Theosophy in New Zealand
- Published: Tuesday, 13 November 2012 14:18
History of the Theosophical Society in New Zealand: Originally part of the Australasia Section (founded in 1894), the New Zealand Lodges then comprised Auckland, chartered in 1892; Christchurch, chartered in 1894; Wellington, chartered in 1888; and Dunedin, chartered in 1893.
Early members and Lodges of the Australasian Section: Augustine Les Edgar King became the first New Zealand member, having joined while visiting London. His diploma was dated April 3, 1879. On his return to New Zealand, he became the first member of the Society in the southern hemisphere.
E. T. Sturdy, whom Colonel OLCOTT referred to as the “Father of Theosophy in New Zealand,” joined the Society in 1885 while living at Woodville in Hawkes Bay. After traveling overseas and meeting Col. Olcott, H. P. BLAVATSKY, and W. Q. JUDGE, he returned to New Zealand and settled in Wellington. Gathering a group of students around himself, he started the Wellington Lodge, which was chartered in 1888. Among its members were Sir Harry Albert ATKINSON, Prime Minister of New Zealand; his wife Anne E. Atkinson; their son, E. Tudor Atkinson; M. van Staveren, a Jewish rabbi; H. M. Stowell (Hare Hongi), a Maori tohunga (priest); and Edward Tregear, a poet and Maori scholar, who wrote a book about the similarities of the Hindu and Maori languages. The Wellington Lodge ceased to exist when Sturdy returned to England, where he became a student in HPB’s “inner group”; however they regrouped in 1894 and continue to the present.