On the 28th of March, 1870 the first meeting of the founders of the Lodge of Light was held in the Salutation Hotel in Mary Street, Thames. Nine Brethren were present and they determined to erect a Lodge under the Irish Constitution and subsequently applied to the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro. GP Pierce for a dispensation and a Charter from the Grand Lodge of Ireland. Brother EH Power was chosen to be the first Master and Brother S Sam the first Secretary.
On the 27th April, 1870 in St. George’s Hall, Pollen Street, Thames the ceremony of consecration and dedication took place under the direction of RW Bro GP Pierce and his Provincial Grand Lodge Officers. Following the ceremony a religious service was held in St. George’s Church where the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Rev. Dr. Kidd LLD preached the sermon. The offertory was given to the Thames Hospital.
Thames township, or “The Thames” as it was often referred to is located on the southern shores of the Hauraki Gulf. European traders and missionaries began to settle in the area early in the nineteenth century drawn to it’s wealth of timber and it was not long before it was recognised that the geology would produce valuable minerals. The first major discovery of gold was made on August 10th 1867 by a prospector William Hunt, in a waterfall in the bed of the Kuranui Stream. This mine produced over 102,300 oz. bullion and was known as the Shotover.
The years from 1868 to 1871 were the bonanza years for the town. Official figures for gold production of the Thames Mines recorded a yield of 2,327,619 oz. bullion with a value of over 500 million pounds sterling. Towards the end of the nineteenth century Thames was the largest centre of population in New Zealand with 18,000 inhabitants and well over 100 hotels and three theatres. One can imagine how life must have been for the inhabitants of this gold mining town when the first Masonic Lodge, the Lodge of Light was born.
Today the Lodge has its own Lodgerooms with a community centre attached. It continues to work regularly and harmoniously, as it has always done. At the time of its 75th Anniversary celebrations in 1945 the membership stood at 98; today the numbers are much reduced but as the Lodge of Light No. 454 approaches its 150th Anniversary it looks to the future with optimism.