Kirkpatrick House was started in 1926 as a result of a bequest from the Estate of the late Samuel Kirkpatrick. At the time of his death in 1925 W Bro Kirkpatrick was managing director of S Kirkpatrick & Co canning and jam factory in Nelson, and held the rank of Past Deputy District Grand Master for the Westland Nelson District of the United Grand Lodge of England.
Under the terms of his will the remainder of his considerable estate was to be used to fund a residential home to support and educate the daughters of deceased masons. The home was to be established in his residence in Mount Street. The Public Trustee is responsible for the Estate assets and a Board of Governors comprising representatives of Southern Star Lodge, Trafalgar Royal Arch Chapter and representatives of the four constitutions operating in New Zealand manage the trust. Over the years, changes have been made to the terms under which girls will be accepted, and they have been widened to include girls from broken marriages and dysfunctional families. Girls must be sponsored by a Masonic Lodge.
Kirkpatrick House originally catered for up to 22 girls at one time, and hundreds have passed through its portals. A change of Government policy saw subsidies for this type of home withdrawn in 1991 and the Board had to reappraise its operations. After consultation with the Public Trustee the Board ceased to operate the boarding establishment and the girls were placed as boarders at Nelson College for Girls
While originally taking girls from ages 6 to 16, the Trust now takes them from year 7 through to year 13. Girls are provided with clothes, school uniform, educational aids, other requirements and pocket money. They are encouraged to participate in school activities and develop any special talents. The cost per girl is in the order of $15,000 per year.
Over the past 30 years alone, nearly 50 girls from virtually every Lodge District in the Country have been accommodated by Kirkpatrick House. In all, some 400 young women have received the benefit of the House’s support.
The Public Trust manages the investments from Kirkpatrick’s estate and the Trust receives the income. The Trust also has income from bequests received over the last 90 years. The income from these two sources, together with donations from Lodges was sufficient to cover the cost of eight girls per year, but the current low rate of return on investments has meant that that number has had to be reduced to four in the meantime.