The 2016 OMCT Grants Awards


The afternoon of Sunday, June 12, marked the presentation of this year’s Otago Masonic Charitable Trust (OMCT) awards to many worthy recipients.  $65,831 was distributed among Otago’s laudable charities and community organisations, without whose caring existence the Province would be a much poorer place.  In addition 240,000 dollars (NZD) of funding was provided in the form of fellowships and scholarships to several achievers within medical research encompassed by the University of Otago and, on the arts front, the furtherance of art education within the Dunedin School of Art.  A pledge of $35,000 was also made towards the Dunedin Physio Pool Restoration Project community fund.  Thus the total donated this year comfortably exceeded $340,000, and the OMCT feels justly proud of being able to assist not only the people of Otago but, through the as yet to be recognised advances in medical research, New Zealand as a whole.

The well-attended function skipped along with several witty speakers providing levity.

A considerable number of key personalities were also in evidence, in the form of Monsignor John Harrison, representing the Catholic Bishop of Dunedin; the Hon. Michael Woodhouse, Minister for Immigration; Dr David Clark MP and Claire Curran MPProfessor Dawn Elder, Head of Paediatrics & Child Heath, University of Otago; Professor Leoni Schmidt, Head of the Dunedin School of Art and Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith, University of Otago; to name just some, all of whom added lustre to the occasion.  Event organiser, and Secretary of the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust, Grant Watson mischievously informed us; “The event usually appears to go well on-the-day but that is fairly deceptive, as to me, it often seems to mimic the proverbial swan on the river – the whole affair gliding serenely along, but with the organisers paddling furiously under the surface!”

Nevertheless, from the smallest to the largest, the recipients could not have been happier.  To use the University’s Chair of Paediatrics as an example: this branch of the University has now received almost three million dollars from our Trust in recent years; a sum that has bolstered the Department of Paediatrics’ effectiveness considerably.  Only time will tell how their sector-leading medical research might benefit the world as a whole.

The afternoon of presentations concluded with drinks and finger food in the Dunedin Freemasons’ Club Rooms.  I would say that the laughter and general joie de vivre provide a fair yard-stick by which to measure a day of profit and pleasure all round.


Steve Walker, Chair of the Port Chalmers’ Community Board, presents bursary winner Alice Morrison with her acknowledgement certificate as this year’s recipient of the 5,000 dollar Port Chalmers Marine Lodge Bursary.



President of St. Kilda Bowling Club, Elmay Acklin, gratefully thanked the OMCT for their donation of $800 for towards the cost of replacing the plinth boards around their bowling green.  Elmay is pictured collecting the grant from Councillor Andrew Noone, who represented Dunedin City Council at the awards.


MacAndrew Bay Scout Group representative, Hannah Lawrence, was delighted to receive a 2,500 dollar donation toward outdoor cooking equipment for the group.  Hannah collected the grant from Cllr Andrew Noone.



The staff of Warrington Play Centre were most grateful to receive funding toward a new nappy changing table.  The device is expensive and outside the centre’s means.  Samantha Diprose is pictured receiving the grant from Cllr Andrew Noone.


Orokonui Bird Sanctuary Director, Christine Baillie, was fulsome in her praise for the $2,590 grant that she obtained from the OMCT.  This funding enabled the sanctuary to purchase a large water tank to ensure that the high country has an all-year-round water supply. Councillor Andrew Noone does the honours.


Diabetes NZ-Otago representative, Gwenda Farquarson, was very grateful to receive a Grant
for the purchase of a computerised image projector for educational purposes.  Gwenda thanked the OMCT and addressed the audience, informing them that the Region
would benefit enormously from the use of the projector to better inform the populace regarding this debilitating, yet too common, disease. Councillor Andrew Noone presented the cheque.


Brockville Community Church received a $1,950 donation to purchase musical instruments. The church runs an initiative to teach disabled and disadvantaged young people music and performance art.  Music Teacher Julie Fern collected the grant from DCC Cllr Andrew Noone.



Another deserving charity that the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust is proud to support is the Dunedin Night Shelter, who do outstanding unsung work within the community.  The shelter needed a lawnmower and the OMCT was pleased to assist.  Keith Harris received the cheque from Councillor Noone.


A tireless worker for charity, Ruth Houghton, was delighted to receive a grant to assist the Dunedin Civic Orchestra fund the cost of new equipment. Ruth received the award certificate from Councillor Noone.


Geoff Burden from Wakari Bowling Club collected an OMCT cheque from Councillor Andrew Noone.  The club requested a small amount of funding to assist
them to replace an obsolete oven in their kitchen.


Taieri Amateur Swimming Club were in need of replacement sports equipment and the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust was equally happy to provide it. Rosemary Ellis is pictured receiving the grant from Cllr Noone.


St. Mary’s School in Mosgiel had been fund raising for months for covers for their children’s jumping pit.  the OMCT was delighted to dive in and help them over the last hurdle.  Mike Brosnahan collected the $1,500 donation from Cllr Andrew Noone.


‘The Friends of Children in Hospital’ go quietly about their outstanding work for sick kids
in the community.  The group needed a child’s cradle for a CT scanner and the OMCT provided the means.  Cllr Andrew Noone hands a cheque for $1,300 to Children’s Friend, Marie Penese.


Alex Griffin, from Brighton Bowling Club, studiously studies (!) the grant certificate presented to him by Dunedin City Council representative Andrew Noone.


The Salvation Army is an organisation close to her heart, so MP Clare Curran was delighted to be asked to present Foodbank Corps Officer, Ralph Hargest, with
a cheque for $1,000 toward this worthy cause.


Anglican Family Care Food bank representative, John Whelan, was “overjoyed” to receive a OMCT cheque for 1,000 dollars from the hand of Dunedin South MP, Clare Curran.


 A dedicated worker and fund raiser for the St. Vincent de Paul Foodbank, Lynley Forbes, was “over the moon” when she collected an Otago Masonic Charitable Trust award of $1,000 from Labour Party MP, Clare Curran.


Member of Parliament for Dunedin South, Clare Curran, was very happy to be able to present Presbyterian Support representative, Deb Galling, with the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust’s gift of $1,000 toward their foodbank.


Rt.W.Bro. Olly Laytham PM has forgotten more about the satisfaction that ‘charitable giving’ brings than most of us will ever learn in a lifetime.  Here Olly is seen introducing
‘the Elwing Adventure’ course – Now an annual part of the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust’s Youth Development Programme.

(‘Elwing’ is a large, ocean-going, live-aboard yacht, kitted with a plethora of inflatable boats, diving equipment and ‘sea-stuff’.)


Government Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, presented Georgia Buxton with a New
Zealand Coastguard’s certificate for having successfully completed the Elwing Adventure course.  during her high seas experience, Georgia obtained qualifications as both a Dayskipper and as a Radio Operator.

(Based in Stewart Island, the ‘Elwing’ is a large, ocean-going, live-aboard yacht.)



Michael Woodhouse MP, was delighted to present Shay Robson with a New Zealand Coastguard
certificate, announcing that Shay had successfully completed the Elwing Adventure course off the coast of Stewart Island.  During his time aboard, Shay gained qualifications as a Radio Operator and a Dayskipper’s certificate.

(‘Elwing’ is a large, live-aboard, yacht carrying a variety of diving and deep sea equipment.)


Caitlyn White took part in the OMCT’s 2016 Elwing Adventure course – 7-days on the ‘High Seas’, During which she learned about the beauty and the dangers within the turbulent waters around Stewart Island.  She also qualified as a Radio Operator and obtained a Dayskipper’s certificate.  Caitlyn received her New Zealand Coastguard certificate from Government Minister, Michael Woodhouse.


On behalf of ‘The Fred Staub Trust,’ Dunedin MP, Dr. David Clark presents Professor Leoni Schmidt with a cheque for 10,000 dollars.  Professor Schmidt is the Head of the Dunedin School of Art and explained to the audience how the Trust’s continued funding had assisted the art school with more initiatives for study than its normal annual fiscal allocation might have allowed.


Munro Doran, Chairman of the University of Otago Masonic Scholarships Committee, introduces the Freemason’s Charity Programmes for Paediatrics and Child Health, and University Scholarships.


Dr. Maria Saito-Benz, Gloria Dainty and Rebecca Harding proudly display their Postgraduate Fellowship in Paediatrics certificates, while Paediatrics Professor Dawn Elder, NZ Freemasons’ Charity Controller, Sheila Hicking and (seated) Labour MP, Clare Curran look on.
Gloria Dainty’s certificate was special in that it marked the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the New Zealand Masonic Constitution.


A previous Fellowship recipient, Paediatric and Child Health physician, Dr. Maria Saito-Benz, replied on behalf of the Paediatric Fellowship and Scholarship recipients.


Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith, Scholarships Manager for the University of Otago, acknowledged the enormous support that the Freemasons’ University Scholarship Awards provide for the furtherance of education for gifted young students.


Professor of Paediatrics, Dawn Elder, described to an attentive audience, the high-quality of research being carried out by the current Paediatric Fellows in both Wellington and Dunedin.


Announced by Munro Doran, Undergraduate Anna Charles-Jones received the reward of a scholarship from NZ Freemasons’ Charity’s Go-To Person, Sheila Hicking.


Sports fanatic and Postgraduate, Conrad Goodhew, had suffered an injury in a match prior to his receiving the award of a scholarship, but a slight issue as basic as a busted
leg wasn’t going to hold Conrad back!  Sheila Hicking does the honours.


Brilliant minds – New scholarship holders, Postgraduates Dayle Keown, Conrad Goodhew, Anna Charles-Jones and Shannon Tumataroa are flanked by Sheila Hicking (L) and Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith,
Scholarships Manager, University of Otago.

The Postgraduates each hold a gift of ‘The Perfect Ashlar,’ the allegorical Masonic emblem of “making good people better”.


Sometime during the day, poor Dayle Keown ‘drew the short straw’ and was ‘volunteered’ to speak in reply on behalf of the other Undergraduate Scholarship recipients.  It was obvious that Dayle was genuinely thankful of his scholarship and his kindly comments were not lost on several of the distinguished Freemasons present at the event…
…it is nice to be acknowledged.


Munro Doran and Treasurer of the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust, Les Green, are pictured
gifting a Daisy Reader to a Blind Foundation representative.


 An excellent local community project, Clutha Super Masters Games representatives receive financial assistance via the OMCT from the hand of Clinton Lodge’s Master, Erick Minoza.


An unusual scene in most Masonic Lodges, Clinton Lodge Master, Erick Minoza is faced with a lively contingent from the Clutha Valley Play Centre.


Joanne Mead, Manager of the Tokomairiro Early Learning Centre, applied for assistance with funding for children’s books which the OMCT were pleased to grant.  Joanne is pictured with WBro. Erick Minoza and Head Teacher, Kim MacDonald at Clinton Lodge.


Tokomairiro gym receives assistance to purchase a new treadmill.  Bruce Vollweiler collects a $5,000 cheque from W.Bro. Erickson Minoza while Gym Manager, Robyn Mathieson looks on.


Waiwera South Primary School required assistance and the OMCT were pleased to help.  The Master of Clinton Lodge, W.Bro. Erickson Minoza does the honours.


Invercargill girl, Shannon Tumataroa, received a University Postgraduate Scholarship to
assist her studies the field of ‘Financial Decision-making in Low-income Populations’ NZ Freemasons’ Charity Controller, Sheila Hicking presents the award while, in the background, District Grand Master, Ron Hunter; Catholic Church representative, Monsignor John Harrison; and Members of  Parliament, Dr. David Clark and Clare Curran offer their congratulations.

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