ABOUT BIRKENHEAD RSA
The Birkenhead Returned Services’ Association was first conceived at a meeting of interested people in the rooms of Dr J.W. Craven at Highbury in 1929. This led to the formation of the Birkenhead Returned Services’ Club which had its first AGM on 30 August 1930 in what was then the RAOB Hall at Highbury. The Committee elected at that AGM developed the initial rules/constitution of the organisation, which was to be a Sub-Branch of the Auckland R.S.A.
By 1934, through hard work with socials and fund raising events, the Birkenhead Returned Services’ Club had accumulated enough money to buy the RAOB Hall and the clubrooms were retitled accordingly.
By 1967 the prospects of a new club were being discussed in general terms and a new project was considered. However, due to inadequate finance and income, the project was shelved.
In 1968 it was again considered. Again it was still out of financial reach, but about that time a new proposal emerged. The Birkenhead City Council and a developer, Davidson Construction, were planning a new shopping centre at Highbury and the Birkenhead Returned Services’ Club hall was in the way. After lots of negotiation, the upshot was that the Birkenhead Returned Services’ Club site was sold to the developer and the hall, which was not wanted by the developer, was sold separately for a peppercorn sum so as to provide a cleared site.
Council offered to lease a piece of land on the War Memorial Park for new clubrooms. A lease, with rights of renewal in perpetuity, was approved by the Council for the site. Plans were prepared, tenders called and a builder selected. However, the problem was still that there was not enough money. The building size had to be reduced to conform, and help with such as painting was necessary to cut costs. In due course, and with much volunteer support, the clubrooms were completed and duly officially opened by the then Minister of Defence, the Hon David Thomson on 16 May 1970.
In 1972 the New Zealand Returned Services Association granted direct affiliation to the club as a Returned Services’ Association, this being celebrated on 20 January 1973.
As needs required and finance allowed, major additions to the premises were carried in 1984, 1989 (self-contained restaurant and sports / function room downstairs) and 1999 (a new frontage containing a conference room and offices) to enlarge them to what they are at present.
The two thousand plus membership consists of an even split of Returned, Service, and ever increasing Associate members, and a very strong Women’s section.