Tūranga

Monday9:00 am – 8:00 pm.

Tuesday9:00 am – 8:00 pm.

Wednesday9:00 am – 8:00 pm.

Thursday9:00 am – 8:00 pm.

Friday9:00 am – 8:00 pm.

Saturday10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Sunday10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central, Christchurch

03-941 7923

The day Tūranga opened was a palpable moment for Ōtautahi. On October 12th, 2019 Cantabrians flocked to the stunning structure and quickly discovered something truly rooted in their own imaginations.

When blueprints were initially drawn for Tūranga, Christchurch’s central public library, planners turned to the library’s future constituents for input. In a still uncertain time, the responses were anything but guarded. Requests for “Harry Potter stairs” were submitted more than a few times along with appeals for resources on New Zealand culture, a coffee cart in the mums and bubs section, a recording studio, 3D printers, in-depth ancestral records, a big slide and more.

It’s not often that grand designs are plucked from the mind’s eye and brought to life. At Tūranga they are, every day. Whether you’re a local or just here for a moment, Tūranga is not to be missed.

In its first year of life Tūranga’s enormous revolving doors saw more than a million visitors of all generations, nationalities and professions spin through. Just past the threshold, patrons are treated to a skyward view of the “Harry Potter” staircases that lead library-goers from floor to floor. An interactive Discovery Wall offers information on attractions and the opportunity to send digital postcards. Foundation Cafe, also on the ground floor, offers friendly service and healthy fare.

The first floor features a highly interactive kids’ area complete with a slide, the Imagination Station LEGO experiences and a birds eye view of the Christchurch Cathedral. The wide picture window often sees children playing beneath it, lone readers having a quiet moment, or travellers snapping pictures from above. A coffee cart makes it easy to get a caffeine kick without losing sight of the tots.

As you ascend higher within Tūranga you’ll begin to notice all of the subtle, yet intentional ways in which it celebrates and tells the story of New Zealand’s rich bi-cultural narrative. The name Tūranga means “place” and was gifted to the library by Ngāi Tahu iwi. The exterior structure references the harakeke (flax) plant and the building, which was awarded the John Scott Award for Public Architecture, is intrinsic to Christchurch. It can never be repeated. Literary collections, a specialist Māori services team, art work, design elements and library programming all seek to share New Zealand’s many cultures with everyone who visits.

One floor up you’ll find a focus on identity. Beautifully organised records and microfiche provide a place to dig deep into family history. Knowledgeable staff are always present to assist with research. The Southbase Gallery on the opposite side of this floor features New Zealand art exhibitions and The Pacifica Collection which represents a robust portion of the library’s 180,000 volume print collection.

The third floor is rooted in discovery. Here visitors will find poetry, drama, non-fiction, meeting rooms and plenty of chance-upon spots for contemplative moments.

Level four, the creativity floor, includes fiction, a recording studio, 3D printers, laser printers, a green screen studio, World languages music collection and frequent workshops, classes and community events.

Everyone visits Tūranga for a different reason but regardless of purpose, all are welcome. People of all sorts cross paths here and whatever they’re looking for be it a 3D printer or simply a place to spend the day, can be found within these walls. It is in this way that Tūranga is so much more than just a library. It’s a living breathing organism that persists each day on the joy and energy of the Christchurch community.

Words by Olivia Sisson & Photography by Nancy Zhou

60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central, Christchurch

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