The masonic hall in McKillop Street in Porirua, Wellington is home to two ‘Blue’ Lodges – being Mana No. 352 and Windsor No. 377. A third, Lodge Parirua No. 423 has handed back their charter and closed. both the Brooklyn and Wellington Chapters of the ‘Royal Arch’ and an Order Of The Eastern Star lodge. The hall is now referred too as the ‘McKillop Street Masonic Centre’, however it’s still often called ‘Windana Hall’ by the brethren as it’s a combination of the names of the two owners – Lodge Mana and Lodge Windsor.
Finding Suitable Accomodation
Since Lodge Mana was lawfully constituted in 1949, the meetings were being conducted in a small local hall in Paremata. The first mention of the possible purchase of a suitable site to build our own Lodge rooms was during a Standing Committee meeting held on the 14th March 1951. The suggested area was part of ‘Bradley Estate’ however it is believed that this land was required by the Education Dept. for Paremata School. There is no further records on this discussion.
The next reference to a suitable site was made in the minutes of a Standing Committee meeting held on 13th October 1953 when it was decided that inquires be made to the Housing Dept. concerning the purchase of a section in McKillop Street in Porirua (East). Negotiations were still proceeding in 1955 but there were delays in obtaining a title due to local development work.
In 1956 another possibly arose – to purchase a section of a Mrs. H.Riggir in Paremata. However, this section was below road level and would have required a lot of fill and therefore this idea was abandoned. It was later discovered that this section and another close by were required to local roading works.
Finally, a decision was made in 1957 to proceed with the McKillop Street section. A Building & Finance Committee having already been set up under the Chairmanship of Bro.’s J.Collins & B.Harvey respectively.
In 1959 it was discussed having a joint venue with Lodge Windsor No.377 but at this stage they were contemplating building their own Lodge rooms.
At a special Emergency Meeting held on the 22nd March 1960, it was decided that the section in McKillop Street be purchased on a long term basis of 20 years. It was also decided that the plans and specifications be drawn up by the architect, Bro. J.Craig be adopted, subject to Grand Lodge and Makara Country Council approval. At the December meeting of that year it was resolved to accept the tender of W.Bro. S.Powell for the erection of the exterior of the building, the steel work frames already been procured and assembled by Bro. J.Collins.
The foundation stone was placed on Saturday 27th May 1961 and was presided over by now Master of the Lodge W.Bro. J.Collins which was appropriate as not only was he the current Master but was also Lodge Mana’s first initiate. Brethren and visitors assembled in St. Annes Parish Hall in McKillop Street when the Lodge was opened in due form by the Master. The dispensation to appear in public clothes in badges of the order having been read by the Secretary, R.W.Bro. F.W.Pringle (Prov.G.M.) accompanied by other Grand Lodge Officers, were received with due honours.
The Lodge having been adjourned by the Prov.G.M., the brethren walked in procession to the site where the Prov.G.M. accompanied by various brethren, laid the stone according to established ceremony and custom.
Deposited in the container behind the stone were the following items:
- The Constitution programme of Lodge Mana
- 1960 & 1961 Installation Programme
- May 1961 copy of “NZ Craftsman”
- “Evening Post” of 26th May 1961
- Coins of the realm
Before the Lodge rooms were Officially Opened, Lodge Windsor No.377 became a half-owner in the site, in 1962, with the ‘Windana Hall Company’ being formed.
The Official Opening of the ‘Windana Hall’ Lodge rooms took place on Saturday 16th November 1963, with the ceremony being conducted by the Prov.G.M., R.W.Bro. F.W.Pringle.
Lodge Parirua No.423 was formed in 1963 and became a tenant of the lodge rooms. The Brooklyn Chapter of the ‘Royal Arch’ became a tenant in 1972.
The Roof is on Fire!
No significant events, associated with Windana Hall have occured for over 20 years, until late 2001. In October of 2001 the roof of the Hall caught fire, under mysterious circumstances. A report from local fire officials indicated that the cause of the fire was most likely fireworks. Whether the damage was intentional or accidential is not known. While the Hall was out of commission, Lodge Mana meetings were held on the top floor of the RSA hall, located next door. The manager of the RSA (a fellow brother) was most accomodating of Lodge Mana and it is was appreciated by the members. Although some items were lost in the fire, there was much to gain. Due to the damage, under insurance, the lodge rooms got a brand new roof and much of the entry/crush area was recarpeted. This gave the rooms a much needed “lift”.
Shortly after the repairs were made to the building due to the fire, the ‘Windana Hall Company’ agreed to refer to the building as the ‘McKillop Street Masonic Centre’ and a new sign was erected on the front of the building.
Earthquakes and Future Decisions
Due to the significant Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, the cost for Lodge’s to insure their buildings skyrocketed – in many cases they doubled. In late 2011, the Kapiti-Wellington (Dist. 19) District Grand Master, V.W.Bro. Jim L. Watt commenced a programme, to look into the lodge buildings in the district. The primary aim of this programme is for Lodge’s to sell their existing property assets and combine all of the funds to construct a new commercial building. This building will have facilities for all of the contributing Lodge’s and have commercial tenants, essentially making the development self funding. Similar programmes had been run successfully elsewhere around the country. The committee members of the ‘Windana Hall Company’ is supportive of this idea and although it will be a shame to say goodbye to a building that had served Lodge Mana, Lodge Windsor and other tenants (both Masonic and local) well, the ‘Windana Hall Company’ committee also acknowledges the need to move forward.