Masonic Hall (Former)

32 Kelvin Street, Invercargill

  • Masonic Hall (Former), Invercargill after repaint.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: HNZPT Southland Area Office. Date: 13/04/2013.
  • Masonic Hall (Former), Invercargill.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Chris Horwell. Date: 7/03/2018.
  • Masonic Hall (Former), Invercargill.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 388 Date Entered 22nd November 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 2153 (CT SLB1/524, NZ Gazette 1880 p.345), Southland Land District, and the building known as the Masonic Hall (Former), thereon.

City/District Council

Invercargill City


Southland Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 2153 (CT SLB1/524, NZ Gazette 1880 p.345), Southland Land District


Built as a Masonic Hall in 1864, and used as the Southland Provincial Council Chambers from 1866 until 1870, this modest structure is one of only two buildings associated with New Zealand’s short-lived system of Provincial Government. It has historic and architectural significance.

The Southern Cross Lodge No. 9 was established in 1863, following meetings where Masons from different constitutions met to discuss forming a lodge. Their first petition to the United Grand Lodge of England was turned down, but a second petition was granted and issued on 12 January 1864 as the Southern Cross Lodge no. 997. The first Consecration Meeting was attended by 34 Master Masons, and in its first year the lodge admitted 21 affiliates. Initial meetings were held at a room in Watson’s Hotel, until the hall was consecrated.

In March 1864, part of Section 11, Block IX, with a frontage to Kelvin Street, was purchased. Architects Taylor and Marchant invited tenders in March 1864. John Hill’s tender of £1,000 was selected. The hall was consecrated on 9 November 1864.

The lodge got into financial difficulties, and the mortgagee (and contractor for the building) John Hill offered it to the Provincial Government. After some discussion and controversy, the property was conveyed to the Superintendent of Southland in August 1866, and the building became known as the Southland Provincial Chambers.

The lodge continued to meet at the hall, sharing the meeting space with the new owners. As the lodge recovered from the slump of the mid-1860s, members offered to buy back the building but the Provincial Government declined. The Southland Provincial Council met at the hall until 1870, when the province was abolished at which time the building was taken over the by Crown. Between 1871 and 1878 the building was used as a courthouse for sessions of the Supreme Court and the District Court, and when there were no sittings of the courts, as chambers for the Invercargill Borough Council (the first election for which took place in 1871). After a new courthouse was opened in 1880, the building was solely occupied by the Invercargill Borough Council.

By the end of the century, the ‘Council Hall’ was too small. At a meeting in May 1897, Invercargill mayor J.A. Hanan told the councillors that everyone admitted that ‘the present accommodation was far too small and that an enlargement was absolutely necessary.’ Not only was the building too small, but it presented the town in a bad light, a town of such status ‘should have a building that was a credit to the town. The mayor was ashamed of taking the Governor of Victoria around the town, and listen to the Governor’s ‘glowing eulogies of our street architecture’ only to have to visit the ‘despicable little edifice in Kelvin street.’ In 1906, most of the council offices moved to the new town hall. The old building was retained as offices for the traffic and gas departments of the council. These departments remained in the building until 1959. In 1963, the building was sold to Calder Mackay Limited who retained ownership into the 1970s. In 1979 the New Zealand Historic Places Trust bought the building. The southern addition was removed in 1979. In 2017, the former Masonic Hall provides retail premises.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

John Marchant

John Marchant served with his stepfather on the Tigura Railway in Rio de Janero, and later carried out surveys in Victoria. In 1863, he followed the call of gold to New Zealand, before settling in Invercargill. In 1865, he joined the public service as the first Government geological surveyor. In 1879, he became surveyor for Wellington, and a commissioner of Crown Lands in 1884. In 1902, he was appointed Surveyor-general. Marchant died in 1920.

J.B. Taylor

Taylor and Marchant advertised as architects, surveyors, land estate agents and auctioneers in Invercargill between September 1863 and July 1864. They had previously worked for the Government of Victoria as surveyors. Marchant and Taylor dissolved their partnership in August 1864.

Taylor went into partnership with Henry Monkman as Auctioneer, Land and Estate Agent, trading as Monkman and Taylor. Little else is known about Taylor’s life.

John Hill

John Hill is listed as a builder and contractor in the 1866-1867 Steven’s and Bartholomew’s New Zealand Directory. Hill worked in the Southland area from 1862 until the mid-1870s. In October 1875, he and fellow contractors James and Andrew McMenamin filed for bankruptcy, after which, Hill may have left the business.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1864 -

1897 - 1900
Addition to the south side

1979 - 1979
Addition removed

Completion Date

15th January 2018

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

New Zealand Freemason

NZ Freemason magazine, Issue 2 June 2014

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand