words & images: Judy McAuliffe

YOU’RE INVITED! MSA CLUB OPEN DAY Sunday 19 June 2pm -5pm   Come along and get a feel for the Club. Chat with members of the Club’s different sections. Live music and a great vibe. All visitors go in the draw to win a fabulous gift hamper.   Wander into Noble 600 from 4.30pm and enjoy a fabulous meal to end your day.        

It’s one year this month since the Ashburton Club & MSA opened its doors once again so members and the public could enjoy the multi-million-dollar revamp. I’m meeting with acting GM Nicky Elim and committee members John ??? Maurice Baker, Trish ??? and Mike Crequer to learn about club membership and revisit the new facilities.

The MSA has been in existence since 1885 and has always been a hub for the local community and a major asset to the town, but unless you’re a member, like me, you’ll likely have no idea what goes on here.  

I’ve always thought that the MSA Club was for more senior folk, but it seems I’m entirely wrong! Anyone can join, in fact there’s even a junior membership for 15 – 18-year-olds.

With the adult joining fee of just $30 single, or $48 for a couple, I’m not surprised to learn there are currently around 4,000 members.

So, what do you get for your money?  Membership benefits and discounts are pretty much across the board, so it doesn’t take long to recoup your sub, and then some.

“Our focus is on bringing people together to enjoy the welcoming atmosphere, camaraderie, great facilities and excellent service,” Nicky says. “We want people to know what we have to offer here, whether it’s enjoying a competitively priced drink in the bar, a game of snooker or billiards, joining one of our 18 sections or enjoying regular entertainment.

You do need to be a member, an affiliate, or accompanied by a member, to access the main bar.  A member discount applies in here, so the savings can add up quickly.  Sliding doors lead out to a very neat garden bar, with BBQ and comfy seating. There’s also a courtesy van available on Friday and Saturday nights, just call 308 7149 and choose the bottle store.

The Superliquor bottle store is open to the public (you don’t have to be a member to purchase your favourite tipple here), but it certainly pays dividends. Members receive loyalty points for every dollar spent which they can spend in the bar, or back in the bottle store.  It’s a win-win.

Sections (activities) include billiards, cards, dance, cricket, golf, fishing & hunting, indoor and outdoor bowls, male choir, orchestra, pool, table tennis, racing, petanque, gardening, golden oldies rugby, tai chi, and wine. They all meet regularly, enjoy competitions, tournaments and outings, and social fun is the name of the game.

“We’re keen to encourage more Junior Members,” Maurice adds. “They can come along and play snooker or billiards, join the fishing section, the golf, indoor and outdoor bowls, and further develop their interests.”  

Still on the ground floor, with access from Burnett Street completely separate from the bar and other club facilities, is the Havelock Room – a modern, flexible space completely set up for functions with full bar facilities, comfortable tables and chairs, a big screen projector, whiteboard and WIFI. Catering for 50 – 60 people, it can also seamlessly open into the entertainment room to add another 250. This is a great space for conferences, seminars, weddings, funerals, any type of function you might be planning. I don’t believe there’s anything else like it in town.

Upstairs with lift available, are more well-equipped function rooms, the snooker room, a board room which is available for hire or lease, and management offices. Kitchen facilities on both floors make catering a breeze.

Open to the public, but offering a 10% discount to Club members, the adjoining restaurant, Noble 600, fills a much-needed gap for family dining.

“This is a big, modern facility that is a credit to Ashburton,” Nicky says. “We’re keen to welcome new members and share these premium facilities with everyone.”

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.