The Eternal Flame stays alight as the Howick Returned and Services Association shut the doors temporarily on its Wellington Street headquarters of six decades.
With the Howick RSA and Community Club committed to redeveloping the site with an eye to securing its future for the next century, it has struck an agreement with The Prospect of Howick/Good Home to operate and congregate in Bosuns Bar of the Picton St hotel.
Howick RSA president Ray Sangster says the Eternal Flame and Ode of Remembrance Light was transferred to Bosuns on Sunday, in a dignified ceremony, followed by being parade marched to its new temporary home by 100 ex-services people and RSA members.
The unprecedented ceremony was conducted at the RSA’s Wellington St clubrooms facing the Wall of Remembrance, with vice-president John Titmus directing proceedings.
Regional RSA chaplain Raniera Bassett delivered the karakia/blessing, his wife Rangimarie Bassett the karanga/acknowledgement, Sangster read and led the Ode of Remembrance, Howick Brass trumpeter Sarah Robertson-Bickers blew the Last Post and kilted bagpiper Lex Calder played fitting Scottish anthems.
Sangster says the RSA executive committee “wants to future-proof and build a base that will last another 100 years”.
“We want to build a financial base with strong income streams. This includes bar and restaurant trading and potential income from apartments,” says Sangster, of the planned new development at 25 Wellington St.
“We want to build a Howick RSA Club facility that meets the expectations of our members.”
At Bosuns on Sunday, the RSA party was welcomed by Good Home/Prospect owner Barry O’Shaughnessy, who sees the new partnership as a “good marriage”.
“We’ll work together to make it really work.”
Sangster responded saying: “I hope all our members support Barry. I think it’s going to work out very good for all of us.”
On May 22, Sangster told RSA members the redevelopment “concept plan has been developed into, in consultation with council, a package currently going through building consent”.
He says because of the extra time that’s been taken up in planning, demolition and building works are now due to start in late October.
The redeveloped property will eventually include apartments, gym and car park, with the new RSA clubrooms occupying a complete floor, and built in keeping with Howick Village’s style and character, says Sangster.
The building project is expected to take 18 months to two years, the period the RSA will call Bosuns its temporary home. A Wall of Remembrance housing the Eternal Flame has been created there, framed with New Zealand and Australian flags.
Sangster, who has fronted redevelopment information meetings for RSA members over the past two years, says the planning has been a slow and time-consuming process.
“However, it adds considerable value to the project and substantially reduces any risk factor.”
He was pleased many RSA members and community people turned out for the last entertainment nights at the Wellington St clubrooms on Friday and Saturday, a chance for people to remember its service to Howick as a highly-valued venue more than six decades.
The executive has been in serious review mode over the past year, Sangster adds.
“We must consider and implement changes that will support the necessary growth.”