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Waihī RSA club patron John ‘JD’ Davies has been involved with the association for 50 years. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

Watching on through half of RSA’s 100 years

The Waihī Memorial RSA is where John Davies used to attend dances on Saturday nights.
The floors were wooden, the stage was where the bar is, and the space was half the size it is now.
With the club on Seddon St celebrating its 100 years this month, John – known as ‘JD’ – has been involved for half of its existence.
He joined in the early 70s and has since become a life member and club patron.
“In those times we had 17 on the committee, two vice presidents and a president,” he told The Profile.
“I was playing snooker and the president at the time came down to me and said: ‘John, would you like to stand for one of the vice presidents?’ and I said: ‘I’ll have to think about it’.
“But before we got to the stairs, I said: ‘Yeah, I’ll do it’.”
JD was a Corporal in the Hauraki Regiment. He started training in 1961 when he was 20-years-old and remembers getting off the train platform in freezing conditions at Waiouru, and having to run to the military camp.
He became a weapons instructor and said he “really enjoyed” his experience with the regiment.
After working at the freezing works at Horotiu, he moved to Waihī in 1959.
Now with 50 years of membership at the local Returned Services Association, and acting as flag bearer at many of the town’s Anzac Day dawn services, JD said the club has been a big part of his life.
“First things first: it’s friendly. It’s run very well… and people can come by, have excellent meals, good conversation, and be made to feel welcome.”
There’s plenty of history within the club that a lot of people wouldn’t know about, he said, like how big names behind the first-ever Warriors Rugby League side to enter the Australian competition had a celebration night at the Waihī RSA in 1995.
Among them, JD said, was the first Warriors captain, Dean Bell, and Sir Peter Charles Leitch, who is also known as The Mad Butcher.
The club also got a new breath of life after getting its liquor licence in the 1970s.
“You used to come here in the afternoon and put your beer in a locker, and then come back at night and drink it and it’d be warm,” he recalled.
Nowadays, there is a fully equipped restaurant and bar and a new private function room called ‘The Garrison Room’, complete with its own bar and bathroom.
Donna Taylor has been managing the club for around five years, but first got involved 23 years ago as a chef in the kitchen.
She shares the thoughts of JD and said while there have been some challenges, it was important to “keep up with the times” in order for RSA’s – such as Waihī – to continue into the future.