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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Other Organisations

Though the RSA is the dominant voice of ex-service interests, there are many other organisations of particular groups. One of these, the New Zealand Home Servicemen's Association, has a membership which in general does not overlap with that of the RSA. It was formed in Wellington in 1943 to represent the interest of the tens of thousands of men who took up arms for the defence of New Zealand but did not serve overseas. Its membership in 1946 reached a peak of 13,788 and is at present (1962) 3,265. It carries on social and welfare work. Another large and lively body is the New Zealand Ex-Prisoners of War Association, with a present membership of 4,000, over half of those who are eligible–a remarkable proportion. It was formed in 1948 and now has 30 branches. Besides welfare and social activities it does all it can for the New Zealand Red Cross Society in return for services rendered to members when they were prisoners. Its official organ, Pow-Wow, appears quarterly. A more select group, but one which has done invaluable work for its members and others, is the New Zealand War Amputees' Association. This was established in 1918 at the New Zealand Military Hospital at Oatlands Park, Surrey, England, with district associations in due course in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. The national body was formally set up in 1940 and the maximum membership was reached in 1954: 800 financial members out of about 1,300 war amputees of both world wars. Five branches now exist, as well as the district associations, and membership is 563. Besides the normal social and welfare work it helps war amputees to get the best possible treatment, artificial limbs and appliances, and adequate training and employment. Several organisations are affiliated or associated with similar bodies abroad, usually in the United Kingdom. The Ex-Royal Navalmen's Association, for example, formed in 1929, has some 20 branches and 3,000 members. The New Zealand Air Force Association, formed in 1945, has 22 branches and 2,300 members and is affiliated with the World Veterans Federation and the World Organisation of the Lamp of Brotherhood (Lampada della Fraternita). The Merchant Navy has a similar association. The New Zealand Federation of Brevet Clubs, formed in 1953, has 14 branches and 2,000 members. Of many associations of men who served in the First New Zealand Expeditionary Force there is the Main Body Association and various others, of which the Gallipoli Veterans' Association, of Wellington, is typical. This was formed in 1953, reached a membership of 300 in 1960, and now has 255 members. Among ex-service associations founded abroad which maintain branches here is the Australian Imperial Force Association, the Wellington branch of which was formed in 1934. In 1947 it had 117 members, and now has 72. They cooperate with local RSAs for Anzac Day ceremonies and do welfare work among Australian ex-servicemen in New Zealand, and also for old people and orphans.

An entirely different kind of body working in this field is the Disabled Servicemen's Re-establishment League. A product of the depression, it was formed with statutory authority, in 1931, after years of RSA representations and in accordance with the findings of a royal commission. Funds came at first from New Zealand Expeditionary Force Canteen and Regimental Funds and later from the NZRSA and then the Government. Committees in the four main centres sought to encourage employers to engage disabled soldiers, to carry out vocational training for them, and, if necessary, to supplement their earnings. In 1932 the Wellington committee opened a retail shop to sell goods made by disabled servicemen, the first of many shops in various centres. There are at present seven shops, mostly catering for the tourist trade, and the profit from them helps to offset the loss in the factories operated by the league. These include artificial limb factories in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch and trade-training centres in those cities and at Dunedin, Invercargill, and Napier. Since 1954 the league has widened its activities to include civilians who are disabled. The Employers' Federation, Manufacturers' Federation, the Federation of Labour, the Patriotic Fund Board, the Order of St. John and the Red Cross Society, the South African War Veterans' Association of New Zealand, the War Amputees' Association, and the Civilian Amputees' Association have all been associated with the RSA and the Government in this venture. They have helped it to become a large and successful trading enterprise with assets (apart from Government-owned buildings) of nearly £250,000. In so doing they have given thousands of people, servicemen and civilians, a sense of purpose and have encouraged them to conquer their disabilities. The league has a high reputation abroad, has pioneered many developments in artificial limbs and appliances, and has even trained an Indonesian under the Colombo Plan to make artificial limbs.

by Walter Edward Murphy, B.A., Lecturer, School of Political Science and Public Administration, Victoria University of Wellington.