Adding 'library' label to Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi in Ōpōtiki stirs debate

The name Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi was given to the library by Whakatōhea kaumātua. It opened a year ago. Photo / Supplied via LDR

A “library” sign will help those struggling to find the Ōpōtiki building, or “tarnish” the name mana whenua bestowed on it – depending on who you talk to.

A year after the opening of the new library building, Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi, Ōpōtiki District Council is planning to create new signage explaining its function.

Former councillor Louis Rāpihana has posted on social media, saying that adding the word “library” to the building would “tarnish” the name bestowed upon it by Whakatōhea kaumātua.

He said that as the mauri stones buried under the two pou were blessed as Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi, if any other word was to be added, the pou would need to be pulled down and the mauri stones replaced.

“Replacement of a mauri stone is done when buildings are being replaced, not months out from the opening,” he said.

“The name needs to be respected and left as it is, not transformed into “Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi Library” because it is more than a library. Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi is not your yesteryear “library” it is a technology hub for the community.”

Deputy mayor Shona Browne said as a justice of the peace she made a lot of appointments to meet people at the library.

"They have texted me to say, ‘we can’t find it, where is it?’ They don’t realise that this beautiful building we’re so proud of is the library. That’s why I brought it up.

“We’ve had so many people say, ‘with the use of two languages these days, why do you not have the word library there as well?’ If you look at the building, the name Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi is on the left, but on the right it is blank, so there is plenty of space to add the word library.”

Councillor Tom Brooks was also instrumental in having a new sign added. He said Ōpōtiki District Council staff were looking at how it would be worded, but the name of the building would not change.

“This is not a rename. The name is still going to remain. All we are doing is putting up a sign to give the public some information,” he said. “It might well be in English and Māori and sign language. That’s what I have suggested. At the moment, if you didn’t know what it was, you’d just drive straight past.”

Mayor David Moore agreed that it was not a name change.

As a boat owner, he gave the analogy that the name of a boat is not changed by the description of what it is.

“My boat’s called Kororā, which is a very special name for me, but it’s still a McLay boat.”

The council’s community services and development group manager Anna Hayward said councillors had asked staff to look into adding signage to Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi as there had been some community feedback that people were unaware it was a library.

She said council adopted the name for the proposed new facility in March 2016 following Whakatōhea kaumatua Te Riako Amoamo bestowing the name upon the proposed community facility at a council meeting in January the same year.

“The tāhuhu of the wharenui is the traditional library, or storehouse of knowledge, on the marae. The building’s skylight tāhuhu is said to allow the wisdom of the sky father, Ranginui, to flow into the building. The building is a space where our community can meet, learn and expand their skills and understanding of our community and the wider world so the name is wonderfully appropriate.

“There are no plans to change or alter the name of the building from Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi.”

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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