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Last modified: 22 Sep 2020 8:30am

An artists impression of the foyer and stair case in Te Ara Atea

Anchoring the new Rolleston town centre, the Te Ara Ātea building is shaping to be a place for everyone in Selwyn to celebrate the district’s identity and people.

The 2,200 square metre, two-storey building, which will be finished in late 2021 will house the new Rolleston library, along with the district’s “living room”, performances spaces, and even a treasure box.

“Everyone will be able to find their cosy corner, or an experience they will enjoy,” District Arts Culture and Lifelong Learning Coordinator Mat Logan says. “It’s not just a library, it’s a museum and heritage experience and an arts space. You might be walking down the end of a set of shelves and there will be a display case or a story or an exhibition.”

The name Te Ara Ātea, was gifted by Te Taumutu Rūnanga and means the unobstructed trail reflecting the trails tangata whenua made across the plains, the name also references the building metaphorically as a place for learning and growth for people Project Manager Joanne Nikolaou says.

Through the project the Council has worked with the rūnanga to weave the cultural identity of the district through the building and reflect its role as a place for learning, connecting, exploring and celebrating the district’s identity and people.

The downstairs is designed as a more active space with performance and exhibition areas, a workshop room and tamariki area with interactive resources and doors to the children’s area of the town square. But it also features a community space for people to meet and spend time.

“It’s been designed like someone’s living room with sofas and a fireplace, we want people to feel like it’s their living room,” Joanne says.

Upstairs will be the majority of the library space, with exhibitions and displays integrated throughout. It will also feature waka huia, literally meaning treasure box. A soundproofed room with desks and computers and a museum-quality display wall on the outside that will display taonga from Te Taumutu Rūnanga, allowing treasures of the district to come home.