As we shift into May, it’s noticeable that there is a drop in temperature, with the days shorter as daylight saving disappears for a few months. Traditionally April is a very busy month with the planning and execution of ANZAC Day.
As a committee, this was our first ANZAC Day that we collectively planned and executed. Liaising with a number of community organisations to make sure that we get things right, we called on their experience to guide us which
made things a little easier.
Your RSA traditionally provides support to the Ruatoki RSA Sub-branch Dawn Service, the Kawerau Dawn service through the Kawerau Womens SubBranch, the Matata Dawn Service ( Rangitihi Marae), the
Wairaka Marae Dawn Service, and the Whakatane Civic Service.
We executed the Poppy Day appeal, supported the Whakatane High School ANZAC Assembly, completed four ANZAC Day presentations to our elderly care facilities, and organised some community work for members of HMNZS Matataua.
Throw in liaising with the Hon Peeni Henare Minister of Defence office, the British High Commission (Lt Jenny Greenfield Royal Navy) and HMNZS Matataua, all added to the anxiety that as first timers in this area were quite daunting.
On behalf of your RSA, we accepted a cheque for $6000 from the committee of the Trailer-Boat Fishing competition that was held last month. These funds were raised specifically for the Whakatane RSA’s Associates Trust, something
which we can all be proud of.
My wife and I attended on your behalf the Diggers Dinner that is hosted at the Opotiki RSA on the last Sunday before ANZAC Day. This dinner was in its 102nd year and because of that milestone, needed to be mentioned.
Your RSA was again privileged to host the 2021 Ride for Remembrance. There were about 180 riders with attendees probably totaling 200 with a support crew. This ride starts at the Tauranga RSA and ends at your RSA here where they partake in prize giving activities before they turn around and visit the Te Puke RSA on their return. A number of the
riders are ex-military; however, the kaupapa they ride for is in remembrance of those that paid the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country.
And then ANZAC Day was here. As we were waiting at the Sport-fishing Club having the traditional rum and coffee, the Hon Peeni Henare and his entourage entered and mixed and mingled with everyone there. Members of HMNZS Matataua were throughout the whare, with members also supporting our other dawn services already mentioned above. Lt Jenny Greenfield RN on behalf of the British High Commission was amongst us, as were a number of
returned servicemen and women and our very own community inside and outside waiting to march on.
As we marched on to the marae ably lead by the drums of the Whakatane Scottish Bag Pipes, marching through the community who lined the route was very humbling. The soulful sound of the bugler Aria Dalgleish sounding the Last Post and Reveille (her first ANZAC Day), reminding you of why we do this every year. The breakfast continues to be an experience to behold; listening to the Roll-Call and the stories that went with it, the Toasts and the singing is something that is not forgotten quickly. The top-table and their quick wit, the speeches made with the Hon Peeni Henare delivering the last Toast to our hosts from Wairaka Marae, Ngati Hokopu whanau, was memorable.
Another first for this year was that our dawn service including breakfast at Wairaka Marae was live streamed on 1XX.
Our next commitment was the Civic Service hosted by Her Worship Mayor Judy Turner and her Council. Again the community assemble and stood as the Returned veterans marched into the fanfare of the Whakatane Scottish
Bag Pipes. Deputy Chief of Navy, Commodore Melissa Ross (Kawerau) attended this parade with the Minister of Defence and Lt Jenny Greenfield RN. Speeches were made, however, the most empowering voices that were heard was when the Ode was called.
The theme for this year’s Poppy Day appeal was Women in Service, to hear our Ode in Te Reo and English being delivered by two women was a testament to this theme and long may it continue. As our Civic Service wound down, we retired back to the familiar territory of our RSA, a place where we could let our hair down, safe in the knowledge that our manuhiri participated in our community events and it was time to let them socialise.
After welcoming our manuhiri into our RSA, they moved freely meeting most if not all who were in attendance. They danced, they sang, they played pool, they ate, they enjoyed a drink with everyone, it was such a nice time that was soothed by the period songs and singing of our very own Shelley Akuhata.
The Minister and his partner made their apologies and left in the evening, a long day had by all. There are so many acknowledgments that need to be mentioned that made April a memorable month, and in no particular order:
◉ The Hon Peeni Henare, his partner Sky, Commander Matt Lee, Defence attaché
◉ Lt Jenny Greenfield Royal Navy on behalf of the British High Commission
◉ Deputy Chief of Navy, Commodore Melissa Ross
◉ Commander Wiremu Leef, Warrant Officer Norman Leeming, and ratings of HMNZS Matataua
◉ Her Worship Mayor Judy Turner, Janie Storie
◉ Colin McGee and staff of 1XX
◉ Ryan and his team at Gather and Co
◉ Horizon Energy Trust
◉ Mark Reid and the Whakatane Sport-Fishing Club
◉ Ngati Hokopu whanau, Wairaka Marae
◉ Reverend Wiremu Hataraka
◉ Reverend Jenny Reynolds
◉ Reg Clarke
◉ Graeme Withy, Gavin Shadbolt
◉ Nicole and Allison McCarthy
◉ Karen Collins and her Poppy Day appeal team
◉ No 35 (Whakatane) Squadron, Air Training Corps
◉ Fraser Shaw and Trident High School Academy
◉ Whakatane High School
◉ Aria Dalgleish Bugler
◉ Whakatane Scottish Bag Pipes
◉ Steffan Wanoa, Hori Mana, Patrick Hape
◉ Mac McCorkindale Ruatoki RSA President
◉ Sheryl Bell Kawerau Branch of Whakatane RSA Women’s Section President
◉ Wayne Hunt Matata Dawn Service co-ordinator
◉ Whakatane Pac-N-Save Andrew Soutar
◉ Trailer-Boat Fishing Tournament Committee
◉ Darryn and the Ride for Remembrance team
◉ Ataturk Turkish Café Whakatane
To our volunteers who give of their time so freely for their RSA and their community, those that don’t find their name’s above, your efforts in giving so generously of your time are acknowledged.
Last but not least, I would like to personally acknowledge all our staff, especially our bar staff. April has been a huge month for them and they have had some big crowds to serve and look after, especially our ANZAC Day visitors.
Special mention goes to our admin who find themselves supporting their mates in the bar, Melinda who drove the Minister and his partner back to their motel, and the extra effort that she did to ask our kitchen to make dinner for them both and delivered. It’s these little things that our visitors remember and will cherish about this RSA.