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Published over the Christmas Break, 2017
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The pace of the past 12 months, from a Masonic perspective can best be described as frenetic. Our Grand Master, MWBro Mark Winger made a promise to brethren in his speech at last years Grand Installation that he would do all in his power to create a fertile environment where Freemasonry in New Zealand could seed, grow and flourish. There wouldn't be a man in our organisation who hasn't been touched by the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of our Grand Master. He has taken the "Speak Up" for Freemasonry campaign and launched it on the international stage not only in his travels to the various Australian Grand Installations but also in his recent trip to England, Ireland and Scotland to celebrate the Tercentenary of the Grand Lodge of England.
This year I have challenged our leaders to share with us what they think is the Jewel in Our Crown. What attribute or characteristic of our organisation speaks most to our value proposition. What's our point of difference; what's our essence - the thing that makes being a Freemason special? I have been delighted with the great variety of responses - you can read them all here in this edition of Proud to be a Freemason.
As you read through I am sure that you, like me, will feel that special pride that only a Freemason can feel.
Proud that we are "Speaking Up"...
Here are some random thoughts from our key leaders on what they believe is the Jewel in Our Crown. What do you think is the jewel in YOUR Crown?
About the song... you may be wondering why I chose the late Leonard Cohen's song, Hallelujah to accompany this newsletter. Cohen remarked that `Hallelujah' is a Hebrew word meaning "Glory to the Lord." Through the song, he was able to demonstrate that there are many kinds of Hallelujahs in existence. "All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value," Cohen said, "It's a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion."
That is how I feel about Freemasonry. If you are proud to be a Freemason - shout it from the rooftops and tell all of your friends. If you are not - get out of the way.
Russell Pratt Webmaster Divisional Websites
From the President of the Board of General Purposes...
Are you proud to be a Freemason? Do you want to mix with like minded people who are also proud of their involvement in Freemasonry?
Then book your place at the "Proud to be a Freemason" celebration luncheon. Tania has kindly agreed to open up our home in Paremata for what has now become an annual event.
The cost is $15.00 per person and this includes the meal and refreshments (including non-alcoholic refreshments). The numbers are strictly limited to 60.
We are delighted to announce that the Grand Master, MW Bro Mark Winger, Deputy Grand Master, Graham Wrigley and Board President Peter Benstead will all be in attendance.
Details are as follows:
Date: Sunday, 18 February, 2017
Time: 12pm - 3.00pm
Venue:Paremata, Wellington Cost: $15.00 per person
Book your place by clicking on the button below and completing the form. Numbers are strictly limited to 60. Further details will be emailed to you closer to the event. While the event is more likely to appeal to Central Division brethren (due to travel requirements) anyone, of any rank is welcome to attend. Friends, partners and spouses are most welcome.
The Jewel in Our Crown
...In New Zealand
The theme for this years contribution 'The Jewel in our Crown' really got me thinking. In a literal sense jewels are precious stones that when put together make up larger, more precious items (e.g. jewellery or even a crown!).
The most precious items in my life are my family and then friends - they are the jewels in my crown. At this time of year, I spend as much time as possible with my family and friends, enjoying their company and reminiscing over the events of the last year - and how fast the year has flown by!
Then quickly our conversation moves to talking about what we want to do next year, and when and how we are going to do it!
Freemasonry is the same for me. The jewels are the members of the Craft, their partners, and friends without whom we could not have achieved all the excellent things we have.
My first year as President of the Board has flown by so fast - but in looking back the Board has achieved so much - and we have much to be proud of. Speak Up for Freemasonry has reinvigorated many and we are beginning to see the early signs of success. Changes to our National Office structure (aimed at better serving the needs of the membership), have been implemented; and financially speaking, we are in a much better position (having posted a small surplus this year).
But like my family - the focus now changes to what we want to do next year, when and how?
‘The future, is now very clearly in our hands’
Board President RWBro Peter Benstead
Proud Of Our Sense of Purpose...
Recently I attended the tercentenary celebrations in London to mark 300 years of Freemasonry as we know it today. Whilst we all know that Freemasonry is spread across the four corners of the globe, to see New Zealand with such prominence just about everywhere we looked, was a truly incredible feeling.
New Zealand is well respected within the Craft internationally, and I was proud to be with our Grand Master has he led our Jewel - the Grand Lodge of New Zealand. We are a country that is well respected on the world stage, whether it be politics, sport, education or entertainment. Everyone we spoke to knew exactly where we were from, and knowledge of our wines, the All Blacks, and Freemasonry was not lost on anyone.
Of course, we took every opportunity to rub it in, but beyond that, I had huge pride to represent us in England, Scotland and Ireland. Whilst we are number 75 in the pecking order of Grand Lodges, there is no doubt that we are held with incredible respect. What we are doing here to benefit the craft is but a dream to many other Grand Lodges.
Our Jewel is our ability to think wider than the traditional past. The status quo is no longer good enough, so innovation, commitment, and growth are challenges that we are probably further ahead of than many others. Our charitable activities at all levels are incredible, and likewise it is a Jewel that we are proud of, and it is worth making it a strong feature of everything that we do. Perhaps our Crown is the Craft in general. Within the Crown we have many Jewels, with some perhaps larger than others, but nevertheless, our true Jewel has to be our Brethren. We are proud Freemasons, doing what Freemasons do well!
Deputy Grand Master RW Bro Graham Wrigley
Proud Of Our "tireless volunteers"...
Proud to show our PRIDE in being a Freemason!
The Future of Freemasonry sits with you... Trade our bright future for NOTHING... Speak Up about Freemasonry NOW!
Grand Master MW Bro Mark Roland Winger
The Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England, and of the 133 Grand Masters who attended the event from some 196 recognised Grand Lodges which are spread across the surface of the world to all four corners, demonstrated the enormity of the international fraternity of Freemasons.
And while I was honoured to represent the Grand Lodge of New Zealand on the world stage, I was equally delighted to be able through technology to report twice a day back to the brethren at home - what was happening - who was attending - how NZ was being recognised and respected - photos and stories.
This reinforced in my mind the fundamental importance that we must never overlook - the basic building blocks of Freemasonry are our brethren - the individuals whom we have initiated, passed and raised - those men who comprise our lodges, who turn up and make Freemasonry occur every day somewhere in our dominion, who make ‘brotherly love’ a reality, who put into practice the Masonic way of life, who live the ideals we talk about in our ceremonial activities.
These are the brethren who, when I mount a call for us all to ‘Speak Up For Freemasonry’ respond with action - they talk to the public about their Lodge and Freemasonry - they attract good men who want to take part in a world wide network of benevolence - they attract our candidates of tomorrow and ensure the continuing strength and success of our organisation.
The Crown then, is Freemasonry as practised around the world, and the Jewel in our Crown are those individuals who comprise the membership of our Lodges within New Zealand.
May God bless you all and your families, and bring health and happiness in 2018.
Our Divisional Websites sub-editor John Barns Graham....
Our Intrepid Sub Editor John Barns Graham
The Jewel in our Crown - Freemasonry’s timeless teaching:
“to regulate our lives and actions according to the Masonic line and rule, and so to harmonise our conduct in this life, as to render us acceptable to that Devine Being from whom all goodness emanates, and to whom we must give an account of all our actions.”
“that we are all sprung from the same stock, are partakers of the same nature, and sharers in the same hope, and although distinctions among men are necessary to preserve subordination, and to reward merit and ability, yet no eminence of the situation of situation should make us forget that we are Brethren, for he who is placed on the lowest spoke of fortune’s wheel may be equally entitled to our regard as the highest; as a time will come-and the wisest of us knows not how soon- when all distinctions, save those of goodness and virtue, shall cease; and death, the great leveller of all human greatness, shall reduce us to the same state.
And “to walk justly and uprightly before God and man, turning neither to the right nor to the left from the paths of virtue; not to be an enthusiast, persecutor, or slanderer of religion; bending neither towards avarice, injustice, malice, revenge, nor towards the envy and contempt of mankind, but giving up every selfish propensity which might injure others. To steer the bark of this life over the seas of passion , without quitting the helm of rectitude, is the highest perfection to which human nature can attain; and as the builder raises his column by the level and perpendicular, so ought every Freemason to conduct himself towards this world; to observe a due medium between avarice and profusion, to hold the scales of justice with equal poise, to subdue his passions and prejudices, and in all his pursuits to have eternity in view.
Our Northern Divisional Grand Master...
RW Bro Gary Salmon
Membership of Freemasonry is a special experience. It is not like any other organisation that one joins for social interaction, it is so much more than that. It provides a unique mixture of social fellowship with the additional opportunity for personal development.
The chance to develop memory training and speaking skills, leadership skills, increase the confidence in your own abilities are aspects of the craft that I have enjoyed. All of which have been immensely helpful in my work and personal life. I have enjoyed the greatest of opportunities from my Masonic involvement but it requires a personal commitment and the need to work on your membership.
Nothing in life that is worth while and of value comes without a commitment and effort. This year I have had the experience of serving as the Divisional Grand Master for Northern Division. What a tremendous privilege it is to have such an opportunity.
The people I have met, the friendships that develop and the fun of visiting throughout the Division has been the highlight of my Masonic experience. The boundaries of Freemasonry are endless. The history, the various Order’s and associated activities bring colour and variety to the organisation.
If anyone reading this is not a Freemason I urge you to seek information and don’t delay checking if this is the right social group for you to join.
Our Central Divisional Grand Master...
RW Bro Jim Watt
“The Jewel of the Nile”, a rollicking action movie that centred round the search for a fabled jewel. Visions of great wealth drive the searchers on, only for the twist at the end to be that the “Jewel” is in fact a man, a visionary who sets out to save his people.
Such is “The Jewel in our Crown”. Not the Grand Master setting out to save his people, but man in the wider sense, our family; us, our partners, our children, our widows, and then not just our immediate Masonic family but our extended Masonic family. The charities we support, our students, our research faculties, all the people who are touched by our benevolence, they are all part of our wider Masonic family, The Jewel in our Crown.
All too often we undersell ourselves as an organisation, we fail to recognise or acknowledge the depth to which our Masonic family contributes to our society and to our communities. How our giving of a scholarship to a talented student may benefit our community in the years to come or whether one day, we ourselves may seek help from the results of the medical research we fund. As part of this wider Masonic family we all have an obligation to each other, to support when required, to be strong during the hard times and to share and rejoice in our united successes.
As we come to the close of 2017, let’s reflect on what we have achieved. Those Masonic family members we have helped, those lives that now and in the future, we may have changed and as we move forward into 2018 let’s work together to become more involved with our communities and be Proud to be a Freemason.
Our Southern Divisional Grand Master...
RW Bro Rob Angelo
Freemasonry in New Zealand began in the South Island and in fact in Christchurch, so the Southern Division has a strong and lasting link with our heritage. That initial spark which re-ignited and carried on the Masonic traditions of our Scottish, English and Irish brethren continues today and in reading those early reports of our forefathers, it is clear the fraternal relationship they shared was the glue that gave them the fortitude and drive to develop a strong Freemason culture in our pioneering nation. A fraternal culture that is the Jewel in our Southern Crown.
As the Divisional Grand Master, I have the opportunity to work with men throughout the Island; an island that is our Division. Work that is varied, sometimes testing, sometimes sad, but always rewarding and always challenging both within our Districts and with the Lodges. This year, 2017, has been the same. Different challenges as you would expect as the years roll on but it is the same basic issues that recur time and again in different guises.
In the last eighteen months the generational change between those that have carried the Craft over the last couple of decades and those that will take it forward to the future has well and surely begun. In a subtle way to start with but youth, a strong belief in the Craft and lots of encouragement aided by the fraternal culture is and will ensure the Craft has a positive future.
We are seeing this through lodges fulfilling their roles across the multitude of principles the Craft offers. Being giving and Charity, or giving and caring for each other, the family, the brother or the lodge. Self-belief and self-improvement; leadership or team building through speaking up and expanding ones’ knowledge based on a belief of trust. All of the facets are dependent on each other and like the construction blocks of a building, laid correctly form a fraternal structure that is well founded and strong. The resultant fraternal mass is comparable to the magnet which acts as an attractant to those who wish to be part of success.
For me the Jewel in the Division’s Crown for 2017 must be our united fraternal acceptance and interaction, for it gives the Craft its point of difference from all other organisations. A Jewel worth striving for and sharing in 2018 and beyond.
This might not be a face that you recognise as one of our leaders - but that's not say this man doesn't make a huge contribution to Freemsonry. In fact the picture is of John MacDoanld stalwart Northland Freemason and the editor of Northtalk - one of the best Masonic periodicals I've ever read.
John is one of the dozens of freemasons in New Zealand who volunteer their time either in charitable endeavours or in keeping us informed about what's happening in our District's. Since I have been compiling content for the Divisional Websites I have come across a number of 'John MacDonalds' who work tirelessly for the Craft. Next year I will feature another one of them.
Like all of these volunteers John shies away from any recognition - his reward is knowing that the work he is doing is making a difference. So I asked John what he thought the Jewel in our Crown was. Here's what he said:
"The traditional Māori names for three main Islands of New Zealand are Te Punga o Te Waka-a-Māui (Stewart Island),Te Waka-a-Māui, (South Island), and Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island).
Thus Stewart Island is the anchor for the canoe of Maui (South Island), with the North Island being the fish that Maui is supposed to have caught in Cook Strait (Te Moana-o-Raukawa) while out fishing with his brothers. Looking at a map of the North Island one can imagine that Wellington (Te Whanganui-a-
NorthTalk Editor John MacDonald
Tara or Poneke) is the mouth of the fish while Northland is the tail (Te Tai Tokerau - literally the North Sea). These traditional names portray a resilient bond linking all New Zealanders irrespective of where they live.
New Zealand Freemasonry is structured around 3 Divisions, divided into 19 Districts,with 220 Lodges, and 6500 Brethren. Freemasonry offers a code for living in today’s society based on moral and ethical standards, with members striving to live by the principles of integrity, goodwill and charity, regardless of colour, creed or worldly status. Like Maui and his brothers before us, we strive to hone our skills and go fishing for resources, that we may better provide for ourselves. our families, and our communities.
Thus, when asked what is the jewel in our Masonic crown, no other response can be given than to quote that old Māori proverb (whakataukī):
He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people".
Proud to be an example to ALL Men!
Several years ago, the story is told of a Mason who always wore his Masonic ring and lapel pin when in public. On some occasions, he took the bus from his home in to the city where he worked. On one such trip and when he sat down, he discovered the driver had accidentally given him a dollar too much change.
As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, "You'd better give the dollar back. It would be wrong to keep it." Then he thought, "Oh, forget it, it's only a dollar; who would worry about this little amount." Anyway, the bus company makes quite a tidy profit; they will never miss it. Accept it as a 'gift from God' and keep quiet.
When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, then he handed the dollar to the driver and said, "Here, you gave me too much change."
The driver with a smile replied, "I noticed your Masonic ring and lapel pin. I have been thinking lately about asking a Mason how to join. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. You passed the test. Can you tell me how to become a Mason?"
When the Mason stepped off the bus, he said a silent prayer, "Oh my God, Great Architect of the Universe, I almost sold you and my fellow Masons out for a mere dollar."
Our actions are the only Masonic creed some will ever see. This is a great example of how people watch us as Masons and may put us to the test even without us realising it! Always be diligent, whether it be at the movie theatre, restaurant, supermarket, service station or just driving in traffic.
Remember, whether it be a lapel pin, a ring, or an emblem on your car, you carry the name of our great fraternity on your shoulders whenever you call yourself a Mason. You never can tell who might be watching!
Good men search for Freemasonry; Freemasonry makes them better. So "Speak Up" to a non-Mason today about your passion for the Craft.
Proud to be on a journey to be a better man!
You might be surprised to learn that the future of our great organisation sits with YOU!
Not one person ever joined Masonry because Sir Charles Fergusson was a Mason. Not one person ever joined Masonry because Sir Keith Holyoake was a Mason. Not one person ever joined because of any of our great Masonic heroes. Joining doesn't make you any of those people.
Not one person ever joined in order to give a million dollars to charity. You don't have to be a member to give money.
Not one person ever joined because our ritual is outstanding, or our minutes are accurate, or a hundred other things we worry about. They don't know about our ritual.
They joined because someone they knew and admired was a Mason. It could have been a father, a friend, a man down the street, or someone a thousand kilometers away.
Who, it didn't matter. They admired him and wanted to do the things he did, and they did it in their thousands.
Want to help our growth? Be the kind of man someone admires. Someone will notice.
An eminent sculptor was once asked: "How do you carve such beautiful statues?" He replied, "It is the simplest thing in the world. I take a hammer and chisel and from a massive, shapeless rock, I knock off all the stone I don’t want or need, and there is the statue. It was there all the time."
In our ritual we are taught that the Rough Ashlar "is a stone as taken from the quarry in its rude and natural state" and that the Perfect Ashlar "is a stone made ready by the hands of the workman, to be adjusted by the working tools of the Fellow Craft." The Rough Ashlar was not a stone that was merely picked up somewhere. It was a stone that had been selected. Some work was done upon it, but it was apparently a pretty good stone to start with. It was a stone that showed some good prospects of being made into a Perfect Ashlar. If it had not been a good stone, it never would have made it out of the quarry.
So it is with a prospective member. He cannot be merely picked up somewhere. He must be selected. Before he is ready to be initiated some work must be done upon him. He must stand certain basic tests. He must be apparently of good material. He must be a man who shows good prospects of becoming a good Mason.
In changing a Rough Ashlar into a Perfect Ashlar, the workman takes away but never adds to. He chips and chips and he cuts away the rough edges. He removes the visible flaws and takes that which is already there and molds and helps it develop it into a Perfect Ashlar.
The stone, from which the Venus de Milo was carved by an unknown sculptor of ancient times, lay perhaps for a thousand years in the rocks of the Island Milo. An unknown workman may have cut a huge piece of marble from the quarry, but it took a master artisan to carve out the beautiful statue. It took a good piece of marble and a skilled artist to produce the Venus de Milo.
No operators in Masonry can make a Perfect Ashlar. So there are no perfect Masons in our Lodges. In our Ritual and other work, we can take away much of the roughness, remove the sharp points and obliterate the visible defects. We can produce as good a Mason as there is within our power to produce. But you have to have good material upon which to work.
This statement is applicable to all of mankind, but to us as Symbolic Masons, it is filled with meaning. For, was not each one of us, who at the start of our Masonic career, was placed in the Northeast corner as an example stone. The stone so placed that it would, in the fullness of time, be wrought into a thing of beauty acceptable to the builder?
These are very true words. Our kit of tools contains those talents with which God has blessed us to enable us to fulfil our mission in life. We are told in the Volume of Sacred Law that one man received five talents, another, two talents, and yet another, only one talent, so that our duty is for each to discharge his allotted task to the best of his ability, and help those who have not been so well blessed as himself. Thus each will be assisted in carving out the “Grand Design” of being happy and communicating happiness and thereby become more “serviceable to his fellow creatures.”
Be proud to be a Freemason!
Proud to be the "seed" of a resurgence in Freemasonry
The video clip above is a personal favourite. In its simplest form it is a collection of classical buskers in a "mob gig". For me though it is about the ability for one persons simple act of kindness to impact on the lives of thousands of others.
You hold that same power. Your acts of kindness act as beacons for others to follow. Never under estimate the "power of one".
You can be the seed that sets your Lodge on a whole new path. You can be the beacon to the "good man" you know at work who is looking to become a better man. You can be the catalyst to something great.