Peter Moyle, Principal, Head Students and Student Leaders from our college attended the recent Anzac Day service and presented a wreath on behalf of our college. Hanna Kilmister delivered the speech shared below with the theme of “relevance of the RSA today”. Well done Hanna.
The Relevance of the RSA in today's society
New Zealand's armed forces have contributed to many conflicts and peace-keeping efforts around the world. Men and women have left our shores to do their duty in New Zealand's military operations. Many didn't and don't return. The New Zealand Returned and Services Association was formed in 1916 by returning soldiers from the Gallipoli campaign, recognising a need to welcome and provide care for returning soldiers and honour those who were lost. New Zealand currently has 182 local RSA’s, with a significantly large figure of 102,000 current members, making it still relevant in today's society.
RSA’s are essential, they provide services and support to the men, women and their families who have contributed towards resolving New Zealand's conflicts. As a small country, on a per capita basis, we have lost many overseas. These losses are marked by crosses in war memorials across New Zealand and in other countries. However, we must not forget the overwhelming majority who returned home from war and operational deployments.
The RSA organisation plays a significant part in our history. In 1922 the RSA introduced Poppy day. The poppy is our national symbol for remembrance, and volunteers sell millions in exchange for donations which will be used to contribute towards the welfare needs of our soldiers. These traditions still continue today as well as our own ANZAC day which occurs once a year on this day the 25th of April. It’s a time when we commemorate the fallen, those who have served, and those who have made a sacrifice to make our world a better, more peaceful and tolerant place.
Without the RSA, who would support our service personnel and their families in need? In our own history, the government and the public haven't always been supportive of the returned. So it’s up to New Zealanders to determine the future of the RSA and its place in society. How do we want to support those men and women who have served their nation? How do we want to remember those who did not return? And ultimately, how do we want to shape the future of our country and the role the RSA plays?
The Great War was seen as the beginning of New Zealand's identity as a nation. We must remember those who came home but for many it’s a struggle to leave the wars and conflicts behind. RSAs take care of wounded men and women and those who suffer physically and psychologically. Their relevance is as important today as it has ever been.
We must continue to remember the fallen comrades and the conflicts in which our service men and women have partaken and which, tragically, we have lost so many valuable lives. ‘No greater love has any man than he lay down his life for his country’
We will remember them.