The activities of Lodges in 2020 have been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the nation’s response thereto – difficult though it was for all New Zealanders during the Lockdown levels, it is now (more or less) back to normal for Lodges albeit with some short-term variances as a result of Covid-19.
As with all Districts, the Otago District’s installation programme was adversely impacted by the Lockdown, with seven installation meetings unable to be held at the normal timeframe. Now that we are a couple of months into Lockdown Level 1, the District is “back to normal” with only one Lodge deciding to dispense with the 2020 installation, with all officers remaining in office for another term.
On Saturday 4 July 2020, the Otago District held a unique installation ceremony where two Lodges (Hercules 36, Clinton 183) held their installation meetings at the same Lodge essentially at the same time. After quite a bit of “head scratching” and “navel contemplating”, the necessary dispensations were received to allow the joint installation meeting to occur.
As the Grand Master made quite clear, this occasion was a first for New Zealand [and perhaps internationally] and it will also be the last!! The ceremony involved a full Board for the installation of the Clinton Master [W Bro Alex Daumann] whereas the Hercules Master [W Bro Peter Rodger] was reinstalled for a consecutive term. The meeting involved numerous “calling off” and “calling on” instances but the Otago District Grand Master [V W Bro Alistair Smith] and the District Grand Director of Ceremonies [W Bro Angus Woodhead] managed the occasion with much dignity and professionalism – it is fair to say that there were plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong but overall, it was a generally flawless ceremony.
The picture above is (left to right) V W Bro Alistair Smith Dist GM Otago, W Bro Peter Rodger [Hercules Master], W Bro Alex Daumann [Clinton Master]
Not only was a double installation ceremony held on Saturday 4 July 2020 at Tapanui but that date represented the first occasion for the Otago District Grand Lodge officers to attend a meeting since the impact of Covid-19 affected Lodge installations and other ceremonies.
On behalf of the Grand Master, I took the opportunity to invest V W Bro Graeme Strang P Asst Prov GM to his new position and title of R W Bro Graeme Strang PGW. It had been intended to have the Grand Master undertake the investing at the proposed sesquicentennial celebration of The Cromwell Kilwinning Lodge 98 on 28 March 2020 but unfortunately Covid-19 Lockdown upset that Lodge’s celebrations and along with it, the investing of R W Bro Graeme as PGW.
R W Bro Graeme was initiated into Lodge Alexandra 403 on 3 May 1976; he was passed to the Fellowcraft Degree on 12 July 1976, and raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on 9 August 1976 [all before he reached the age of 30].
R W Bro Graeme was installed as Master of Lodge Alexandra 403 on 6 August 1983. His ability within Freemasonry was recognised when he first appointed to a Grand Lodge role in 1986, to the office of Grand Standard Bearer; he subsequently fulfilled the Grand Lodge offices of Grand Lecturer (1992-94) and Assistant Provincial Grand Master (1996-98).
Following the closure of Lodge Alexandra 403, R W Bro Graeme joined the St Bathans Lodge 126 in November 1996 where he has filled the offices of Assistant Secretary (1998-2002), Secretary (2002-12), and Treasurer (2015 – 20), following which he has assumed his current office of Secretary-Treasurer. R W Bro Graeme was a member of The Baden Powell Lodge 381 for almost three years until April 2007.
In addition to his Grand Lodge and St Bathans roles, R W Bro Graeme fulfilled the role of Southern Division Treasurer whilst the late R W Bro J S Harborow P Div GM was in active office; prior to the appointment of his Div Treasurer successor, R W Bro Graeme also provided good assistance to R W Bro R M Angelo Pres Bd GP when R W Bro Angelo commenced his Divisional Grand Master role.
R W Bro Graeme provided willing and great support and advice to me in my then role as the Otago Lakes District GM in particular and to the previous Dist GMs of the Otago Lakes District, and he continues to offer that support to our current Otago District Grand Master; his wise yet unassuming counsel can be relied upon at all times. He was a member of the “Otago District” Working Party (which comprised three Brethren from each of the Otago Lakes District and the Wickliffe District) and his experience as a member of the Provisional Grand Lodge teams as well as his experience in the subsequent District and Divisional teams was invaluable to the Working Party; the Working Party’s work resulted in the successful development of the Otago District.
In light of his service to his Lodges over the past 44 years and more particularly in light of his Grand Lodge service at Provincial, District, and Divisional levels since 1986 (almost 34 years), I was very pleased to announce on 4 July 2020 that V W Bro Graeme Strang P Asst Prov GM had been promoted to the position of Past Grand Warden.
The picture above is of RW Bro Graeme Strang PGW (left), and Pat Cooney Div GM
As part of the catch up of “missed” installations in the Otago District resultant from the Covid-19 Lockdown, Lodge Manuherikia Kilwinning 109 held its installation meeting on Saturday 18 July 2020, when W Bro Donny MacLeod “handed over the reins” for W Bro John Gilroy who was installed by V W Bro Alistair Smith Dist GM.
The opportunity was taken at the meeting to present, on the Grand Master’s behalf, the Roll of Honour to W Bro Ken Cook of the Lodge; it had been intended that the Grand Master would make the presentation as part of the proposed sesquicentennial celebrations for The Cromwell Kilwinning 98 but Covid-19 Lockdown upset those plans.
W Bro Cook was initiated in Lodge Manuherikia Kilwinning 109 on 16 October 2002, passed to the Fellowcraft Degree on 20 November 2002, and raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on 19 February 2003. Two months later, W Bro Ken commenced his journey to King Solomon’s Chair when he was invested as Inner Guard.
Following his progression annually through the various offices, W Bro Ken was installed as Master of Lodge Manuherikia Kilwinning 109 on 15 April 2009. In April 2010, W Bro Ken assumed the office of Immediate Past Master and the following year, was invested as Treasurer for Lodge Manuherikia Kilwinning 109, an office he still holds [having just been reinvested for the ninth time]. Prior to his appointment as Treasurer, he acted as the Lodge’s auditor/reviewer and financial advisor, and fulfilled those roles for sister Lodges when required.
W Bro Ken has streamlined the account recording systems in both the Lodge and what was the Central Otago Mobility Scooter Scheme. He instigated the transformation of that scheme into what is now the Central Otago Freemasons Mobility Scooter Charitable Trust, of which he is not only a Trustee and currently the Chairman but in collaboration of the late R W Bro Jim Harborow P Div GM until very recently, manages the day to day organisation and placement of the 22 units belonging to the Trust at present.
During his 18 years as a member of the Craft, W Bro Ken has not only been a very active participant in our fraternity but has also continued to devote considerable time supporting other organisations within the community. As a retired Chartered Accountant, he has used his professional skills and his voluntary time to advise, act as auditor, act as treasurer and secretary for his Church and a number of smaller clubs and groups.
In the past, he has been an active member of Rotary, having been Club President, co-convener of the Club’s major fundraiser (The Annual Book Sale) for many years, organised outings for Senior Citizens and for Alzheimer Sufferers living with families. For his efforts, he was presented with the prestigious “Paul Harris Fellow” award and made an honorary member of the Club. He is a Trustee of The Vince Ashworth Trust that gives aid to those youth who come from a disadvantaged background. He was a dedicated St John supporter, driving the St John Shuttle bus between Dunstan Hospital (Clyde) and Dunedin for a number of years
In addition to what has been stated, W Bro Cook has to be admired as a dedicated family man whose own health is somewhat fragile. Unfortunately for the last decade and a half or so years, his wife has been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, in relation to which, for around five or so years, W Bro Ken made the return trip from Alexandra to Dunedin every Friday to be with her even though she may not have recognised him; he continues to visit and support his wife daily now that she is resident at the Ranui Home in Alexandra.
For the exemplary and meritorious service to Freemasonry, and to his family and to the wider community in which W Bro Cook resides, it was very pleasing that the Grand Master approved that W Bro Ken Cook be enrolled on the Freemasons New Zealand Grand Lodge Roll of Honour. It afforded me extra pleasure to be able to invest W Bro Ken with his Roll of Honour as our respective mother Lodge is Lodge Manuherikia Kilwinning 109.
Pictured above: W Bro Ken Cook RH, Pat Cooney Div GM (with the top of the Deacon’s wand appearing to protrude from his head!!)