The cancellation of five of the six local Anzac services is expected to swell numbers at the one remaining parade, at the Hibiscus Coast Community RSA in Whangaparaoa.
Smaller, local parades at Puhoi, Silverdale Cenotaph, Remembrance Reserve in Orewa and Upper Waiwera Cenotaph have been cancelled due to concerns following the mosque attack in Christchurch last month in which 50 people were killed and almost as many injured. The dawn service at the Hibiscus Coast Community RSA has also been cancelled.
RSA National Headquarters marketing and communications manager Shane Wratt says that the issue is safety when crowds gather, especially when parades are involved.
He says Police have been discussing the issue with the RSA and Auckland Council since the terrorist attacks. A decision as to which parades would go ahead was made on April 5.
“There are 29 RSAs in Auckland, some quite close together,” Mr Wratt says. “Police need a presence at each gathering and that meant reducing the number of events.”
Hibiscus Coast Community RSA president Rod Klarwill says it was up to the local RSA as to which parades should be cancelled. “Police suggested the dawn services were best cancelled, and we took their advice,” Mr Klarwill says. “It’s been done in the interests of public safety and we want people to feel safe when they come to an Anzac service.”
The remaining service, which takes place on April 25 at the Hibiscus Coast Community RSA, 43a Vipond Rd, Whangaparaoa at 11am, is normally the largest on the Coast, attracting around 1000 people to support the veterans. Members are gearing up for an even larger turnout because of the cancellations.
One of the smaller gatherings, at Upper Waiwera cenotaph, is usually attended by around 100 people – most have a family connection to the men whose names are on the cenotaph.
Wainui School students lay wreaths at this service. Principal Gillian Bray says she respects the decision to cancel the event. However, she says most of the people she has spoken to think the decision is disproportionate to the importance of honouring Anzac Day.
“The service at Upper Waiwera Cenotaph will be very missed by the whole Wainui community – it has grown in significance over the last few years,” she says.
New strategy for RSA
Continued financial losses have prompted the Hibiscus Coast Community RSA to restructure.
At a meeting on April 7, after hearing that the club had made a loss of $173,000 in eight months, members voted for the restructure proposal put to them by the committee.
The restructure plan involves forming a company, wholly owned by the local RSA. The company, called Club Hibiscus, will donate all its subscriptions to the RSA.
Members have a choice which organisation they pay their subscription to, but president Rod Klarwill and vice president Gary Jacob hope the numbers switching to Club Hibiscus are large.
They say one advantage is that it will reduce the amount that the RSA must pay to its national body – $10 per member, per annum.
Mr Jacob says it particularly makes sense for the club’s large contingent of associate members – generally friends and family of veterans – to switch to Club Hibiscus.
Currently there are around 1700 associate members (70 percent of the membership) so taking them off the RSA books will save the club $17,000 a year, he explains.
Whereas Club Hibiscus will provide the social aspects of membership, those who need the welfare and other services can continue to have them by sticking with the RSA.
Mr Klarwill says that the majority of the RSA’s losses were caused by the cost of preparing a resource consent application, which will allow it to subdivide and sell some of its land (HM October 17, 2018).