Life Member of Two RSAs. You may or may not be aware that Pat Duggan is the District President of the Canterbury District of RSAs. Does a good job too.

The RNZRSA has well over 100 Associations throughout NZ all kindred associations. Although there is a headquarters as such in Wellington. All the other associations are autonomous. The main philosophy is that of welfare to all current and ex service people and their wives/partners and family.  Most schools and colleges in New Zealand have a liaison with an RSA in their district. The children want to know what the fathers and grandfathers did in whatever war they were at and are in the main very much involved in ANZAC Day and Armistice Day on the 11th November each year.

Each association holds a street appeal Poppy Day throughout NZ, usually on the Friday before each ANZAC day. People buy their Poppies to wear on ANZAC Day. Most RSAs make well in excess of $20,000 each year and this money goes to provide comfort and welfare to returned service people, who are either down on their luck or in need of medical assistance.

The RNZRSA headquarters holds one major conference each year in Wellington and each RSA have two or more delegates attending. A group of members from one end of the country to the other are elected to the National Executive Committee. This Committee is a lobby group that brings pressure to bear on the Government of New Zealand on behalf of all ex service people. A good relationship has been established over many tears and the Prime Minister, Governor General and other ministers of the crown attend all conferences.

The RNZRSA is a kindred organization to Veterans Associations throughout the western world. If the 83rd members belong to such an American group they would be most welcome in any RSA in NZ at any time."

Cheers,
Don Donaldson"

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