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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood

United Ancient Order of Druids

United Ancient Order of Druids.

The first Lodge in New Zealand, named the Pioneer, No. 47, was opened on April 22, 1876, at the Orange Hall, Worcester-street, Christchurch, by Past Arch Druid Bro. Solomons, of Melbourne, at that time residing at Dunedin. The Lodge page 94opened with sixty members, and the prominent men in starting the Society were Bros. Gaul, Tomson, Harris and Rouke. Bro. Oppenheim was the first District President of the Order, and Bro. W.E. Samuels, as treasurer, deserves great praise for the way he looked after the funds. In October, 1879, they could only muster thirty-seven financial members. The same month the Grand Secretary, Bro. J.J. Brenan, arrived in Christchurch for the purpose of opening two Lodges, the Hope of St. Albans and the Mistletoe Lodges; and the Order has rapidly progressed ever since through the exertions of some of the leading officers, conspicuous amongst them being Bros. Swinnerton, P.D.P., Willsteed, P.D.P., Rose, P.A., Hill, P.D.P., Skinner, P.D.P., Nathan, P.A., Ryan, P.A., Bailey, D.P., and last, but not least, Bro. D.G. Sutherland, P.D.P. P.D.P. means Past District President; P.A., Past Arch; D.P., District President.

P.D.P. Bro. Tomson has a depôt for supplying all the necessary regalia and books to the Lodges in Canterbury, and P.D.P. Bro. Willsteed is the Examining Officer of Lodge books with respect to funeral claims, &c. The Grand Secretary visited New Zealand in November, 1882, for the purpose of looking after the state of the various lodges, and for giving advice to the secretaries re keeping their books. According to the last annual report there are in New Zealand 44 lodges, with 2536 members, and funds amounting to £5326 17s. l0d. Since then five or six more lodges have been opened. There are eight districts in New Zealand, numbered respectively, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, and 27. The District Presidents in Canterbury are Bro. D.S. Sutherland, P.A., Mistletoe Lodge, Christchurch; Bro. J. Taylor, P.A. Lyttelton Heart of Oak Lodge, Lyttelton; Bro. G.W. Luxton, P.A., Bud of Hope Lodge, Rangiora; and Bro. G. Bishop, P.A., Star of Anglesea Lodge, Southbridge. In Nov. 1883, the advisability of forming a Grand Lodge of the Order in New Zealand was discussed at a meeting of delegates of the various U.A.O.D. Lodges in the Middle Island, held in the Terminus Hotel, Christchurch. At the conclusion of' the meeting the chairman presented P.D.P. Bro. Tomson, of the Pioneer Lodge, with a token of the esteem in which he was held by the local members of the Order. It was a valuable gold albert chain with a locket attached. On the latter was the following inscription:—“To P.D.P. Bro. C. Tomson, of the Pioneer Lodge, from members of the 13th District U.A.O.D., November, 1883.”

It is worthy of note that, according to the report of the special meeting of the Grand Lodge of Australia, held on page 95July 3, 1881, at the Trades' Hall, Victoria-street, Melbourne, the list of the winners of prizes at the great Druids' Gala included four New Zealand names, one Christchurch, one Dunedin, one Auckland, and one Wellington, not a bad proportion out of fifty prize winners. For this gala 36,583 tickets were sold, and with an expenditure of over £1000 in prizes, music and all the etceteras incidental to such affairs, there was still nearly £900 to the credit side of the account. The handsome sum of £75 was subsequently donated to various Victorian charities.