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Library and archive redevelopment gains traction

2021 12 08

Progress on Wairoa’s library and archive facility has moved into the preliminary design stage.

The development follows in the footsteps of a very bold Wairoa community, which back in 1961 collectively fundraised to build Wairoa’s current landmark library building.

History is now set to repeat with the redevelopment project of this culturally and historically significant site.

Wairoa District Council has contracted architectural firm RTA Studio to deliver the preliminary designs in collaboration with internationally renowned artist and local man Dr Sandy Adsett.

RTA Studio has worked in Wairoa previously, winning six design awards for the Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngati Kahungunu o Te Wairoa, and more recently receiving eight awards for the Scion Innovation Hub ‘Te Whare Nui O Tuteata’, including two Architecture Master Prizes.

The library and library green site was once part of Manukanui Pa of which Ngāti Moewhare and Ngāti Kurupakiaka are mana whenua. Early engagement with mana whenua resulted in the suggestion of asking Dr Adsett to be the creative leader for the project.

Dr Adsett, of Raupunga, is described as one of the most significant Māori artists of our time and has had an infinite impact on the Māori arts education system.

Wairoa District Council Group Manager of Information and Customer Experience, Dr Kimberley Tuapawa, is driving the redevelopment project and described it as a privilege and honour to have Dr Adsett on board.

Redeveloping the library and relocating the archives into a single facility at the library site has been an aspiration of the Wairoa District Council for nearly 10-years.

Wairoa District Council Chief Executive Officer Kitea Tipuna said the redevelopment will provide a modern purpose-built space to accommodate the growing needs of our community, improving access to information, literature, heritage and cultural resources while ensuring the safe storage of our archival collection. The space will be compliant and accessible to the public and aims to deliver an environment rich with social, cultural, education and recreational activities for everyone.

The National Library has funded this first stage of the project which includes applying for further external funding to support the total project which is expected to cost around $6 million.

Council allocated $1.9M for the project in its 2020/21 Annual Plan.

Engagement with the key groups will continue to feed into the creative process with mana whenua invited to an initial workshop on Wednesday, December 15 at the Library between 2pm and 6pm.

The architects and Dr Adsett are planning to be onsite to listen to the aspirations and stories of the site put forward by mana whenua to enable them to draw creative inspiration which will inform the building design and be representative of the culture and heritage that underpins the Wairoa community.

Due to COVID-19 and red traffic light restrictions, there will be limitations around the number of people able to attend the workshop, and vaccine passports will be required. Those interested in attending should register by emailing alex@visionprojects or phone 021856800.

The Centennial Library sits on land that was once part of Manukanui Pā, a significant and large pā in Old Wairoa. Manukanui was home to revered upoko ariki Tapuwae, and later Kopu, and known as a place of hospitality and political discussion. This connection to tīpuna and tikanga resonates in the ambition of the proposed Library Archive redevelopment; to celebrate the mana of this site and, inspired by this heritage, to re-create a welcoming place of shared knowledge, history, culture, tikanga and te reo Māori.

The Library is one of the Wairoa district’s most loved and supported Council facilities. Nearly half, 44%, of the resident community are active users, and the service consistently rates over 90% in Council’s annual satisfaction survey.

In addition, the Wairoa Archive holds a near complete documentary record of governance dating to the first Council records in 1877. Correspondence, minute books, rate books and rare property maps contribute to this rich and unique collection.

In 2015, Council identified the need to improve the storage of the archive and that creating a shared resource centre at the library was the best way forward.

In 2020, a Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) grant was used to establish a community digital hub within the library to address digital deprivation identified in Te Rohe o Te Wairoa. This also presented an opportunity to revisit the library and archive redevelopment in both service delivery and scale.

9 December 2021

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