20 November 2014

More than just buildings: public art in Auckland Libraries

Two brand-new library buildings at Waiheke Island and Ranui are home to the usual things you'd expect to find in a modern library - books, magazines and DVDs for all ages, public-access computers and free wifi. 

But they are also home to unique and beautiful art works created especially for their people.  

People and pou at Waiheke Library.
Locals gather at dawn around the pou at Waiheke Library.
The pou are named Tikapa (front), Putiki O Kahu (centre) and Piritahi (back).
Opened in July 2014, the new Waiheke Library building features three works of permanent art that evoke the island’s distinct stories and character.

Auckland Libraries' Pou Whakahaere, Service Innovation Māori, Anahera Sadler says two of the artworks were developed in partnership with Ngati Paoa, mana whenua, or traditional owners, of Waiheke Island.

The decorative window at Waiheke Library.
The unique motif that wraps around Waiheke Library is
based on Taratara-ā-Kae, a crescent wave and whale motif.
One of these artworks is called Waiheke Pou Whakara. Created under the direction of head carver Chris Bailey (Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Hako,Te Aupouri, Ngāti Porou), the three pou whenua and a navigation stone command the knoll on the uppermost northern edge of the Artworks precinct in which the library sits at Oneroa.

Also created in conjunction with Ngāti Paoa is the dynamic graphic print that wraps the library building's exterior and interior glass surfaces. Titled Ngaruhora by Lorna Dixon-Rikihana (Ngāti Paoa), it is based on Taratara-ā-Kae, a crescent wave and whale motif.

The third artwork is part of the library itself. The phrase "Lots of rain, lots of sun, lots of wind, lots of day, lots of night" is embedded into the walls of the new library building and took artist Kazu Nakagawa six months to create. The piece is titled Forty Nine Letters and pays tribute to Waiheke's changeable weather, which Nakagawa, as a long-time resident of the island himself, is very familiar with.

Meanwhile, etched into the building’s concrete floor with overlapping calligraphic script are the words 'whenua', 'land', 'hau' and 'wind' to form a lyrical pattern of repeating text.