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The RSA property in Wai-iti Rd

by Chris Tobin

The South Canterbury RSA has received “a lot of approaches” from potential buyers since members voted to sell their premises in Wai-iti Rd, Timaru.

“With the location and size and subdivision consent, there are not many properties in Timaru with so much to offer,” president Lee Johns said.

The RSA met on Tuesday evening to consider when the building and property would go on the market as well as the organisation’s future options in Timaru.

“As soon as we get an official closure date we will advise our members first.”

“It could be just to have an office or to share with an existing club with some social aspects to continue,” Mrs Johns said.

An official closure date was to be confirmed, staff having been advised that it could be tomorrow, but Mrs Johns said as of Tuesday morning nothing had been decided.

“As soon as we get an official closure date we will advise our members first.”

She said the main function of the RSA was the wellbeing of service personnel and their families.

“We haven’t done the best we could because we’ve spent a lot of time running a hospitality outlet.

“We need to get back to our core functions.”

Mrs Johns said the sale was sad and the end of an era but membership was “not bricks and mortar”.

“You can take people and put them anywhere you like. It’s an exciting opportunity to work on things.”

Earlier this year, six war medals that had gone missing were mysteriously returned, and concerns were expressed about war memorabilia housed at the club.

“That should never have happened, but it did,” she said.

“You can take people and put them anywhere you like. It’s an exciting opportunity to work on things.”

Discussions are being held with Timaru Mayor Damon Odey regarding the future of the artillery gun outside the premises.

“It will remain in South Canterbury because it belongs to our memorabilia trust.

“Most of our memorabilia has gone to the museum. All we have now is replicas, and we’ve had offers to house it,” Mrs Johns said.

The South Canterbury RSA has 927 members and has been located at its Wai-iti Rd site since 1975.

Before that, it operated in rooms in lower Church St, near the central city.

Meanwhile, as other Anzac services around the country are being cancelled due to security concerns, local ones will continue as normal.

South Canterbury RSA Anzac Day committee member Ross Seatoun said the matter was discussed by the committee but all wanted the commemorations to go ahead.

As far as police were concerned, Anzac services would proceed as usual, Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said.

“Obviously I will not be commenting on the operational deployment of staff.”

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the decision by many centres in the Auckland region to consolidate their services was not taken lightly, and was made for safety.

“We have clearly stated that there is no information of a specific threat to Anzac Day.

“However, the national threat level in New Zealand remains at high at this time.”