United Horowhenua Lodge started the year off in style by strategically targeting large scale exhibitions in and around Levin in an endeavour to raise the profile of the Lodge in particular and freemasonry in general. We started by changing the nature of our exhibition at the AP&I Show by showcasing the three masonic organisations operating out of the Levin Masonic Centre. We created a display of Collars and Aprons for the three orders on separate backing boards in order of succession so that we had the ability to explain more fully about masonic orders and the progression from the start.

The exhibition generated a lot of discussion from passers by who stopped to look at the display and that gave us ample opportunity to talk to families and explain how Freemasonry worked and the basis of our fraternity. We had many English Mason who had retired to NZ who stopped to talk to us and we made a heavy pitch for them to return to the craft. Only time will tell for some of them but we are hopeful of attracting some of them back.

In addition, we had a number of young men who stopped and talked to us as their Grandfathers had been mason and they expressed a lot of interest. From this group we are hopeful of gaining at least three candidates. We also had a number who expressed support for our charitable work and expressed an interest in learning more. We have kept in close contact with both these group and are close to having them sign application forms.

We followed this by a similar exhibition at the annual "Art in the Park" display of local artists and gained additional interest. We followed this by having an open day at the Lodge and advertised extensively in the local newspapers with a feature page supported by local companies who sponsored the page. A great day which attracted a number of visitors who did not understand Freemasonry and as a result, we gained a couple more potential candidates.

We learned from this that to continue to increase your membership, you have to look at every opportunity within the community to put Freemasonry front and centre. This cannot be a oncer, it must be a regular and constant initiative. We have recently been asked by another Lodge to put the same demonstration for them in their Lodge rooms to assist them in their membership drive.

Story and photos by Brian Evans, WM.