In the early 1920’s Paraparaumu was a small, tight-knit community based on farming, fishing and timber milling. Rail was the only viable method of conveying goods to market. Roads were dirt tracks and the usual mode of transport were horse or horse and cart, vehicles being an exception. Access to and from Wellington by road was via Waterfall Road to Mackay’s Crossing then over the Paekakariki Hill and through Pauatahanui to Paremata and on to Wellington. But we digress.
The first meeting of Lodge Tawera–O–Kapiti No 253 took place at a house in Raumati Beach on the 17th of February 1923. The name *Tawera-O-Kapiti* was agreed as it represented the “Star over Kapiti”. Lodge meetings took take place on the evening nearest the full moon each month. The light of the moon being an aid to travel to Lodge meetings. This means we meet on the third Tuesday of each month.
The Lodge was Constituted and Consecrated on 24 July 1923. As with many other Lodges the meetings for the first 7 years were held in the Church hall adjacent to St Paul’s Anglican Church, which at the time was situated in Hinemoa Street. Land was eventually purchased in Tararua Street and the Lodge Tawera-O- Kapiti building was erected there.
During the course of the four decades, after Lodge Tawera-O-Kapiti was formed, much had changed in the Kapiti District. It had moved from a rural outpost to an established community with its own shopping mall the first in New Zealand to trade on the weekend. The number of permanent residents had markedly increased, particularly for the senior members of society, who figured the climate on the Coast was a significant improvement on that of Wellington City.
The Lodge became an integral part of the local community with many of its members being involved with local businesses or local body affairs. Membership started with 23 and by the early 1990’s reached peak membership at around 140. Since then numbers have declined to around 40, unfortunately reflecting the national trend.
One of the more momentous events for Lodge Tawera-O-Kapiti occurred in October 1987. The story goes that some local lads ran out of alcoholic beverages and decided that the Lodge would be a good source of their favourite brew. Having broken in once they returned a second time, but this time decided they needed warming up – and in so doing set fire to the Lodge premises. Thankfully it was saved by the local volunteer fire brigade of which our own W Bro Bill Brazier was the Fire Chief.
Although the building avoided total destruction it was still in bad shape and not fit for normal use. Lodge Waikanae stepped in and Lodge Tawera-O-Kapiti meetings were held at their premises until appropriate repairs were affected. Upon our return to meeting at our Lodge, there remained burn marks on the floor – a constant reminder of this tragic event.
The Lodge’s Charter thankfully survived the heat and water. And today is framed to preserve its very delicate state.
By turn of the century it was becoming clear that with the decline in membership it was uneconomical to stay in our Paraparaumu premises. Talks amongst the brethren of the district – notably Lodge Tawera-O-Kapiti and Lodge Waikanae, resulted in a proposal to sell both the local Lodge properties. The one owned by Lodge Tawera-O-Kapiti No 253 and the second by Lodge Waikanae No 433 in Te Moana Road, Waikanae.
A search commenced for a suitable building for use by both Lodges at a convenient location on the Coast. Additionally, it was considered advantageous to have a commercial element to the property by way of rental space to contribute to building operating costs. Such was found in Waikanae at 16 Mahara Place.
After considerable upgrade and alteration to the building, the Lodgeroom was Dedicated by the Grand Master, MW Bro John W Litton, a member of Lodge Waikanae, on 15 February 2014 and has been in use by both Lodges ever since. With the purchase of the property in Waikanae by the Kapiti Freemasons Centre Limited the Tararua Street Lodgerooms were sold in 2014 and are now occupied by a pre-school kindergarten.