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about Freemasonry

About Freemasonry

Find Answers to
Common Questions


Freemasonry is a diverse and complex organization. It is very old, its origins lost in time. The first written evidence of its existence is dated from England in the 14th century. The Grand Lodge of England was formed by five Lodges in London in 1717. Grand Lodges were formed in Scotland and Ireland in the years following.

Freemasonry subsequently spread around the world with the growth of the British Empire.

It is accepted that its origins stem from the ‘Lodges’ of stonemasons attached to the building of castles and cathedrals in medieval times. But the reasons behind the rise of Freemasonry in the general population later are generally attributed to the changes in society at the time of the enlightenment with the growth of secularism, the scientific age and the recognition of the rights of the individual.  

And in New Zealand?

Freemasonry came to New Zealand with the early settlers, the first Lodge being formed in 1842, and most towns soon had a Lodge.

The Grand Lodge of New Zealand, also known as Freemasons New Zealand, was formed in 1890.

The early 1970’s saw the peak of New Zealand membership, attributed to an influx of ex-servicemen after World War Two.  Today there are 7000 Freemasons in 255 (?) Lodges in New Zealand.


So what is Freemasonry? A quick answer is difficult to give because Freemasonry has many aspects of equal importance amongst which are fellowship, a philosophy of life, personal development, and benevolence.

In a nutshell it can be confidently said that:

‘Freemasonry  is a brotherhood of good men meeting and working in harmony, teaching strong moral  and ethical  values in personal, family and community behavior and  a code of caring for others’

And it could be shortened, as Bro Mozart put it, to:

‘Those who are working for the enlightenment and well-being of  their neighbours – striving for the triumph of good’

In the never-ending quest to define: Freemasonry one expression is often used, which is an inadequate attempt to create a ‘sound-bite’;

‘Freemasonry takes good men and makes them better men’ 

Freemasonry is founded upon principles of tolerance, care, kindness, honesty and trust. These are timeless values that are as relevant to the world today as they were 300 years ago when the organisation was established.

The principle aim of Freemasonry is the promotion of universal and lasting happiness for all people.

Freemasonry is not a secret society.

Its workings and finances are on public record.  But there are some traditional symbolic elements members are asked to keep confidential

Freemasonry has a registered charity. It does significant charitable work in the community but charity is just one part of  the teachings of Freemasonry.

Freemasonry is not a benefit society. But the deep caring principle in Freemasonry is applied to it’s members as well as the community as a whole

Freemasonry is not a religion or sect. Men of all faiths are welcome to join but Freemasonry does not allow the discussion of religion or politics in its meetings as a means of maintaining harmony amongst all members.

Freemasonry is not a networking organisation

Using Lodge membership to promote your own, or anyone else’s business, professional or personal interests is strongly discouraged.


A Lodge is a group of Freemasons usually between 30 and 80 drawn together by location, or interest. Meetings are usually held monthly in a dedicated building for the purpose. The most senior position in the Lodge is the Master who is supported by a group of Officers in running the Lodge and conducting the ceremonies.

What happens in a lodge?

Meetings have a formal Masonic structure conducting the same administrative business as any club. But uniquely the major part of most meetings is the processing of new members. This is done in a series of ceremonies, all new members experience, to reach full membership and become Master Masons. The ceremonies are the means of teaching the history and principles of Freemasonry.

Other matters at meetings include the charity and social activities of the Lodge. 

Lodge buildings are clearly apparent in their communities but why do some look so ‘closed’ and uninviting?

The rituals and most ceremonies are confidential  to members and many  buildings were built decades ago, when brethren were encouraged to maintain a stricter privacy than is the case now.

Masonic building design follows no set architectural style. They vary from the classic stonework and timber of the 19th Century to utilitarian glass and steel of today and all in between.

Can the public visit a Lodge room?

In a word, yes! Although Lodges buildings are private property mainly used by Freemasons for meetings, some Lodges make parts of their premises available to community groups for activities such as health and fitness, dance lessons, and arts and crafts. Occasionally Lodges may hold meetings in their Lodgerooms for those interested in joining Freemasonry.


A Freemasons first masonic commitment is to attend the regular meetings of his Lodge. If he has ambitions to become the Master he will need to become an officer of the Lodge and for that he needs to become practiced in its ceremonies and customs.  In turn this requires attendance and participation in the more frequent ‘instruction’ meetings.

Visiting other Lodges is a well ingrained activity in which Lodges universally engage to build and widen fraternal associations and friendships.   A member would usually accompany his Master though he may make visits independently.

All Lodges have an active  social life both within and outside the Lodge in which wives, partners and families are frequently involved.

Charitable activities can include both attendance and other involvement.



Freemasonry induces a strong bond between members and produces life-long friendships. You will enjoy mixing and working with men of high integrity and strong principle.


An essential element of Freemasonry is the care and needs of your Brothers and the whole community. All Freemasons promise to be aware of the needs of those around them.


A Lodge provides opportunities in organization management, public speaking and is character-building.

Life balance

In the 21st Century life can be hectic and stressful.

Freemasonry is seen by many to be an oasis where calm and order prevail, therefore providing a distinct and refreshing channel where a busy man can find diversion and relaxation.


Most Lodges offer social programmes providing opportunities for wives and families to widen their social engagement with other families with a common interest. 


Freemasonry accepts all men of good character.  There are very few limitations but there are some important exceptions.

21 years is the minimum age – except sons of Freemasons who can join at 18. There is no upper age limit.

Men of all faiths are accepted and all candidates must be able to declare a belief in a Supreme Being.

You must be an upright and law-abiding citizen and able to afford the modest fees without detriment to you family or livelihood.

Most Lodges ask prospective members for character references.


What part does charity play in Freemasonry?
Benevolence and helping those in need is a cornerstone of Freemasonry encouraged in every member. Freemasons have been involved in charitable activities since Masonic Lodges were first established in New Zealand. It is a major motivation for many to join the organization.
What is The Freemasons Charity?

The Freemasons Charity is a registered charitable Trust and the charitable arm of our national body, Freemasons New Zealand.

The Freemasons Charity acts on a national basis having two parts to its activities. One is the programme it runs on behalf of all New Zealand Freemasons for the benefit of the community as a whole.                               

Major activities include :

  • The Freemsasons University scholarships

the largest privately-funded university scholarship programme in New Zealand.

  • Assistance for The University of Auckland’s research programmes into brain diseases, geriatric medicine and ophthalmology.
  • Funding The Royal Society of New Zealand’ s promotion of science in secondary schools.
  • Providing research Fellowships in paediatrics at The University of Otago

There are many others.

The Freemasons Charity activity also provides support for Lodges and Masonic Districts throughout the country for their own local projects of giving, and provides assistance for individuals in need.

Community causes are chosen locally and vary widely  - health care, education, children’s groups, senior citizens, and many others. 

Where does the money for charity come from?

Unlike many other charities Freemasons do not ask the public for funds.  All Masonic giving comes from internal resources through members voluntary  and  accumulated donations  over many years.

To further identify the Freemasons Charity succinctly we use the words  -  ‘a tradition of caring’


There are many Masonic Trusts

Within Freemasonry there are many other registered charitable Trusts which have formed over the years for specific purposes. For instance, the Freemasons Foundation in Auckland was founded on the provision of care of the elderly at the former Mt Roskill Masonic Village.

The Potter Masonic Trust, dedicated to children’s needs, originated from the bequest of a wealthy Freemason over 80 years ago. Both are very substantial and active. Many others are regional and very localised based on individual Lodges or groups of Lodges.

Some are providing housing for the elderly, many are caring for local communities in small but important ways.
What is the total extent of Freemasons charity?

The total value of United States Freemasons giving each year is in the vicinity of 10 million dollars.

What is the Acacia Society?

The Acacia Society is administered by The Freemasons Charity and recognises those Freemasons who have made a bequest in favour of The Freemasons Charity. While some Freemasons prefer to remain anonymous, others are comfortable wearing a small Acacia pin to signify their bequest. The Acacia Society assures a member that their contribution will continue to support the masonic principles that they, as a Freemason, endorsed in life.

Why is charity so important to us?

Benevolence is part of our philosophy and liberal views. It shows that Freemasons value people and their rights , have a tradition of caring and trust, tolerate diversity and encourage learning and advancement.


How do women fit into Freemasonry?

From its beginnings centuries ago Freemasonry has always been a fraternal organization and despite the vast changes in society the organization, around the world, has remained so.


Lodges take particular care when accepting new members to ensure wives and partners understand the nature, age, traditional essence and meaning of Freemasonry.

Wives and partners may support their men’s membership if they wish, by participating in Lodge life through friendships formed with other Lodge families, through charity matters and in the active social life of the Lodge.


Freemasonry teaches that a members Masonic duties come only after his commitments first to his family and then to his work.

Wives, partners and families are welcomed by


Can women become Freemasons?

The Order of the Eastern Star, an international Masonic-styled organisation for women, started by a Freemason in the United States, operates in New Zealand.

Freemasonry cares for Lodge widows

All Lodges are especially called to care for the widows of members as part of their charitable duties. First to ensure they are properly provided for and further to keep in contact through social occasions and seasonal  entertainment.

The Freemasons Charity provides further assistance to Lodges for the care of their Widows