Lodge Maori and the Ravensbourne Post Office
An unusual pairing in a rather regular place. Ravensbourne, where the road and the rail cut through on the waterfront, taking people and things from Dunedin to Port Chalmers and back, lays ownership a very healthy standard portion of most normal small town New Zealand facilities. A school. A waterfront. A Rugby Club. Small businesses, a war memorial, a lookout and a park or three.
But slap bang in the middle of the town and the road and the rail are their king and queen, a gracious and oversized Post Office and a bigger and barefaced baby blue Masonic Lodge called Maori. A more odd couple may not be found anywhere except maybe on the New Zealand Coat of Arms, which this little scene brings to mind as a bizarre parallel.
Heritage New Zealand has listed the pair both as Category Two places, for different reasons, because although they have been cuddled up on the harbourside since 1912, they couldn't be more different.
They myth around the naming of the Lodge, is along the lines that the members of this newly formed branch (105), wanted to show some respect for local Iwi by giving their lodge a Maori language name but were so determined not to offend anyone, that the only word they all agreed upon was simply 'Maori'.
In 1912, The Ravensbourne Post Office went up right on the boundary, slightly set back from the road, and over-decorated, as if to compensate for the plainness of her sturdy and square neighbour. This Post Office was to the design of government architect John Campbell who was responsible for a plethora of similar structures around New Zealand. The little town must have been feeling rather bigger at the time, as both buildings are now a bit out of proportion with the town, but strangely in proportion with one another.
An empty Victorian tenement building on the other side of the Lodge looks out to the Harbour, like the bored spare wheel it has probably always been, while the modest and brooding concrete block volunteer Fire Station skulks low two doors down, it's rightful status likely slightly displaced by these caricatures in the community.
The spectacularly refurbished and redecorated Ravensbourne Store is just up the road too.
Laurence Aberhart's Masonic Lodge Photographs are at the Gow Langsford Gallery.