Gore’s Tin Hat Club now NZ’s last

Tradition ..... Tin Hat Club and RSA committee member Murray Kirk is preparing for the clubs 406th Tattoo. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS

Gore’s Tin Hat Club has stood the test of time to become the last one standing in New Zealand.

The Gore Tin Hat club was one of many created by the New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association (RSA) to entertain the soldiers and servicemen who returned to New Zealand from World War 1 and World War 2.

The first club was created in Wellington in 1933.

RSA member Murray Kirk has attended club meetings for more than 40 years and is glad the Gore club has kept the tradition alive.

‘‘It was a big thing in the war days for these people to get up and entertain the troops that had come back home,’’ Mr Kirk said.

However, numbers had been decreasing in Tin Hat Clubs for some time, he said.

‘‘It’s just one of those things that has just stopped.’’

The club hosted tattoos, which is the traditional social gathering, since September 3, 1951.

The Gore club hosted six tattoos a year. Mr Kirk said he enjoyed the level of enthusiasm which went into keeping the club operating.

‘‘It’s a very proud thing to be in.

‘‘It’s not there to raise money. It’s a matter of keeping the Tin Hat [Club] going.

‘‘It takes a good committee to keep it going.’’

Being the only club left in New Zealand motivated him and the five committee members to keep the club running, he said.

About 80 to 100 people attend each tattoo.

For each tattoo, Keven Dawson draws an art piece for the club’s scrapbook, following a tradition that has stood since the club began.

There should be about 10 scrapbooks, but just the two most recent scrapbooks are in the club’s possession.

Thirty years ago, Mr Dawson was asked to create artwork for the scrapbook by members of the club.

‘‘They asked me if I would do it and I said ‘oh righto’, so then I started and I have been doing it ever since,’’ Mr Dawson said.

In that time he had only missed two tattoos, both due to health issues.

To help him with his drawings he did research.

‘‘In the early years I used to go to the library and look up bits and pieces but these days with computers you can get that information off the computers.’’

He always made sure the art complemented the tattoo, he said.

The next Tin Hat Club meeting will feature a game of housie, entertainment from Jim Waddell and guest speaker Helen Wilson.

Friends and family members are all welcome to attend the 406th tattoo.

The next tattoo will take place this Sunday at the RSA clubrooms.