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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Fraternal Societies — Earliest Lodges Opened in 1874

Fraternal Societies
Earliest Lodges Opened in 1874

Druids: Turanganui Lodge, No. 7, with F. Cassin as A.D., was opened at Gisborne on 17 June, 1884, a Royal Arch Chapter in February, 1926, and a juvenile lodge on 12 October, 1946. By 1909 the men's lodge had 400 members, and held securities valued at £5,000. For many years the Druids' ball was a popular annual function. M. W. Craig, P.S., appointed secretary in 1909, retired in 1949.

Foresters: Court William Gladstone, No. 6036 (Alfred Walker, first C.R.), was opened at Gisborne on 30 January, 1877. a ladies' lodge, Court Townley, No. 8292, on 6 September, 1895, and a juvenile lodge, Court Jellicoe, on 18 November, 1924.

Freemasonry: Turanganui, No. 1480, E.C., was established at Gisborne in June, 1874, Nesbitt Lodge on 7 March, 1879, Lodge Montrose, No. 722, S.C., 10/10/1885 (when 10 candidates were initiated), Abercorn Lodge, No. 76, N.Z.C. (initially No. 472, I.C.), on 18 September, 1886, and Gisborne, No. 233, N.Z.C., on 24 February, page 386 1922. Only the Nesbitt Lodge has failed to survive. The Masonic Hall in Childers Road was dedicated on 2 January, 1886, and added to in 1913, and Abercorn Hall was built in 1913. Gilbert Thomas Bull (born at Bunningyong, Victoria, in 1861) held the office of secretary of Abercorn Lodge for 52 years. He died on 31 July, 1947.

Good Templars: Pioneer Lodge (sponsored by the Rev. W. H. Root) was opened at Gisborne on 20 April, 1874. A lodge for natives was formed in March, 1875, by Charles, Baron de Thierry, who, earlier in life, had aspired to the role of “King of New Zealand.” Lodges at Ormond and at various centres on the East Coast quickly followed.

Hibernian Society: St. Peter's branch (with M. Jennings as president) was established at Gisborne on 2 October, 1875, and St. Patrick's (Father Mulvihill, president) on 25 March, 1902.

Oddfellowship, M.U.: Loyal Gisborne Lodge, No. 6087 (sponsored by John Warren, P.G., and with W. H. Steele as N.G.), was opened in Gisborne on 28 October, 1874. A juvenile lodge was established in 1894. Sister A. D. Ambridge was the first sister to pass through the chairs. A Past Grands' Lodge was opened in October, 1939, and the Charles Ambridge Juvenile Lodge on 27 October, 1945. The secretaryship was held by Charles H. Ambridge for 53 years. He died on 1 January, 1944.

Oddfellowship (I.O.O.F., N.Z.): Star of Gisborne Lodge, No. 61, was constituted at Gisborne in 1901, with J. H. Colebourne as N.G. Robert Robb (the first secretary) served for a term as G.M. for New Zealand. A juvenile lodge, Pride of Gisborne, was opened in 1903, but ceased to exist during the first Great War. A Rebekah Lodge, No. 8, was established in 1908. Lodges at Motu and Tokomaru Bay surrendered their charters, but Mangapapa has maintained a strong membership. At Tolaga Bay there is also a Rebekah Lodge, Titirangi.

Loyal Orange Lodge.—The men's lodge at Gisborne (formed in the early 1880's) was the largest in the Order in New Zealand outside the cities in 1918. A women's Lodge, Queen Mary, No. 21, and lodges for boys and girls were also formed. In 1946 the Orange Hall at Gisborne (built in 1929) was sold, and the lodge ceased to function as actively as hitherto.

Rechabites (Independent Order of, S.U.): Gisborne Tent, No. 54 (Canon Webb, sponsor), was opened in August, 1892, a female branch, Star of New Zealand Tent, No. 6, on 17 July, 1901, and a juvenile lodge, Ballance Tent, No. 12, on 12 May, 1896.