Written by Kim Tairi, Auckland University of Technology / Twitter: @kimtairi
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On 22 February 2011 in Ōtautahi (Christchurch), Aotearoa New Zealand an earthquake shattered the city. Today as you walk around the central business district which was particularly hard hit, you occasionally find memorials to people who lost their lives and the skeletons of fallen buildings. It reminds me of New Orleans, another city scarred by natural disaster.
After 8 years, rebuilding continues and it feels like vibrancy and energy has really started to return to the inner city.
Highlights for me when visiting Ōtautahi include:
1. Giant murals by renowned street artists
2. Margaret Mahy Family Park and;
3. Tūranga public library
When Tūrunga, the city’s new public library opened in October 2018 for many it symbolised the ngakau (heart) of the city returning. It is a place for people, to learn, grow and be together. It is named after the homeland of the local iwi,Ngāi Tahu (tribe) ancestor, Paikea. The name itself is a toanga (treasure) and holds great significance.
Design of the building was a done in partnership with Matapopore Trust. Personally, I believe this is what makes Tūranga something special.
Through out the building, indigenous narratives have been woven into each floor. Te reo Māori, the indigenous language of Aotearoa New Zealand is everywhere. Each floor is named:
• He Hononga | Connection
• Hapori | Community
• Tuakiri | Identity
• Tūhuratanga | Discovery
• Auahatanga | Creativity
Māori art, symbolism and kōrero (stories) are part of the veryfabric of the building. It’s beautiful, with lots of natural woodand clean lines.
It is also award winning.
The lead architect Architectusworked with Danish design team Schmidt Hammer Lassen. If you know Schmidt Hammer Lassen work, you will recognise some familiar motifs such as the use of natural materials, voids and sweeping staircases.
I was fortunate to get a guided tour and they are doing amazing mahi (work). The Hapori floor was packed with rangatahi (young people) and tamariki (children) many playing in the Lego pit. Staff were highly visible and rather than be tied to a desk were roving with ipads. I was impressed. The staff I spoke to all enjoy working in the space and know they are part of something special.
As I sat in the Library café after the tour, I thought to myself this is the library that Ōtautahi really needs. It is iconic, beautiful and full of ngakau (heart).