The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association, best known simply as the RSA, is one of the largest voluntary welfare organisations in New Zealand and one of the oldest ex-service organisations in the world.
Wounded soldiers returning from the Gallipoli Campaign, World War I, founded the organisation in 1916, and it received royal patronage in 1920. The RNZRSA celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2016.
The RSA’s commitment to service personnel in need is embodied in Poppy Day when red poppies are exchanged for donations to hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders to raise funds for the welfare of all service personnel and their families. Poppy Day is usually observed on the Friday before ANZAC Day (25 April), New Zealand’s national day of commemoration.
Remembrance plays a special part in the life of the RSA. A moment of silence is generally observed daily at RSA club rooms in memory of comrades. On ANZAC Day and on other special anniversaries, local RSAs play a significant part in wreath-laying ceremonies of remembrance. As of 2014, 103,574 members support a network of 180 local RSAs throughout New Zealand. RSA membership is open to everyone. The badge is still one of the most familiar icons in New Zealand.
The ‘local RSA’ is a well-known meeting place or restaurant where anyone is welcome.