What is Freemasonry?

The precise origins of Freemasonry have been lost in time. However its traditions date back to the Middle Ages and to the stonemasons who built the cathedrals and castles of Europe. To construct them, it was necessary for men to have considerable knowledge of geometry, arithmetic and engineering.  These highly skilled masons formed themselves into lodges to protect the skills and secrets of their trade and to pass their knowledge on to worthy apprentices. Importantly, these men were not bondsmen, hence the word "free" in Freemason.

By the 17th Century, when the building of castles and cathedrals diminished, Masonry began to lose its 'operative' aspects and worthy men who were not craftsmen were also accepted into its membership. It was from this time that Masons were known as 'free and accepted' Masons, as they continue to be known to this day.

Freemasonry has a wonderful history that dates back more than three centuries. It is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies. The following information may correct some common misconceptions:

Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Founded on the three great principles of  Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. It aims to bring together men of goodwill, regardless of background and differences. The essential qualification for admission into and continuing membership is a belief in a supreme being. Membership is open to men of any race or religion who can fulfil this essential qualification and who are of good repute.

Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. Its essential qualifications opens it to men of many religions and it expects them to continue to follow their own faith. Freemasonry does not allow religion to be discussed at its meetings.

Freemasonry is also non-political and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is also forbidden. Freemasons are constantly reminded to seek improvement in their daily lives and activities and to do more for society in general and particularly for the less fortunate within it.

Therefore from its earliest days, Freemasonry has been concerned with charity. Considerable contributions are made by 'New Zealand Freemasons Grand Lodge' to many worthy charities. Freemasons themselves raise these sums, as it has never been the practice to collect funds publicly. Individual Lodges also make donations directly.

Contrary to common belief, most of these charitable donations are made to non-Masonic organisations.

The Three Great Principles of Freemasonry:

Brotherly Love - Every  true Freemason  will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.

Relief - Freemasons are taught to practice charity, and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.

Truth - Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards, and aiming to achieve them in their own lives. Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.