Taranaki's Scottish Freemasons celebrate 125 years since lodge was formed
Freemasons celebrating the 125th anniversary of the group starting in Taranaki have marked the occasion with a weekend of events, including a public church service.
The Stratford based Lodge Hinemoa, which is part of the Scottish Constitution, was formed on March 1, 1892 and Right Worshipful Master Brother Robin Stanford said it was still going strong.
He said the group started off with a lunch on Friday which was followed by a lodge meeting on Saturday while the women visited Hollard Gardens.
The weekend finished off with a church service at the Pioneer Village led by Reverend David Self.
* Prominent Taranaki lawyer Dennis King dies
* Taranaki Freemasons celebrate 125 years in Taranaki with public church service
* Lifting the veil on the world of Freemasonry
* Freemasons members lose battle of will against elderly widow
"We've probably gathered around 100 people from around the North Island for the celebrations, that's men not counting partners," he said,
"There are four constitutions in New Zealand, there's the English, the Irish, the Scottish and the New Zealand constitution, and we had the senior people from all the constitutions here yesterday."
While the origins of freemasonry is unknown, it is usually traced back to the fraternities of stonemasons during the 14th century.
Taranaki's Scottish lodge was first formed in Midhirst and meetings were held in the Midhirst Public Hall until 1895 when the new lodge rooms were built on Erin St.
In June 1910, the Lodge Hall was moved by bullock dray to the corner of Celia St and Juliet St in Stratford, where the lodge continued to meet until April 1930 when it built the building at the southern end of Broadway where it currently meets.
Stanford said it was likely the traditions and brotherhood behind the group that had kept it going strong over the years.
"A lot of people when they came back from the war missed the fraternity in the military and a lot of them joined masonic lodges for the same sense of friendship and fellowship," he said.
He described Freemasonry as an "ancient and noble constitution".
"The English constitution is celebrating 300 years of Freemasonry around the world this year, we're only celebrating 125 years so it's been around a long long time, and we've got lodges in Scotland that are four or five hundred years old," he said.
"Probably the public face of Freemasonry in Taranaki is our masonic villages, we've got retirement village units in Opunake, Eltham, Hawera, Waitara, of course New Plymouth and that's really the public face of what we do but quietly, we don't make a big thing about it."