Hard on the heels of becoming the first Freemasons lodge in New Zealand to celebrate 125 years, Dannevirke's Rawhiti Lodge No66 has made history again.

The lodge was the first in New Zealand to have held its monthly meeting in a marae when 50 people gathered at Dannevirke's Makirikiri Marae for the special event, which featured on Maori Television.

"It was a very unique event and very special," Worshipful Brother Paddy Driver, master of Rawhiti Lodge, told the Dannevirke News. "It was fantastic and I'm rapt."

Very Worshipful Brother Graeme Evans, District Grand Master, Ruahine Lodge (left) and Worshipful Brother Paddy Driver, Master, Rawhiti Lodge No66, at first Freemasons lodge. Photo / Christine McKay
Very Worshipful Brother Graeme Evans, District Grand Master, Ruahine Lodge (left) and Worshipful Brother Paddy Driver, Master, Rawhiti Lodge No66, at first Freemasons lodge. Photo / Christine McKay

Mr Driver said the special meeting, which included a ballot to nominate Clayton Locke as a new member of the lodge, to be inducted next month, showed many traditions and protocols of the lodge and the marae were similar.

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Fifteen Rawhiti Lodge members were joined by family and fellow members from other lodges for the official welcome on to the marae grounds, a first for many.

"Some of our people were scared about going onto the marae and what would be be expected of them, but they came away buzzing," Mr Driver said. "And to have this screened on national prime-time television was pretty special. As Freemasons we're not to be feared. We're just ordinary people doing good."

Inside the marae, chairs from the now defunct Ruahine Lodge in Woodville, and the police travelling Freemason's gavel, along with a mobile tessellated floor the same as that in King Solomon's Temple, turned the intricately carved meeting house into Rawhiti Lodge for the meeting

"The gavel had special significance for me as I was inducted into the lodge while a member of the police and the floor comes from my mother lodge which has since closed down," Mr Driver said.

Marae elder and lodge member Hepa Tatere said the first-ever marae lodge meeting was a further marriage between Freemasonry and Rangitane.

"You people are important and today this marae has benefited from something very special and this marae will survive because of you, the brethren who have the ability to share and encourage and develop," he said. "Paddy, without your enthusiasm, encouragement and interest in Te Reo, we would not be here today."

Mr Driver said Mr Tatere was instrumental in organising the historic meeting: "He was awesome."

Maori Television cameraman Wade Sawyer of Napier filmed inside the meeting house during the Rawhiti Lodge meeting while wives and family learnt more about the marae from Brian Paewai, principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Tamaki Nui-A-Rua.