The Origins of the Lodge
The Lodge of Otago No 844, in its published history, outlined the conditions existing in Otago at the time of the erection of the early Lodges and the practice of Freemasonry in Dunedin . There is no doubt but that the discovery of gold in Otago brought a great influx of miners, speculators and settlers, and amongst them a proportionate number of Freemasons from Australia and the old country, as well as a sprinkling of such men from America and Canada. The establishment of the Lodge of Otago No 1146 (844) under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England on 8th August 1960 and of Otago Kilwinning Lodge No 417, under the Grand Lodge of Scotland on 17th June 1861, stimulated a desire for the erection of further Lodges.
With such an object in view the following advertisement appeared in the Otago Daily Times of the 16th April 1862 : “A Meeting of the Fraternity will be held in the Shamrock Hotel, Thursday evening, the 17th instant at eight o’clock , for the purpose of establishing a new Lodge in Dunedin . A numerous attendance is requested.”
At this meeting it was decided that the time was opportune to form another Lodge under the Grand Lodge of England, to be called “The Dunedin Lodge”. Steps were taken to prepare the necessary petition, which having been drawn up and signed was submitted to a further meeting convened by Benjamin F Duncan, as Secretary, and held in the Shamrock Hotel on 1st May. The Petition, together with a request for a dispensation to open the Lodge until authority had been obtained from England , was forwarded to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Victoria at Melbourne .
Rt. Wor. Bro Captain Frederick C Standish granted the necessary authority of Dispensation under the date 16th July 1862 and the following notice appeared in The Otago Daily Times on Saturday 2ndAugust 1862 :
“MASONIC NOTICE; DUNEDIN LODGE
An emergency meeting of the above Lodge will be held at the Shamrock Hotel at half past seven this evening for the purpose of installing the Master Elect. 2nd August 1862″
It is presumed that the Master was installed that evening but that the Officers were not invested until the 15th August and the Lodge dedicated on that date. This, the 15th, is the particular date recorded in the Books of Grand Lodge and accepted as the date of establishment.
The earliest Appearance Book has its first page dated 2nd December 1862, endorsed “Consecration Meeting” and from this it is assumed that the Warrant must have arrived from England. The original number of the Lodge was 1233 but when lodges were renumbered in 1863 the number was changed to 931. The earlier number is now that of Greymouth Lodge. The first minute book and the record of meetings prior to 2nd December 1862 were destroyed by fire in 1881.
(The above information is taken from Rt. Wor. Bro. E W Pickford’s booklet
“Over One Hundred Years Of Challenge”)