Lodge No 1689

Meets at the Manchester Unity Rooms 30 Bridge Street NELSON

Meets 2nd Monday, February, October, November

Installation date 2nd Monday, March




The Grand Lodge of England established a District Grand Lodge of Westland at Hokitika in 1870 and RI. Wor. Bro. John Lazar, a native of Austrian Poland and Jewish parents was its first DGM. This distinguished Brother held high Masonic rank in Otago before his departure for the West Coast which was practically unexplored and could not boast of any great population.


Rt. Wor Bro. Lazar held good positions in South Australia and later in Melbourne. He was, like many more, attracted to New Zealand in the early days of the Otago gold rush 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 6 1879, Masonry received a severe blow when it pleased the Almighty to summon Rt Wor Bro. John Lazar - then in his 79" 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.


The Lazar Lodge was originally formed in Kumara, 28 kilometres from Hokitika. 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 the locality.


On the 9th of November 1876, some of these brethren were called together, at the Adeiphi Hotel, Kumara. W. Bro. Edward Ancher chaired the meeting. He had been the first W.M. of the Greymouth Lodge in 1868. After a few preliminary meetings were held, it was decided to form a Lodge, to meet in a newly constructed room owned by The Good Templars Hall Co. The Lodge was to be Kumara, but then changed to become Lazar Lodge at the instigation of Edward Ancher, this decision being made on 24 November 1876. At the beginning of 1877, the decision became an established fact, and dispensation was duly received from Rt.Wor District G.M. John Lazar. He consented to his name to be that of the Lodge.


It was resolved that the meetings would be monthly to be held on the Friday nearest the full moon. Initiation fees seven guineas, members' subscriptions.., for town members, one pound shillings, country member one pound per annum.


The consecration and installation were held on 18th January 1877. At that meeting 6 membership propositions were received. The prospects came from Russia, Prussia, England, Sweden and Germany. Then followed the full ceremony chaired by John Lazar, commencing at 3 pm. W. Bro. Ancher became the first W.M., and in fact, served two years in the chair. Fifty two masons attended, and following the first ceremonies, those six candidates were duly initiated. That ceremony was conducted by Deputy District G.M. Bevan and Past District G.S.W. Hudson. The Lodge closed in due and ancient form at 7/30pm. A very long day!

At the next regular meeting Bros. Lazar, Bevan, Eisfelder, Bramwell and Hudson were elected honorary members. The March meeting saw Richard John Seddon passed to the 2nd. Degree, (he had been struck off from Pacific Lodge 1229 for non-payment of dues).


On August 21" 1877 the Grand Lodge charter had arrived from England, and the brethren commenced in earnest to justify their claim for such a warrant. For several years the Lodge carried on in a very prosperous manner. It can be truly said 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, yet a perusal of the minute book discloses well attended meetings.


The Lazar Lodge moved to Nelson in 2000. It is a Dining Lodge and its refectory is open to wives, partners and friends. We currently meet at the Manchester Unity Rooms, 50 Bridge St, Nelson, and dine at Trailways in Trafalgar Street.  The members of the Lodge meet at 6 pm and all masons are welcome to attend. The members join their partners/wives at Trailways usually by 6.45 pm. (Installation meetings have slightly different times).


The Lazar Lodge only holds four meetings a year on the first Monday of February, March, October (Installation) and November.


Full Membership of the Lodge is open to all constitutions recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England. The Lodge does not perform initiation, passing and raising ceremonies but can make new Worshipful Masters, subject to the usual Book of Constitution rules.



This history contains extracts from ”John Lazar, Small in Stature Large in Life.” written by an ex Lazar member Doug Stapleton in 2012. (Self Published ) IBN: 978-0-473-21635-1