Lodge Waimarino No 175

23 Ward Street, Raetihi

  • Lodge Waimarino No 175.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien.
  • Lodge Waimarino No 175.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Alison Dangerfield. Date: 3/11/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7578 Date Entered 10th December 2004

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Registration includes all of the land in CT WN780/18 and the building, its fittings, fixtures, thereon including the following chattels: Master's and senior wardens' chairs, brethren's seating, Tyler's chair, altar, pillars (which represent the columns at the entrance way to King Solomon's Temple), black and white checked floor in Lodge Room.

City/District Council

Ruapehu District

Region

Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 184 Blk VIII Town of Raetihi (CT WN 780/18), Wellington Land District

Location description

Note that the street has been renumbered. The former address of the lodge was 11 Ward Street, Raetihi.

Summaryopen/close

Lodge Waimarino was constructed for Freemasons in 1910.

Freemasonry is a ritual-based fraternal brotherhood and their lodge buildings are the sacred spaces in which the masculine spiritual hierarchy of the brotherhood is reinforced. Freemasonry was first established in major New Zealand towns in the 1840s.

In the Ruapehu district, a lack of easy access prevented early settlement of the Ruapehu region, and many towns were not established until the late nineteenth century. Lodge Waimarino, the first lodge building to be constructed in the area, was built just 17 years after the first settler arrived.

It was designed by Arthur Drury, a future Grand Master of the Lodge, and constructed by Douglas Wallace, a carpenter and early Lodge member. Completed for £200, the building was a single storey 'L-shaped' structure. It was made from timber and had a corrugated iron roof. The focus of the exterior of the building is the entrance, which is designed in the Classical style with two smooth, round timber columns that support a pediment with an entablature embossed with the Masonic symbol.

On the interior, the grandeur of the Lodge Room in comparison to the rest of the building emphasises its importance. It features a barrel-vaulted ceiling, polished timber walls, and elaborate seating for the Worshipful Grand Master. The Lodge Room at Lodge Waimarino is a particularly fine example of its kind. Other than reversible alterations to the front, the structure remains close to its original design and provides valuable insight into the building traditions of the period in which it was constructed.

Freemasons used Lodge Waimarino for 93 years until its closure in 2003. During this time the lodge, and lodge members played a significant social role in the local community, providing fellowship and care for its members and families. The building fulfilled the community's need for larger meeting spaces, and has been used by other groups for a variety of reasons. It remained the key lodge in the Ruapehu region, although other lodge buildings were constructed in later years.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Lodge Waimarino is historically significant as the first Lodge in the Ruapehu region. While Freemasonry was first established in major New Zealand towns in the 1840s, a lack of easy access prevented early settlement of the Ruapehu region and many towns were not established until the late nineteenth-century. Lodge Waimarino was constructed in 1910, just 17 years after the first settler arrived in the area. The lodge remained the key lodge in the Ruapehu, although others were later constructed.

Lodge Waimarino is of aesthetic and architectural importance. Its elaborate, Grecian-style entrance features the Masonic symbol and gives the building a strong physical presence on Ward Street. However, its primary aesthetic and architectural value lies in the interior, in the Lodge Room. The Lodge Room at Lodge Waimarino is a particularly fine example of its kind. A sense of grandeur has been created through extensive use of polished timber. The walls feature a polished wood dado, while the shape of the barrel-vaulted ceiling is emphasised by regularly placed, polished wood battens on the upper portions of the walls. The carved timber canopy over the stage and the elaborate timber chairs used by the Master and his senior wardens add to the splendour. Other than reversible alterations to the front, the structure remains close to its original design and provides valuable insight into the building traditions of the period in which it was constructed.

Lodge Waimarino has cultural importance. Freemasonry is a ritual-based fraternal brotherhood. Lodge buildings are the sacred spaces in which the masculine spiritual hierarchy of the brotherhood is reinforced. Freemasons used Lodge Waimarino for 93 years, and the building reflects the strength of this cultural tradition both in the Ruapehu region and in New Zealand. The physical layout and design of the building provides considerable insight into the nature of the tradition. This is particularly evident in the contrast between the grandeur of the Lodge Room, which was used for Masonic ceremonies, and the severity of the 'ordinary' rooms used for socialising and preparing food. It is also apparent in the arrangements of the stage and the chairs, which highlights the hierarchical nature of the organisation.

Lodge Waimarino has had a significant social role in the local community. It has provided fellowship and care for its members and families, and by drawing members from a wide range of backgrounds, has assisted in bringing the community together. It has also contributed both emotionally and financially to the needs of the community. This was particularly evident during the 1918 fire in Raetihi, the Hawke's Bay earthquake and the two World Wars. As part of the national network of Freemasons, a group whose philanthropy has played an important role in the social history of New Zealand, the Lodge has also supported national charitable activities. The building itself also fulfilled the community's need for larger meeting spaces, and has been used by a variety of other groups in this way.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

Lodge Waimarino is a representative example of the Masonic lodges constructed throughout New Zealand after the establishment of Freemasonry in the 1840s. It also provides insight into the early development of the Waimarino region and the town of Raetihi. Constructed in 1910, just 17 years after the first settler arrived in the township, the lodge was the key lodge in the area.

(e)The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:

Raetihi has a strong association with the Lodge. Its initial members were drawn from the town and its neighbours, and community groups have made use of the building over time. The Lodge has assisted the community through times of hardship, both emotionally and financially and has served as a gathering point since its construction. Concern over the building's immediate future prompted locals to contact the NZHPT and there has been considerable effort to try and find a new use for the building.

(f) The potential of the place for public education:

Lodge Waimarino has considerable potential for education. Freemasons are currently working to 'de-mystify' their craft and are welcoming people who seek to learn about it. As a deconsecrated lodge building that still retains its original character, Lodge Waimarino provides a rare opportunity for Freemasons to educate the public about its rituals and symbolism and how this is physically reflected in the Lodge building.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

Lodge Waimarino is an excellent example of twentieth-century Masonic architecture. The elaborate Grecian style entrance, which echoes the canopy over the Master's chair in the Lodge Room, reflects the favouring of this style by Freemasons and gives the building considerable streetscape value. The grandeur of the Lodge Room, created through the clever use of timber, contrasts with the simplicity of the other rooms in the building and reinforces the importance of the space. The building remains in close to its original design and provides valuable insight into the building traditions of the period in which it was constructed.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place:

As the first Lodge in the Ruapehu region and in use for 93 years, Lodge Waimarino is a strong symbol of Freemasonry in the central North Island.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Drury, Alfred

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Wallace, Robert Douglas

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Lodge Waimarino is a symbol of the strength of Raetihi in the early twentieth-century and is historically significant as the first Lodge in the Ruapehu region.

Freemasonry is a ritual-based, male, benevolent organisation that promotes ethical conduct and provides social security for its members. It was first practised in New Zealand in 1842 and, by the early twentieth century, most towns had their own Masonic Lodge. In Raetihi, a saw millers' town first settled in 1893, the push to establish a lodge began in 1909. In that year James Crockford Goodger, then the owner of the local livery stables, purchased section 184 in Ward Street with the intention of using the site for the town's first Masonic lodge building. In July 1910 locals began collecting funds and planning for the building's construction. Arthur Drury, a future Grand Master of the Lodge, was paid £1 to design a suitable building for the site. Douglas Wallace, a carpenter and early Lodge member, was commissioned to construct the building.

Completed in late 1910 at the cost of £200, the single storey, 'L-shaped' structure was made almost entirely from timber and had a corrugated iron roof. The entrance to the otherwise plain exterior was emphasised by a peaked roofline, visually supported by four rectangular timber columns, and by the porch, which mimicked Grecian temple architecture favoured by Lodges. The Lodge Room, the sacred centre where Masonic rituals were enacted, was distinguished by its grandeur. It featured a high, barrel-vaulted ceiling and polished wooden panels and battens along the walls. Designed as a space apart, the room had no windows and was lit by candles. Arranged to reflect the status of the members, the room had a raised platform and canopy at the far end, where the elaborately carved chairs of the Master and his senior wardens were located. Simple wooden seats for the remaining brethren faced in towards each other along the walls in the main body of the room. The carved wooden altar where initiates took their oaths marked what was the most ritually significant space in the room. The remaining rooms in the building included the anteroom, where the Tyler and his sword guarded the Lodge during meetings, the entrance hall, the supper room, and the kitchen. These last rooms were used for eating, relaxing and enjoying the company and were markedly plain in comparison to the Lodge, to reflect the comparatively 'everyday' nature of their function.

The Lodge was constituted and dedicated on 11 October 1910 by the Most Worshipful Brother C. J. Griffiths. The first ten members of Lodge Waimarino were officially initiated and Abraham Thomas Harris, a solicitor, was installed as its first Worshipful Master. The following year, James Goodger was initiated, and he transferred the land to five members of the Lodge. Meetings were held in the Lodge once a month and the Lodge numbers grew steadily. Members were recruited from towns throughout the Waimarino district and the men came from a wide range of backgrounds. The recruitment lists included station owners, saw millers, plumbers, shopkeepers, clergymen, service men from Waiouru, doctors, teachers and solicitors. The Lodge provided its members with a moral code and male companionship, and importantly, a form of social security. The Lodge held funerals for deceased members, and funds donated each meeting were used to provide for Lodge members and their wives and children in times of need. Lodge members were emotionally and often financially supported during major disasters such as the 1918 Raetihi fire and the Hawke's Bay earthquake of 1931. During the First and Second World Wars, when a number of members left to fight, provision was made for widows and orphans and lump sums were donated to the government as part of the war effort.

Other groups also made use of the facilities offered by the Lodge building. The Royal Arch and Rose Croix Chapters of Freemasonry used the Lodge Room for their ceremonies for the majority of the period in which the Lodge was in use, and in 1975 a cupboard was built in the anteroom to store their equipment. Between 1917 and 1941 the Oddfellows, a friendly society with similar aims to Freemasonry, also used the building. The supper room was used by a variety of groups including the Education Board and the Raetihi Anglican Church whose vicar, John Charles Abbott, was an early member of the Lodge.

In 1920 the Trustees arranged to purchase the Lodge building for £650 plus interest from its five early members. The transaction was completed in 1958. The building continued to serve as a centre for Freemasonry in the Waimarino area until October 2003, when declining membership forced its closure. Over the period of its use, very few changes were made to the structure. The key change, the boarding up of the windows with fibrolite in 1970, is reversible and the structure remains in a condition close to its original design. The fate of this structure, a key part of male social and ritualistic activity in the Waimarino area, is currently unclear.

Physical Description

Sited on a large, flat section in Ward Street, Lodge Waimarino is an excellent example of early twentieth-century Masonic architecture. It is constructed almost entirely from timber. The single storey building is clad in rusticated weatherboards and has a roof of corrugated iron. The roof is peaked, and has a wide overhang, which is supported by regularly placed eaves brackets. The only visible windows are located in the rear of the building. The windows in the front façade were covered over with fibrolite in 1970, following the malicious damage to the windows on this side by locals.

The focus of the exterior of the building is the entrance. It is emphasised by a peaked roofline, which is visually supported by four rectangular timber columns. Between the two central columns is the entrance porch. The entrance porch roof mimics the roofline above and is intended to create the impression of a Grecian temple, a style favoured by many Lodges in the early twentieth century. It features two smooth, round timber columns at the front, which give a visual impression of stone. The columns support a pediment with an entablature embossed with the Masonic symbol. The narrow door surround is decorated with regularly placed circular impressions.

The interior of the rectangular building consists of a large lodge room, an anteroom and entrance, supper room, a kitchen and bathroom, and a storage area (see plan in Appendix 4 of the registration report).

The importance of the Lodge Room is physically represented and emphasised by its comparative grandeur, which contrasts markedly with the other rooms in the building. The rectangular Lodge Room features a barrel-vaulted ceiling, which culminates in a large, elevated oblong area which has been painted blue. The walls have a polished wood dado, and regularly placed, polished wood battens, which emphasise the curve of the ceiling. The floor is carpeted, but in the centre of the room are the black and white checked tiles that are common to all Lodge Rooms. In the Lodge Room, the location and style of seating indicates the status of Lodge members, and at the far end room, on a raised platform are the chairs of the Worshipful Master and his senior wardens. These elevated ornamental seats are further distinguished by a wooden canopy, which reflects the design of the entrance porch on the outside of the building and serves as a physical symbol of the Master's importance. Plain, wooden seating for other Lodge members line the walls and face the centre of the room. A beautifully carved, yet simple altar stands at the edge of the tiled area, while the walls feature the portraits and records of Lodge members.

The entrance foyer, entrance room, supper room and kitchen are markedly plain in comparison. Each room is severely simple in shape and there are no elaborate ceilings or wall decorations. The walls are unlined, painted boards unrelieved by skirting boards, architraves or picture rails. Apart from the entrance foyer, which is now carpeted, the rooms feature exposed timber flooring. The rectangular supper room was originally warmed by a fireplace (now boarded over) and the remnants of the boarded over windows on the street side are still evident.

Notable Features

Registration includes all of the land in CT WN780/18 and the building, its fittings, fixtures, thereon including the following chattels: Master's and senior wardens' chairs, brethren's seating, Tyler's chair, altar, pillars (which represent the columns at the entrance way to King Solomon's Temple), black and white checked floor in Lodge Room

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1910 -
Designed and completed.

Other
1919 -
Repairs.

Other
1929 -
Maintenance.

Addition
1936 -
Organ installed.

Addition
1937 -
Lavatories.

Modification
1970 -
Modification to windows

Construction Details

Constructed on native timber piles, Lodge Waimarino is built around a timber frame. It is clad in rusticated weatherboards, and has a corrugated iron roof.

Completion Date

27th January 2005

Report Written By

Rebecca O'Brien

Information Sources

Cromley, 1995

Elizabeth C. Cromley and Carter L. Hudgins (eds.), Gender, Class and Shelter: Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, Knoxville, 1995

William D Moore, 'The Masonic Lodge Room, 1870-1930: A Sacred Space of Masculine Spiritual Hierarchy', pp.26-39

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Central Region office

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.