FINAL FEW: Buffalo Lodge members Rick Hehipa, Rocky Cuthbert, Frankie Jaram, Alf Akurangi and Terrance Cuthbert. Photo Paula Massey D8932-12

SECRET societies and closed-door meetings have tantalised many a conspiracy theorist throughout history, but one such club in the heart of central Whakatane is at a risk of closing its doors forever.

Frankie Jaram is the Grand Lodge Officer of the Whakatane Buffalo Lodge chapter and says their secretive ways are only tradition.

These traditions have been a part of Frankie’s life for 40 years, and as he recounts his thoughts of losing something so close to him, a quiver in his voice cuts through his once jovial tone.

Fundraising and serving the community is right atop their priority list. However, as numbers fall and only six members remain in the Eastern Bay, the work they do may have to come to an end forever.

Five members is the minimum to keep the club running and Frankie and his fellow “Buffs” want to let the community know that they aren’t just a club with funny rules, but a group of people wanting to give back.

“We don’t have much money but what we do raise, we give out to our community,” Frankie says. “It’s getting harder and harder raising money because there’s not many of us left.”

Frankie says that because of their traditions and the overwhelming number of things to be involved with, the buffalo may become extinct.

“There’s so many different clubs you can relate to these days nobody knows about us or what we do.

“We’re nearly closed already – according to our constitution we need to have five members to have a meeting and to carry on we need new members.

“I’ve been in here 40 years and the rest have done a little less. A lot have passed away or got to sick where they can’t come anymore,” Frankie says.

JUST A CLUB: Whakatane Buffalo Lodge Grand Lodge Officer Frankie Jaram says the lodge’s secret ways are only tradition.

It’s not easy for Frankie and his Buffs, they work hard with the resources they have and strive to keep their traditions alive.

“That’s what we’re trying to break, is that secret society stuff … they think we have all these secrets, but we are just a club.”

Raffles and fundraisers are on the agenda rather than cloaks and candle-lit meetings as the Whakatane Buffalo Lodge has donated to St Joseph’s School, Idea Services and many different organisations in the Eastern Bay.

“It might take us ages to get anywhere because of how little members we have, but we get there in the end,” Frankie says.

The Buffs encourage anybody who might be interested in joining to just strike up a conversation and see that they’re not so secret after all. “Community is exactly what we’re about so just come and have a talk with us.”

hazel.osborne@thebeacon.co.nz