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Official name announced for South Island’s largest library

28 September 2017

Christchurch’s new $92 million central library has an official name — Tūranga.

The public library, which is under construction on the corner of Cathedral Square and Gloucester Street, will be the largest in the South Island and a third larger than the city’s former earthquake-damaged central library.

Christchurch City Council recently approved the name Tūranga, which was gifted by Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga.

The name reflects the relationship with Whitireia, the traditional name for Cathedral Square.

“In oral tradition Whitireia was the name of the house of Paikea, the ancestor who travelled here on the back of a whale,” says Carolyn Robertson, Head of Libraries and Information.

“Tūranga was where his house was located, so the name honours the Māori tradition while reflecting the library’s new location in the heart of the city.”

Tūranga, which is on schedule to open mid-next year, will significantly change how people think about the library and interact with its services.

“Many people might assume we’re simply rebuilding the old central library, albeit a bit bigger and a bit further down the road. The reality is we’re not just rebuilding we’re completely reinventing it in the process,” Robertson says.

“Highly flexibly spaces and new technology will be central to the way Tūranga operates. It will connect five floors of knowledge, products, services and experiences, including a hands-on technology and innovation zone, a 200-seat TSB community arena, a café, children’s playground and much, much more.

“The entire library will become a digital hub supported by a variety of high-tech features and new experiences. Think virtual reality, gaming consoles, laser cutters, digital walls, 3D printers and you’re starting to get the idea.

“It really is going to be something incredibly special for the city, and a real focal point for domestic and international visitors.”

Tūranga will be the flagship for the Christchurch City Libraries network, supporting 19 community, digital, and mobile libraries which last year hosted 3.7 million visits and issued almost 4.5 million items.

By 2020, it will connect with the Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch Performing Arts Precinct and the refurbished Christchurch Town Hall.

Designed by award-winning international architects schmidt hammer lassen in partnership with Architectus, the library is expected to attract around 3000 visitors per day when it opens to the public next year.

Christchurch City Libraries staff are currently consulting with a number of secondary schools about options for Tūranga’s youth programmes.

More than 2400 community ideas helped shape the vision for the library during the public ‘Your Library, Your Voice’ campaign in 2014.

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