RNZA Association President's Report for 2012

Here is the text of the President's Annual Report for 2012, presented by President Tony McLeod at the AGM on 10 November 2012.

This year has been very busy in terms of laying the foundation blocks for the development of a strong, vibrant and relevant organisation going into the future.

The most significant event was the launch of our new website. The architecture and design of riv.co did not allow for ready updating of information, and the construction of the new one has allowed us to convey more thoroughly what the Association is all about. My thanks to Mike Dakin and Deb Lees from Weblogix for their valiant efforts in getting the website up and running. The riv.co website now  becomes a `part` of the RNZA Assn Official website.

This year has seen  the introduction of several minor support initiatives; Firstly  Xmas cards and a small gift were sent to gunners who were serving overseas at Xmas time (four cards were sent to four different theatres of operation) and this will become an annual occurrence so that gunners overseas know that we appreciate their service.     and secondly, we launched a subsidised wreath laying initiative across the country on ANZAC Day.   I`d like to thank  Col Peter Hansen for his very generous underwriting of this scheme, The aim of this program is to rejuvenate gunner networks at the `local` level, and it is hoped that the seven wreaths which were laid in 2012 will be doubled in 2013.


The Association made a $750 donation to the Vella Lavella memorial in November last year. For the full story visit the web, but in brief, this memorial plaque commemorates the death of 14 gunners in one landing craft in the Solomon Islands in 1944. The Association has also donated to  Dolores Ho in support of her efforts to catalogue NZ servicemen`s burial sites around the world.

16 Field Regt

There were several major activities which took place which worked to build and strengthen the network of the Association. I would like to formally thank the CO 16 Field Regt for the support which he has given the Association throughout the year.  I believe we have made large steps towards becoming more relevant to the serving soldiers, the first such step being the start of the RNZA Assn/16 Field Regt Mentor scheme.

The mentor scheme was launched with the formal affiliation of three senior ex-gunners with the three Young Officers who were posted  into 16 Fd Regt this year.  This is a long term program and we have started slowly, but it is intended that in due course all officers and NCOs in 16 Fd Regt will have a mentor from amongst the senior members of the Association. The idea is that the serving member will seek wise counsel when and if they need it, and the mentor will be available to provide advise from a wider perspective, without agenda, for the serving member`s own good.

Ex Ben Cat.In September the CO invited Association members  to join 161 Battery on a Live Firing Field Exercise in Waiouru. 16 Association members took part in Ex BEN CAT, and it was a truly marvellous occasion which all those who attended thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. It was coincidental that Ex Ben Cat took place 47 years to the day after Operation Ben Cat, the real start of 161 Battery`s operational action in Vietnam, and of course the occasion of our first casualties in Vietnam. The CO has indicated that the invitation to Association members to attend a Live Firing Exercise could become an annual event (if they can find the missing ear defenders!).

RNZA Heritage Trust

The Association was instrumental in the formation of the RNZA Heritage Trust, after a request for assistance from the CO 16 Field Regt. A Group of 5 Association members and representatives of 16 Field Regt met in July under the chairmanship of Brig Birch to identify how to best preserve the various RNZA historical items spread throughout the country. The Col Comdt will address this in more depth under General Business, suffice to mention at this stage that it is a very important  step in ensuring the  preservation of RNZA historical items, and the Association will have a critical on-going  part to play in this matter.


This year has seen the adoption of a District structure, each District with its own District Coordinator. The aim of this structure is to allow us to get closer to our members, to spread the networks through the districts where it is more likely members will have contact with each other. I would like to thank Jeff Waters, Graham Black, Danny and Bernie McCort, Tom Roche, David Weston, Brian (Skin) Frances, Bill Olsen and of course Brian Jerry Meyer for their agreement to become, and their continued efforts as District Coordinators. The website is set up to allow each District to advertise and coordinate their own events, whilst allowing the wider community to know whats going on.

Anyone who visits our new website will see there are a large number of `special appointments` and each of these people deserve `special` thanks; Graham Birch our RNZA Historian, Kerry Lee our blogmaster, Colin Jansen our Facebook coordinator, Mike Dakin our webmaster, David Weston our representative at the RNZRSA. I would also like to thank our Welfare Officers (or Support Officers as they are now known) Mike Dakin, Lindsay Skinner and Pat Duggan. Their expertise is available to all members to help with advise on pension and other welfare matters.

I would also like to thank your elected committee, who meet every two months and whose activity goes unnoticed, but without whom the wheels of the Association would stop turning. So thanks to Mike Dakin (Vice President), Trevor Higginson (Treasurer), John Botica, Colin Jansen, Greg Thwaite, Bill Stewart and coopted members Kemp Solomon, and Dennis Schofield.

The last, but by no means least, person who I wish to thank is our Colonel Commandant Barry Dreyer. Barry`s support, enthusiasm and direction have been critical elements in the Association identifying and implementing its `path ahead`.
Other than the Website, the most significant advance for the Association will take place later in this meeting, and that is  the motion to make Full Membership of the Association automatic and free. When this occurs, it will make the Assn truly representative of the `Family of Gunners` and give real meaning to the term `Once a gunner, always a gunner`. I trust it will have your full support.

I move that this report be accepted.

[Seconded and passed.]