Freemasons set for celebration

Lake Lodge of Ophir Worshipful Master Martin Chappell with the commemorative plaque laid on the historic Marine Pde building in 2008. Photo supplied.
Lake Lodge of Ophir Worshipful Master Martin Chappell with the commemorative plaque laid on the historic Marine Pde building in 2008. Photo supplied.
High-ranking Freemasons from throughout New Zealand and Australia will descend on Queenstown this weekend to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Masonic fraternity in Queenstown.

Celebrations include a procession of Freemasons along Marine Pde to the reserve in front of Novotel Lakeside Hotelon Saturday, where New Zealand Grand Master John Litton, of Wellington, will unveil a special plaque dedicated to the occasion, with help from Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden.

Seating will also be donated to the community on the same spot where lodge members planted a commemorative pin oak tree 25 years ago, to mark the lodge's 125th anniversary.

Lake Lodge of Ophir secretary Brother Hudson Turnbull says representatives from New Zealand's Irish, Scottish and English Lodge constitutions will attend and a party of high-ranking Western Australian Freemasons is flying from Perth with their partners.

There will be a special anniversary afternoon meeting of Lake Lodge members in the historic Lodge rooms before an official reception led by Mr Litton, visiting Grand Lodge brethren, divisional and district Grand Masters and officers.

The local branch was constituted in 1864, when its charter arrived by ship from London after a year-long wait.

It now has about 40 members from around the world.

In 1863 early Wakatipu pioneers, including Queenstown's founder Welshman William Rees and Scottish stonemason James McNeill, marched along the waterfront of the fledgling town to mark the launch of the district's first lodge and, true to the traditions of Freemasonry, the men laid the first foundation of Queenstown's first stone building that day.

Past New Zealand Grand Chaplin Rev Graeme Munro will be guest preacher at a special service at St Peter's Anglican Church at 10.30am this Sunday.