Dunedin RSA war memorial

In 1915 an Anzac Soldiers’ Club was established in Thomas Morland Hocken’s former house on the corner of Moray Place and Burlington Street, Dunedin. In 1919 the Dunedin RSA acquired the building and initiated plans for a new two-storey clubroom on the site. The RSA Memorial Hall or Soldiers Memorial Club, as it was variously known, was formally opened on 24 May 1921. Mr J.H. Walker, chairman of the Citizens Building Committee, presided over the opening ceremony, and the Rev. Hector Maclean undertook the dedication.

The building was designed by the architect W.H. Dunning and built by Fletcher Construction. It initially housed a social hall, reading room, canteen, tea lounge, billiard rooms and kitchen. Additions were made in 1938 and 1946.

On 29 January 1956, Governor General Sir Willoughby Norris unveiled a unique memorial outside the building: the Victoria Cross Corner (partly visible in this 1986 photograph). The low plaster wall bore a plaque listing the names of New Zealand’s 22 Victoria Cross winners from past wars and a plaque depicting the Maltese Cross. Nine New Zealand Victoria Cross holders attended the unveiling ceremony: C.H. Upham, C.R.G. Bassett, J. Crichton, S. Frickleton, J.G. Grant, H.J. Laurent, J.D. Hinton, A.C. Hulme, and the Rev. K. Elliott (who dedicated the memorial).

The clubrooms were substantially rebuilt after a fire in 1962. Further major renovations were undertaken in 1972. However, the Dunedin RSA later ran into financial difficulties, and sold the building to a private buyer in 1996.

The building therefore no longer has memorial status. The plaques from the Victoria Cross Corner were removed in September 1996. They were initially transferred to Anzac Square in front of the railway station, but were rededicated on a new site near the Dunedin Cenotaph in Queen’s Gardens on 11 November 2001. (In 2007 a plaque with Corporal William Apiata’s name was added there.)

Sources: ‘Returned Soldiers’ Association’, Otago Daily Times, 24/5/1921, p. 7; ‘Soldiers’ Club Rooms: Formally Opened’, Otago Daily Times, 25/2/1921, p. 2; ‘Unique Memorial Unveiled at Dunedin’, NZ Herald, 30/1/1956, p. 8; ‘VC Winners Memorial Rededicated’, Otago Daily Times, 12/11/2001, p. 1; Nga Taonga Sound and Vision; ‘RSA Building (Arrow House)’, Built in Dunedin website.

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Roy Thompson (Secretary, Dunedin RSA Inc

Posted: 26 Aug 2008

The Victoria Cross Plaques were moved from outside this building in September 1996, sited after renovation outside Dunedin Railway Station, then in November 2001, re-Dedicated at Cenotaph, Queen's Gardens, Dunedin