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Temperance and Prohibition in New Zealand

(1) Independent Order of Rechabites

(1) Independent Order of Rechabites

The Independent Order of Rechabites had a very humble origin, and from the day of formation at Salford, England, in 1835, it has always kept the principles of abstinence from all intoxicating liquors as beverages in the forefront of its work, and has never changed its opinion as to the necessity for the legal Prohibition of the manufacture, sale, and importation of such liquors by the will of the people as a means to protect and to advance the best interests of the British people, and the whole human family. The New Zealand Rechabites, a registered Friendly Society, are working under charter issued by the head office, which is situated in Manchester, England, and are thus affiliated with the world wide Order, numbering now over a million and a quarter members, and is a united brotherhood banded together to assist each other in times of sickness and distress. There are two Districts operating in New Zealand. The oldest is the New Zealand District No. 84. The headquarters are in Auckland, and the district secretary is D. M. A. Bodley, 570, New North Road, Mount Albert. The other district is the New Zealand Central District No. 86, and these headquarters are 125, Willis Street, Wellington. The district secretary is T. Fathers.

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The Order was first introduced into New Zealand in 1843, when a branch was opened at Nelson, on the hillside amongst the titree and toi-toi overlooking Tasman Bay. Prominent amongst the early settlers was Mr. Alfred Saunders, who, at a later period, became the superintendent of the Canterbury Province. With him were Messrs. Hammond, Butler, Hill and Andrews, who assisted at the opening of the first Rechabite Tent in New Zealand. William Andrews, the grandfather of George William Andrews, a well-known worker in the temperance field, resident at Ashburton, has the certificate that was issued to his grandfather by the Reformer Tent, Nelson, in 1843. This branch of the Order only existed for two and a half years and was dissolved by mutual consent, the members sharing equally the funds. The next effort to establish the Order was made at Wanganui in the early fifties. Messrs. John Harding, C. M. Harkness and Thos. Scrivener were charter members who did their best to keep the branch going without success. The next attempt was made at Auckland in 1863, when the Hope of Auckland Tent was opened, and is still going strong with over three hundred members. Very little is known of the names, and early struggles of the Hope of Auckland. Some of the stalwarts who have laboured so successfully in carrying on are J. G. Carr and his brother W. Carr, W. Johnson, W. Danby, J. W. Foster, J. McDermott, A. Jenkins, W. Perritt, T. W. Marshall, J. Jebson, R. H. Wilson, A. E. Clark, W. Day and D. M. A. Bodley.

In 1866 a branch of the Order was instituted in Wellington, in response to a requisition sent to Auckland, as the Senior Society in New Zealand, when Bro. William Johnson, a member of the page 190 Auckland Tent, who came to New Zealand with the Sixty-fifth Regiment, was sergeant tailor of the regiment, when he retired from the army at Auckland, came to Wellington to open the Tent on December 13, 1866. The following were duly initiated—F. H. Fraser, M. Reid, A. Levy, W. Lawes, D. Watson, J. Godber, C. Jacobs, G. Janson, W. Isaacs, J. Tolley, I. and W. H. McClelland.

The Tent was named the Hope of Wellington, and has continued in actual work and now has a membership of nearly two hundred and fifty. In 1870, Tents were opened at the Thames and at Napier. The Napier Tent was opened on September 13, 1870, in the St. Paul's church schoolroom. The following were elected officers—C. R. Denholm, D.R., R. C. Harding, secretary, J. McVay and W. Burton, steward, and was named the Hope of Napier Tent.

In 1871 a Tent was opened at Blenheim and named the Bon Accord Tent. Amongst the officers were the Rev. W. Sherriffs, Messrs. H. Jellyman, S. Carvell, W. B. Earl, A. McKenzie.

In 1872, the second Tent was opened in Wellington, and named the Perseverance. Amongst the prominent workers were Gilbert Carson, who later went to Wanganui, G. Ward, J. T. Rogers, D. Hall, J. B. Haddon, W. H. Frethey, R. A. Ferguson and R. Burton.

In 1874 a branch was opened at Nelson. Amongst the officers were A. Wilkie, A. T. Jones, W. T. Sherwood, T. Fathers, W. H. Berry, J. Milroy, W. Mitchner, J. Piper, R. Watson, J. M. Calder, H. Budden.

In 1875 a branch was opened at New Plymouth. Prominent amongst the workers were J. Whitaker, page 191 F. Goodacre, P. Hopkins, W. Chatterton and W. Jones.

In 1875, the third Tent was opened in Wellington, named ‘Excelsior.’ Officers—W. J. Gaudin, Senior and Junior D. McIntyre, A. Huggins, G. Bedford, T. W. Ward, A. Kelloway and Mr. H. Jeffery. In 1876 the Order reached Dunedin. The Tent was named the Hope of Dunedin. Officers—C. R. Clarke, A. J. Bennett, D. J. Stokes, A. Hayes, Bros. Brown, Hooper, Porteous, Henderson. Trustees, G. Watson, J. A. D. Adams, J. Neale. Tent Surgeon, Dr. Murphy. R. Farrant, R. Cole, A. McIndoe, Fleming and Davis.

In 1877 the Order started in Christchurch. The first Chief Ruler, Bro. J. T. Smith, was a well-known temperance advocate. Associated in the early days were S. W. Fox, who was an active member of the Rechabite Order and the Rev. Richardson.

Christchurch has always been an active centre of Rechabite work, and is now the largest, numerically, in the Dominion, having eight branches in active work. Messrs. J. Flesher, J. Henwood, R. H. Taylor, J. Palmer, and C. H. Bascand, materially assisted to raise the Order into the leading place in the Dominion.

Invercargill in 1877 opened the Murihiku Tent. Prominent amongst the early workers were C. W. Brown, J. J. Wesney, W. Stead, and J. Hensley.

Ormondville was the next place to start a branch of the Order. A. Levy, R. C. Groom, were amongst the first officers. As the Dominion population increased, branches of the Order were opened, and now there is an active branch in Woodville, Masterton, Carterton, Aratapu, Wakefield, Johnson- page 192 ville, Onehunga, Whangaroa, Waihi, Northcote, Palmerston North, Warkworth, Hawera, Brightwater, Stratford, Inglewood, Levin, Cambridge, Petone, Wanganui, Hastings, Ashburton, Hamilton, Mount Eden, Huntly, Timaru, Gore, Bluff, Port Chalmers, Lower Hutt, Granity, Motueka, Ohai, Devonport and Remuera.