The RSA is facing a backlash over its decision to import poppies rather than have them made in Christchurch, with many people threatening to boycott the poppies.
RSA New Zealand announced yesterday the Australian company Cash's had out-bid the Christchurch RSA to win the 2012 contract, and as a result the poppies would be made in Australia from parts manufactured in China, saving about $150,000.
Christchurch RSA has held the contract since 1931 and employed between 20-30 intellectually handicapped people from Kilmarnock Enterprises to assemble the poppies.
RSA chief executive Stephen Clarke said the $150,000 saving meant more money for its veterans and welfare work.
"That will be a cost saving to every local RSA because they're actually the ones purchasing direct from the wholesaler."
The poppy appeal raised $2 million nationally this year but many people commenting on the story online said they would not be buying the new poppies.
Christine Kay wrote it was "shameful" to take the work from intellectually handicapped people.
"I won't be buying one next year," she wrote.
The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) weighed in on the debate, saying the loss of the poppy contract was similar to having six new electric locomotives imported, rather than made here in either Lower Hutt or Dunedin.
RMTU general secretary Wayne Butson said that the loss of a contract for Anzac Poppies to Australia and China was sad news for Christchurch.
"Manufacturing is still a significant part of the economy, and is the third largest employing industry in New Zealand. But on price alone New Zealand cannot compete with low-wage economies overseas, and we need a serious plan to support domestic manufacturing and local jobs," he said.
Mr Butson questioned how the country could retain any form of manufacturing base when even government purchasing did not support local manufacturing.
Christchurch RSA president Russ Barron told the Press the national body's decision was disgusting.
"The New Zealand poppy is an icon, manufactured in New Zealand for New Zealanders."