It was smiles all around - and what else would you expect after such a great working at Coronation Lodge No. 127 on 4 May.
Candidate Ace Neudeck certainly 'aced' the answers to his test questions which was to set the scene for a great 3rd degree ceremony.
In many ways this Lodge is a real jewel in our crown. Not only is the membership almost 50% Filipino; this Lodge has the 2nd youngest average age of any Lodge in the country - at 52.3 years.
The Filipino connection brings a deep richness of inclusion to the Lodge as while the degree working was occuring Ace's friends and family were preparing a magnificient traditional Filipino meal including suckling pig and a delicacy I took a particular liking to - "Leche Flan" - a traditional Filipino Creme Caramel. Yum.
The other thing I really admire is the unspoken respect amongst the Filipino brethren. This was amply illustrated when Ace received his 3rd degree obligation at the hands of his proposer and uncle - Chris Alip.
If you ever want to experience brotherly love, relief and truth "au natural" pay a visit to Coronation Lodge - it's everywhere you look.
May the Fourth wasn't forgotten - the gravity of the ceremony was enhanced by the odd reference to this special day. Junior Warden Michael Siazon when responding on the position of the Outer Guard or Tyler was quick to point out that he was outside the door of the Lodge armed with a drawn 'light saber' - and indeed he was. Grand Organist David Trott also ensured a Star Wars theme to the recessional piece after the closing of the Lodge. Click here for more light saber action.
Pictured above (left to right) Chris Alip, Ace Neudeck and Master of the Lodge Leroy Cross.
Tania and I took a drive up to Waikanae recently to attend the Address to the Empty Chair ceremony - a joint effort between Lodge Waikanae and Lodge Homewood.
The ceremony was originally based on an american ceremony but has been significantly changed and enhanced to provide a New Zealand context. It is 3 years since I last attended the ceremony and even in that time a number of improvements have been incorporated.
It really is a very poignant ceremony conducted largely in candle light.
The event, which had the facility at capacity, was followed by a delightful dinner and dessert prepared by local brethren with significant assistance from Chris Martin - wife of the Coast's own "masonic treasure", Eddie Martin.
The picture above illustrates the sombre mood during the ceremony. Earlier, sentinels posted to the four corners of the pavement read the names of local freemasons who gave their lives in exchange for our freedom. The ultimate sacrifice.
Empire Fergusson Lodge and New Zealand Pacific Lodge joined forces to pay tribute to those freemasons who have fought or fallen in active service over the past century.
Both Lodges meet on the same night - so it seemed locgical that both Lodges should unite in remembrance of those who gave so selflessly.
However the refectory proceedings were gatecrashed by WBro Simon Black, PGS as he sought sponsorship for his planned climb of the Sky Towers stairs in a few weeks time.
Simon has done the climb before - but thought it would be useful to demonstrate to the brethren present the gear that must be worn as part of the climb - including an oxygen tank.
As well as the money going to a worthwhile cause (Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand); the more money Simon raises the more members of his brigade (Otaki Voluntary Service) can attend future climbs.
If you want to support Simon by donating towards his climb you can contact him by clicking here.
Simon is pictured above kitting up for his climb.
Tania and I really enjoyed our recent visit to the United Horowhenua Lodge to witness WBro Barry Branzendale receiving his 50 Year jewel.
Past District Grand Master Barrie Buck did a great job of the citation when acknowledging Barry's masonic career to date. It was a delight for Barry to have been accompanied by his wife and his daughter.
Barry was initiated at age 35 into Lodge Te Rima; did his 2nd degree at Ikaroa Lodge and was raised in October 1969 back at Lodge Te Rima. Barry was also a member of the Research Lodge of Wellington until the mid 1990's.
Although still a member of the United Horowhenua Lodge; Barry and his wife now live at Gables Village in Upper Hutt.
Congratulations Barry on this great achievement - and congratulations also to Brian and his team at United Horowhenua Lodge for the manner in which Barry's milestone was honoured in the Lodge.
Barry is pictured above receiving his 50 year jewel.
Despite having to miss a 3rd Degree working in my own District I crossed the border last night to witness Eng Ung installed back into the chair of King Solomon at Trentham Lodge.
I always enjoy visiting this Lodge. I have referred to it previously as the "League of Nations" - and it continues to be exactly that - with many different nationalities meeting each month to work in harmony.
I am also particularly fond of Eng. His emigration to New Zealand from Cambodia must have been a huge undertaking and to see him living such a great life here in New Zealand is such a blessing. Despite having had indifferent health over the past couple of weeks, including a trip to hospital, Eng captured the mood of the room with his quiet dignity and humility.
It was also great to see Eng supported by his lovely wife (both pictured above).
Freemasonry has treated this Lodge kindly in recent years. Little wonder with men the calibre of Eng. I wish him a happy year in office.
I slipped arcoss the District boundary earlier this week to witness Brent Hopley take his first degree at Stokes Valley Lodge. I had met Brent on a couple of occasions socially and so attedning his 1st degree was the right thing to do. Hutt Waiararapa District Grand Master, Rick Masteron, was also in attendance so it was also great to catch up with him. Our Districts enjoy such a close bond - it's a very special relationship.
Worshipful Master Chic Lindsay (pictured at left) and his team put together a good working.
All in all I'm sure it was night that Brent will remember for many years to come.
It was a total privilege to attend Ngatiawa-Russell's regular meeting on Wednesday 6 March to present Ted Jordens with his 50 year service jewel. Although only a mason of a New Zealand Constitution Lodge since 2005 Ted has made a significant impact in that time. His love of wife Maureen (Mo) is obvious in everything he does and it is great to see such a happy couple after all of their years together. Mo's family has strong links with Freemasonry with almost all of the male members of her extended family being freemasons.
The citation was given by WBro Duncan McLean - delivered in Duncan's inimitable "under stated" style.
Prior to the presentation Keith Mitchell gave a superb rendition of the 2nd Degree Tracing Board. Word perfect.
We were treated to a sumptuous meal in refectory prepared by our newest Kiwi Citizen Howard Johnson (ably assisted by his wife and Barry Shepherd). Howard had received his New Zealand citizenship on the day prior.
Nigel Hillind is to be congratulated for giving this Lodge a "voice". The members (and their wives) are very friendly - I really enjoy visiting this Lodge. I hope to make Chris Greenslade's 3rd Degree in Eketahuna on March 23.
Ted is pictured above with wife Mo, and Worshipful Master, Nigel Hillind.
This week saw the passing of one of the District's better known Freemasons.
Harold Falla touched the lives of many in a masonic career that spanned more than 50 years.
Born in Guernsey, Harold travelled to New Zealand in the 1950's on the Captain Hobson. He made his new life in Wellington after securing a job as a compositor for the Evening Post. Printing was to be his life.
Harold had an involvement in many of the Lodges in Wellington, but will likely be best remembered as a prolific visitor of the sick and for sending out masonic birthday cards on behalf of several lodges.
Many will also remember Harold as "Father Christmas" at various Masonic events over the years - often arriving on his trusty scooter.
Blessed with a tone perfect tenor voice Harold would often lead the singing both in Lodge and refectory.
His dedication to and delivery of ritual was a defining characteristic. My personal favourite was his 'booming' rendition of the Exhortation in the 3rd Degree. As a candidate - if you weren't scared at the start of it - you certainbly were by the end of it.
Rest now Harold - your work here is done. The memories you leave to more than 3 generations of freemasons are enduring. History will remember you kindly as the perfect gentleman that would do anything for anyone.
To celebrate 70 years of Freemasonry is, in itself, a monumental achievement - but Empire Fergusson Lodges' Brian Blackwell took it in his stride. Not only is Brian in his 95th year, he still lives in the family home in Newlands with his wife Mary - who is a year older than him.
VW Bro Dave Egley, Past District Grand Master most eloquently described Brian as one of life's true gentlemen. Well known in his younger days as an excellent dancer, Brian and Mary for years 'danced up a storm' at local dances and venues.
Involved in the War effort - Brian had connections with the military for over 3 decades.
What amazed me about Brian is just how sprightly he is. I had the pleasure of sitting at his table in refectory and he literally jumped up to help us drink each and every toast. His hearing is perfect - and he is very steady on his feet. And what a wicked sense of humour.
Masonically speaking, Brian was a member of virtually every masonic order in Wellington. He allowed me to photograph a picture he brought to the meeting of all of his jewels from the various orders he served. I have included it below.
What a remarkable man - and what a privilege to stand in Lodge with him. Learning to walk the path of our illustrious forebears is a key learning for Freemasons - and what an honour it was. We all resolved to regroup in 10 years time to present Brian with his 80th bar.
For me, one of the attractions of Freemasonry is the concept of "disinterested friendship". What this really means is that we can form bonds
with men that, under normal circumstances, we would never meet.
The downside of "disinterested friendship" is that it is not until they achieve a masonic milestone (such as a 50 year badge) or they pass that you truly realise the depth and breadth of their lifetime achievements.
And so it was when I attended the recent funeral of Barry Jobson. Although a member of the Craft for more than 50 years I knew very little about Barry other than the fact that he was one of life's true gentleman.
To sit amongst the hundreds of mourners who attended his service was to sit in a pool of total love, respect and admiration for a man who had achieved so much.
His children spoke incredibly eloquently of the perfect role model - VW Bro David Egley spoke from the heart of a great man; with a gift for music; a gift for accounting; and a love of Wellington College.
I came away from the service with a renewed respect for one of the Craft's finest.
We thank God for giving Barry a long life; and for the richness he has added to ours. Rest now brother.
For years I have heard about the "World Famous in Waikanae" Robbie Burn's Dinners. This year I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation.
The evening began with an explanation by host, Duncan Anderson, of what Burn's night is all about.
It is worthy of noting that the Scot's celebrate Burn's birth - not his death - this is because they want to remember the life of perhaps the world's greatest bard of the era - rather than celebrating his death.
Duncan had an amazing amount of information on Burns, including details of his birth, his childhood and his adult life. It became pretty clear throughout the evening that Burn's was a 'bit of a lad' - and while it appears he died poor and destitute - it wasn't until after a life well lived.
A number of very fine whiskys were sampled over the evening - my personal favourite being the Glenfarclas cask strength. Yum.
No Burn's evening would be complete without the pipin' of the Haggis - and again Duncan did an amazing job of the Ode to the Haggis. Having resisted eating haggis since a bad experience 30 years ago - I weakened on the advice of those at my table and tried some again. It was delicious and a tribute to the butchery in Waikanae that made it.
As a result of the night - I have since read a number of Burn's poems - my current favourite being Ode to a Louse. Very funny.
What a fantastic night - with execellent fellowship.
These evenings are the brainchild of Ray Newton. He derseves to have his blood bottled for the time and energy he puts into these evenings. The taties and 'neeps were also first class.
My challenge now is to get an invite to next years event!
I was delighted to attend a 3rd Degree ceremony at Eketahuna Lodge (in the Hutt Wairarapa District) on Saturday the 15th of September.
The candidate was Callum Fraser, son of Lodge Homewood's Master, Craig Fraser.
I counted more than 50 brethren in the lodgeroom including Bro George Myers Right Worshipful Master of a Lodge from Edinburgh and Klaus Heinger. a master mason from Austria.
Eketahuna Lodge is one of only 7 in the country that use a mechanism in the 3rd degree not typically seen in other Lodges.
After the meeting, brethren were joined by their ladies and went across the road to enjoy a wonderful 2 course meal at the Eketahuna club.
12 visiting masters were in attendance all of them having travelled from across the Rimutakas to attend.
Both Craig and Callum are well known throughout the Division for their playing of the bagpipes - so it was only fitting that such a strong contingent made the trip to witness this special occasion.
The picture above, taken at the conclusion of the working, shows Hutt Wairarapa District Grand Master, Rick Masterton; Callum's grandfather George Stables (from Picton); Callum; his Dad Craig; and acting Worshipful Master for the meeting Kevin Hislop.
Further evidence of the respect and harmony between Districts 19 and 21 - a candidate from District 19 being raised in District 21. Masonry at its best.