Christchurch Central Library

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General information
LocationChristchurch Central City
AddressCorner of Gloucester Street and Colombo Street, Christchurch, New Zealand
Coordinates43°31′48″S 172°38′13″E / 43.529979°S 172.636942°E / -43.529979; 172.636942Coordinates: 43°31′48″S 172°38′13″E / 43.529979°S 172.636942°E / -43.529979; 172.636942
Construction started22 February 2016 (Groundworks)
OwnerChristchurch City Council
Technical details
Floor countFive storeys
Design and construction
Structural engineerLewisBradford Consulting Engineers
Main contractorSouthbase Construction

Tūranga (Christchurch Central Library) is a library in Central Christchurch and the main library of Christchurch City Libraries, New Zealand. It is the largest library in the South Island and the third-biggest in New Zealand. The previous Christchurch Central Library opened in 1982 on the corner of Oxford Terrace and Gloucester Street but was closed after the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake and demolished in 2014 to make way for the Convention Centre Precinct.


The Christchurch library dates back to 1859 and the original library buildings were on the corner of Cambridge Terrace and Hereford Street. Eventually over 100 years old, a replacement was needed, and after years of searching for a suitable site, the property on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace was purchased in 1974.[1] The new site was again facing the Avon River, was across the river from the historic Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings, and was only a short walk away from the town centre in Cathedral Square.[2]

The architecture firm Warren and Mahoney was engaged to design the building, and Charles Luney was the principal contractor. The total price for the site and construction was NZ$5.8m.[1] The building was opened by Sir David Beattie, the Governor-General,[3] on 2 February 1982.[2] Membership grew dramatically after the opening, and within three months, 10,000 new members were gained.[4]

The library had four floors, with a total area of 6,000 square metres (65,000 sq ft).[2] The ground floor and the first floor were linked by an escalator, with the second and third floor used for internal services.[1] Another one and a half floors were added in 1997, and another escalator was added from the first to the second floor, expanding the area open to the public.[2] Further changes were made to the building in 2001.[2]


Christchurch Central Library during demolition

Whilst the library building suffered little structural damage in the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the central city was declared a redzone and the city centre was not accessible to the public.[2] With the red zone cordon shrinking over time, alternative central city library locations were established in South City Mall (8 July 2011 – 15 July 2012),[5] Peterborough Street (19 December 2011 – present),[6] Tuam Street (July 2012 – November 2013),[7][3] and Manchester Street (20 January 2014 – present).[3] The Tuam Street library was conveniently located adjacent to the temporary bus exchange and became necessary as more books were recovered from the central building in Gloucester Street, but it closed again as the land was designated for the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.[8]

The Christchurch Central Library building was located within the area that the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan designated for the Convention Centre Precinct and for that reason, the building was demolished during September and October 2014.[9]

New Central Library[edit]

On 26 March 2015, plans for a new $85 million dollar library were unveiled to City councillors. The new library, named Tūranga (from the Maori language), is one-third larger than the previous library, the largest library in the South Island and the third-largest in New Zealand, behind Auckland and Wellington's central libraries. [10] The replacement library was designed by both Architectus, a New Zealand architecture firm, and Schmidt Hammer Lassen, an award-winning Danish architecture firm. The building's design is inspired by the golden hues reflected upon the Port Hills, which are an important part in Christchurch's cityscape.

Soon after construction started on the new library, the Christchurch City Council increased their contribution to the library from $60 million to $95 million.[11] This controversial cost increase was due to multiple factors, such as acquiring land and inflation.

The library was opened to the public on 12 October 2018, with over 13,000 people visiting on its opening weekend.[12]


  1. ^ a b c "Canterbury Public Library" (PDF). New Library Publicity Committee. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Central Library Building, 1982–2014". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Mathewson, Nicole (20 January 2014). "Manchester St library opens". The Press. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  4. ^ "A History of Christchurch City Libraries". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  5. ^ "Central South City Library". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Central Library reopens in temporary spot". The Press. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  7. ^ Turner, Anna (22 June 2012). "Temporary library to open in Tuam St". The Press. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  8. ^ Matthews, Philip (3 January 2015). "Quake zone in transition". The Press. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  9. ^ Eleven, Beck (7 September 2014). "Library coming down but memories stick". The Press. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  10. ^ Cairns, Lois (26 March 2015). "Christchurch's new $85m library unveiled". The Press. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  11. ^ Gates, Charlie (15 January 2017). "Council increases contribution for new Christchurch library". The Press. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  12. ^ Law, Tina (14 October 2018). "Thousands visit Christchurch's new $92m central library". The Press. Retrieved 14 October 2018.

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