The Royal New Zealand Artillery
This year has seen the consolidation of the changes that we made to our Constitution at last year's AGM, when full membership was opened to all those who have served as a gunner for more than 3 months, and subscriptions for Full Members were scrubbed, the member being deemed to have paid his or her dues to the RNZA Association by virtue of their service to the RNZA. This important change in our raison d`etre has led to the need to connect (and reconnect) with a wider grouping of gunners than ever before, and I think we have got off to a slow, but steady, start during this year.
There have been 53 new members register through our website during the year, which means that we now stand at about 400 Full Members, although only about 60 of those old members have registered their membership via the new website. We may not get an accurate count on membership for some years yet.
The most significant event in 2012 was the launch of our new website in October. The `bedding- in` of the new website this year has not been without its problems, and we are grateful to Mike Dakin for having come out of retirement (he turned 80 during the year) to shoulder the main workload as webmaster and blogmaster. (I also thank Deb Giles and Deb Lees from WebLogix for their support). We desperately need a replacement for Mike, and the website will stop functioning if we can`t identify a replacement soon. I appeal to all members to help solve this issue: do you know anyone who may be suitable and prepared to take on the role?
In the 2012 amendments to the Constitution we also addressed the wording of our membership categories, in particular the `Honorary Member` and `Life Member` categories. This has led to the awarding of Honorary Membership status to Chris Turver (the NZPA correspondent with 161 Bty in Vietnam in 1965), and to Pam Miley–Terry for her nursing care to RNZA personnel before during and after Vietnam. It will be our honour to hear from both these Honorary Members later this morning.
It has also led to the awarding of `Life Membership` status to seven of our senior members, in what is essentially a bit of a catch-up, for recognition of their contribution to the Association in the past. These new Life Members are, of course, Brig Geof Hitchings, Brig Ray Andrews, Col Don Kenning, Col Barry Dreyer, Maj Denis Dwane, Capt and QM Graeme Black and Mr Brian Jerry Meyer. (I would ask you to put your hands together to congratulate these members on their selection to Life Membership status). I am sure there are many more who are also deserving of this honour and we will be looking to recognise their contribution in the coming year.
The year has seen the continuation of the 16 Field Regt/RNZA Association Mentor Scheme, with ten Young Officers having been linked up with their Association Mentors. Whilst the job of mentor is not arduous, it does require diligence on behalf of the Mentor to ensure that relationships are kept alive, not necessarily that easy when the age gap can create communication difficulties. The development of the NCO Mentor Program has not yet got underway, but this program is now more likely to take the form of `mentorship as required`, still under the umbrella of the Association but coordinated by 16 Field Regt.
Minor Support Initiatives.
The `Wreaths on ANZAC Day` initiative was continued this year; the aim of this is to rejuvenate gunner networks at the `local` level, with the Association paying for wreaths where 5 or more gunners are assembled (and photographed) in one location. (Once again, I thank Col Peter Hansen for his generous sponsorship of this initiative.) Cards (and a small gift) were again sent to our members serving overseas at Xmas time (the 2nd year) and this small gesture will continue this year.
Exercise Ben Cat on 17 Aug was once again a brilliant occasion, and I am amazed that so few ex-gunners (only 12 this year) take up the opportunity to spend a day in the field with 16 Field Regt; this year it was 163 Battery Live Firing in the Paradise Valley. I wish to thank the CO, Lt Col Matt Weston and his staff sincerely for their hosting of this event; for me it’s the most important (and most interesting) date in our Association Calendar, the opportunity for old to meet current in the `work environment` which binds us together.
I thank the organisers of the various celebrations held on Gunners Day throughout the country, as this event (other than funerals) really does unite us in our common bond of service to the Royal Regiment of NZ Artillery. I`d like to make special mention of the team in Dunedin for their celebration of the `acceptance` of `B` Battery in 1863. Well done. 31 B Battery Gunners.
Inwards: I thank all those members who made donations to the Association through the year (predominantly members making a donation in lieu of the previous annual subscription), and in particular to the Auckland Artillery Officers' Mess, (a group of mainly CMT era gunners) who donated $1000 towards development of our website.
Outwards: This year we made one`support` donation of $500.00 donation to the George Greening Funeral Fund.
The RNZA Historical Trust.
The Trust, which was formed in 2012, has got off to a slow start, with a database system for the recording of heritage items having been identified, but still undergoing some development, and so there is little real progress. The trustees are conscious of this situation and we would hope for better progress next year. The Col Comdt may address this issue later.
I would like to thank our District Coordinators for the part they have played in keeping the Association alive throughout the country; Graeme Black (Waikato, VN Vets and heaps of other groups), Danny and Bernie McCort (BoP and Vietnam vets), Tom Roche (Central), David Weston (Wellington and RNZRSA Rep), Skin Frances (Christchurch), and Bill Olsen/Chris Diedrichs/Al Martin/Warren Sapsford/etc (Dunedin). Special thanks to Tom Roche and his team from the Manawatu who have organised this great weekend. Many thanks to you all.
I also thank our support advisers Mike Dakin, Lindsay Skinner and Pat Duggan. Their ongoing willingness to help is very appreciated, as their expertise is available to all members to help with advise on pension and other support matters.
We made the decision to continue the quarterly The New Zealand Gunner in its current form, even though it is now sent out by email to all but about 20 recipients (by snail-mail). These members are mainly the WW2 group in Auckland. If you know of any older members who are not computer savvy and would like a newsletter, please let the secretary know; a $20 sub to be paid by the recipient, or a kindly benefactor, would also be appreciated.
Our ongoing thanks go to Marie Roberts for editing this newsletter. I think the latest September edition reflects the direction the Association is heading, with articles and photos from WW2 Vets, through to articles and photos from three of our serving personnel. Thanks to the article contributors, please keep it up as Marie is not happy unless she`s busy!.We would appreciate input from a wide range of members, on a wide range of subjects.
The launching of the Professional Gunner Journal on the website by the Col Comdt is a significant step forward for a small Army like ours; so for the 'military/strategic' thinkers out there, please contribute your thoughts if you think you have an opinion on where the NZ Forces, and the RNZA in particular, are headed, or should be.
Last, but by no means least, I thank your elected committee who meet every two months and whose hard work goes largely unnoticed, but without whom the wheels of the Association would stop turning. So special thanks to Mike Dakin (our webmaster/blogmaster), Colin Jansen (our very enthusiastic Facebook Manager and Quartermaster), Bernie McCort (our new Secretary), Peter Fraser (Treasurer), Kemp Solomon (VP), Greg Thwaite, Ken Davie, John Botica., Peter Miles, and Bob Downs.
A marketing sub-committee has also been working hard this year to help in the branding of the Association, producing the Polo shirts, coffee mugs and generic business cards that you have seen this weekend. They have also identified a new 'Logo' for the Association, and a Maori proverb which neatly encapsulates the ethos of our group. Special thanks to Kemp Solomon, Peter Fraser, John Botica and Colin Jansen for their great efforts.
He kitenga kanohi, he hokinga whakaaro - To see a face is to stir the memory