The reopening of Tauranga Library at He Puna Manawa is great news for passionate readers, but also history lovers, online learners and those keen to try their luck at drawing, knitting, genealogy, robotics and other activities in an inclusive community space.
Before officially checking out the first book of the day, library staff joined mana whenua, Tauranga City Council Commissioners, project staff, and other guests in an early morning blessing of the space, led by local kaumātua Tamati Tata, of Ngāi Tamarāwaho.
As part of the blessing, karakia, or prayers, were recited to create a safe place for those visiting and working at the location.
Commission Chair Anne Tolley says Monday's opening represents a new and exciting chapter for the library and should give the community confidence that council is determined to deliver on its commitment to transform the city centre.
'It's quite incredible to see the transformation that's taken place at He Puna Manawa since the fitout first started in October, especially with the impacts of Covid-19 hitting hard during that time.
'We think the community is really going to enjoy this new space, and it will certainly help add some vibrancy to this part of the city.”
Commissioner Shad Rolleston says council worked closely with mana whenua and architects Warren and Mahoney to ensure the design and layout of He Puna Manawa acknowledges the rich history of the area.
'The feeling you get as you walk through the doors is that this environment really represents and reflects the uniqueness of our great city,” says Shad.
'From the prow and stern of waka at each end of the building, and the punga, or anchor stone, out the front on Devonport Road, to the glimpses of the Tauranga Heritage Collection and the images of early Tauranga that show how much the city has changed, He Puna Manawa captures much of the essence of Tauranga Moana.
'It's great to see the space has been utilised to tell some of the stories of Tauranga and give people a taste of how much more there is to learn.”
Libraries Manager Joanna Thomas says the relocation to He Puna Manawa involved a huge and meticulous effort by the library team to pack, transport, and rehouse over 100,000 books, as well as other resources and furniture.
She says the new space will have everything the community loved about the previous library, plus some exciting new additions, in a vibrant and colourful space.
'Generations of Tauranga locals and visitors alike will have fond memories of the Willow Street location, but the move to He Puna Manawa, and then to the future civic precinct further down the track, allows us to modernise and improve,” says Joanna.
Joanna says while finishing touches are still being completed, including the creation of a new café on-site that is expected to be open within six weeks, the city-based library team is excited to be connecting with the community again.
'We are happy to be able to offer this space to people at a time when they're craving a more normal life, enjoying family outings, learning new things and just being out and about in the company of others.
'There will be jigsaws and board games and comfy quiet spaces for those that just want to relax. Genealogy and history research is catered for within a special space, and there is a digital lab and AV room available for events people may like to hold here.
'We feel that what's on offer truly reflects the concept behind the name He Puna Manawa, which translated literally means ‘an oasis'.”
Local kaumātua, Tamati Tata of Ngāi Tamarāwaho, leads a karakia at this morning's blessing.
To celebrate the opening of He Puna Manawa, the library is holding an open day on Saturday, April 9, where people can join in some family-friendly activities.
Tauranga Library will continue to call He Puna Manawa home until its new space is built at the civic precinct in the city centre. Council's Customer Service Centre, which relocated to He Puna Manawa at the end of January, will be based there until council's leased administration building is constructed at 90 Devonport Road.
Council is currently asking the community for feedback on proposed plans for the civic precinct, where the future library and community hub will be located. To find out more and share your views, visit www.tauranga.govt.nz/itstime