Newly-elected Grand Master of New Zealand Freemasons Mark Winger is keen to explode the myth that Freemasons are a "secret society".
Mr Winger, who is an Auckland lawyer, on Friday made the first visit to Dunedin by a New Zealand Freemasons Grand Master for at least six years.
On Saturday he will meet some of the 280 Freemasons resident in the Wickliffe District, which covers Coastal Otago, and includes four central Dunedin lodges, one at Mosgiel and others at Clinton and Tapanui.
Mr Winger is promoting a campaign to "speak up for freemasonry" in an effort "to lift the perceived veil of secrecy that some assume covers what Freemasons believe, practise, and do".
He agreed that sunlight was "the best of disinfectants" and he was trying to encourage individual freemasons to speak more to other people about what they had gained from their participation, including comradeship, a strengthening of values and the rewards of charitable fundraising.
Freemasons operated openly and injected about $10 million each year, throughout the country, into charitable support of many kinds, including medical research grants, educational support, and many community projects.
New Zealand Freemasons also continued to provide strong charitable support in Dunedin and Otago, including injecting more than $3 million into paediatric research at the University of Otago since 1988.
A further $350,000 had been provided to more than 200 scholars at Otago University over the past 40 years, and many other grants, including $350,000 for oncology, had also been made in the area.
He will meet many Freemasons at a series of functions in Dunedin, and at a function attended by about 70 people tonight he will present a 60-year bar to Ian McArthur, who became a Freemason in 1957.