Nelson – Lazar Lodge No 1689


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Lazar meets on the second Monday in the months of February, March, October and November, tyling at 6pm. The Lodge is a Dining Lodge and business is restricted to formalities except for the installation meeting in March. The regular meetings normally take about forty-five minutes and brethren and their partners then have a meal in a neighbourhood restaurant. The installation meeting takes about 90 minutes.  A guest speaker is generally arranged to speak to partners while the meeting is in progress.  Visitors are welcome but should advise the WM or Secretary if they wish to dine.


Lazar Lodge was originally formed in Kumara. At the time of its inception the town was quite a flourishing mining centre, and during the gold rush men of all nationalities assembled there to seek the elusive metal. It was only natural to find Masons among those who concentrated in this locality. In 1876 some of these brethren were called together, and, after a few preliminary meetings were held, it was decided to form a Lodge. At the beginning of 1877, the decision became an established fact, and dispensation was duly received from the Rt. Wor. the D.G.M.

On August 21st 1877, the Grand Lodge Charter arrived from England, and the Brethren commenced in real earnest to justify their claim for such a warrant. For several years the Lodge carried on in a very prosperous manner. It cannot be gainsaid that those early members had Masonry at heart. This is borne out by the fact that in some cases Brethren had to walk, or ride on horseback a distance of up to 50 miles to attend a regular meeting and a perusal of the minute book discloses well attended meetings.

The population of Kumara was very cosmopolitan in those days and it was only to be expected that Masonry would and did attract a good many to its fold. We find the majority of European nations well represented in the Lodge, and all met as true Masons on the square. This is sufficient proof that Masonry is fostering and cementing brotherly love. The fraternal feeling which existed among those early Brethren was no doubt of a very high order, and had the tendency to make the town and district a better place to live in. Unfortunately, the gold rush came to an end, and most of the Brethren were forced to leave and seek a livelihood elsewhere. It was at this stage that Lazar Lodge suffered to some extent, but nevertheless the few that remained did not lose heart but persisted in the attempt to keep the flag flying. It must surely have been a hard struggle for those Brethren, and we can well imagine how sad their feelings must have been when in 1912, the Charter was transferred to Greymouth.

(The above is an extract from “A Chronicle of the Foundation and Progress of the Lazar Lodge 1689” published in 1927 to mark its 50th anniversary)

The Lodge continued to meet in Greymouth until 1960 when it transferred its meeting place to Runanga. In 1972 it transferred back to Greymouth. In 1997 a declining and ageing membership led to a decision to shift the meeting place to Nelson to operate as a Dining Lodge. The last meeting in Greymouth was the installation meeting in March 1998. The Lodge now meets in the early evening in the months of February, March, October and November. After the meeting members and their partners retire to a nearby restaurant for their evening meal.


The Grand Lodge of England established a District Grand Lodge of Westland at Hokitika in 1870 and Rt. Wor. Bro. John Lazar, born in Edinburgh in 1803a native of and of Jewish parents was its first DGM. This distinguished Brother held high Masonic rank in Otago prior to his departure for the West Coast which was practically unexplored and could not boast of any great population. Throughout his life his family, he and Mrs.Lazar had ten children, and the family was extremely devoted to the Jewish faith, with Lazar taking leading roles in his congregations.

Rt. Wor Bro. Lazar held good positions in South Australia. An alderman and Mayor of Adelaide for three years (1855 – 1858) and owned and managed theatres in both Sydney and Adelaide. He was Deputy District Grand Master South Australia English Constitution.. He was, like many more, attracted to New Zealand in the early days of the Otago goldrush and soon after threaded his way to Hokitika. Shortly after his arrival he was appointed the first Town Clerk of Hokitika. He was always connected with Masonic institutions and was an outstanding figure in the craft, being recognised as the most fluent ritualist, a great linguist and a most loveable and esteemed Brother. He possessed a marvellous memory for it is stated that after once reading a page of any newspaper he could repeat it word for word. On June 6th1879, Masonry received a severe blow when it pleased the Almighty to summon Rt. Wor Bro. John Lazar – then in his 79th year – to the Grand Lodge above. Owing to his generous nature he died a poor man and members of the craft with one accord united in defraying the cost of his burial. A Masonic funeral was accorded to our beloved first DGM and Brethren from all parts of the district joined in paying the last sad tribute to departed merit. A very prominent and well maintained monument stands over his grave, depicting his attachment to freemasonry, and is on the left as you enter Hokitika cemetery, placed in the Jewish section.

John Lazar