Excerpts from Whare Ra Wikipedia:
Whare Ra, is the name of the building which housed the New Zealand branch of the Order of the Stella Matutina. It was designed and made by one of New Zealand’s most famous architects, and a senior member of the Order, James Walter Chapman-Taylor.
Whare Ra and the Stella Matutina in New Zealand
The foundations for the Order in New Zealand were laid by Reginald Gardiner, born in New South Wales, Australia, son of an Anglican vicar and brother of the Anglican vicar of St Luke’s Church, Havelock North, who finally settled in New Zealand in 1907, settling in the village of Havelock North. He formed about him an artistic, cultural and spiritual group whose activities became known as the “Havelock Work“, and produced a publication called “The Forerunner”. The Havelock Work grew and in time the group became known as the Society of the Southern Cross.
In 1910, Revd. Father J. Fitzgerald travelled to New Zealand on Church business, and was introduced to the group. He was suitably impressed, and prior to his return to Britain, promised to stay in touch and to do what he could to help. In due course he wrote that if further progress were to be made, that certain people of his acquaintance would need to come out from England. In 1912 Dr. Robert Felkin, Chief of the Order of the Stella Matutina, arrived, assisted by his appointment as Inspector of the Australasian Colleges of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia by William Wynn Westcott, one of the original Chiefs of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Supreme Magus of the S.R.I.A.
Travelling with his wife and daughter, he initiated a group of members into the Order. A sizeable piece of land was donated, and a home for the Order constructed, which they named “Whare Ra”, or House of the Sun. It was in the basement of this house, that the large Temple was built. During their three month stay, sufficient members had been initiated to make a beginning, a trust had been set up to manage the monetary affairs of the Order, and the building commissioned and sufficiently advanced to enable its Consecration. Before leaving New Zealand to return to England, a Warrant was issued establishing the Smaragdum Thallasses Temple No. 49 of the Order of the Stella Matutina.
In 1916, at the invitation of the members of the New Zealand branch, and with the offer of life tenancy of “Whare Ra”, Dr Felkin and his family returned to New Zealand for good. He issued a new constitution for the Order of the Stella Matutina in the same year, informing members that the Mother Temple of the Order was now in New Zealand. The Order, governed by three ruling Chiefs, prospered under their leadership. By the time of the death of Dr Felkin in 1926, it had a very active membership and was well established – its membership included bishops, senior ranking military officers, members of Parliament, and local dignitaries and officials.
By 1978 it was clear that Whare Ra was a spent force. On 24 August 1978 a letter was circulated to members announcing the closure:
- “Dear Fratres and Sorores,
- This letter is addressed to all members of the Order of S.T., including members of the Second Order.
- It is with great great regret that we write to inform you that the Temple is closing and there will be no Vernal Equinox Ceremony.
- Those of you who have been present at recent Equinox Ceremonies will surely have been aware, not only of the lack of numbers, but also the lack of power, in the Temple. Those who have read their annual reports can scarcely have failed to notice that no new members have been admitted since 1975. Indeed there have been no grade ceremonies at all for the last two years or more. …”
Much to the regret of many esoteric historians they burnt most of the group’s regalia, Temple furnishings and records. Fortunately some things survived, including the Temple’s pillars, the two sphinxes which flanked either side of the dais steps, and many copies of the rituals and lectures were passed on and preserved.
Whare Ra is now in private hands, and has been registered as a category “I” protected building by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
- Golden Dawn Companion, R A Gilbert, Aquarian Press (1986), ISBN 0-85030-436-9
- Islands of the Dawn: The Story of Alternative Spirituality in New Zealand, Robert S. Ellwood, University of Hawaii Press (May 1993),ISBN 0-8248-1487-8
- James Walter Chapman-Taylor in the Hawkes Bay 1913-1922, Judy Siers, Hawkes Bay Cultural Trust (1991), ISBN 0-473-01211-1
- Havelock North The History of a Village, Mathew Wright, Hastings District Council (1996), ISBN 0-473-03962-1
- Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn, Pat Zalewski, Falcon Press (1988) ISBN 0-941404-65-X
- New Zealand Occult and Esoteric Fraternities, Roel van Leeuwen (March 2003), published athttp://www.templedarkmoon.com/nzoccult.htm