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Tūranga 983.jpg
Tūranga in November 2018
General information
LocationChristchurch Central City
AddressCorner of Gloucester Street, Colombo Street, and Cathedral Square, Christchurch, New Zealand
Coordinates43°31′48″S 172°38′13″E / 43.5299°S 172.6369°E / -43.5299; 172.6369Coordinates: 43°31′48″S 172°38′13″E / 43.5299°S 172.6369°E / -43.5299; 172.6369
Construction started22 February 2016 (Groundworks)
Opened12 October 2018
OwnerChristchurch City Council
Technical details
Floor countFive storeys
Design and construction
ArchitectArchitectus, Schmidt Hammer Lassen
Structural engineerLewisBradford Consulting Engineers
Main contractorSouthbase Construction

Tūranga is the main public library in Christchurch, New Zealand. It opened in October 2018 and replaced the nearby Christchurch Central Library that was closed on the day of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Location and prior buildings[edit]

Tūranga is located in the north-eastern quadrant of Cathedral Square and fronts Gloucester and Colombo Streets. The original wooden building on the site was demolished in 1885; the then-owner Fred Hobbs replaced it with a substantial building of permanent materials that became known as Cathedral Chambers. The location had earlier become known as Hobbs' corner after its prominent owner who had painted his name on the wooden building. Cathedral Chambers was replaced with the Colonial Mutual Limited (or CML) building in 1975, so named after its main tenant.[1] This office building was later converted to a hotel and was last known as the Camelot Hotel.


The previous library closed with the 2011 Christchurch earthquake as the Christchurch Central City was cordoned off. The 2012 Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, commonly referred to as the Blueprint, identified 17 anchor project, including a new central library.[2] Through the Blueprint, the responsibility for delivering the building was assigned to Christchurch City Council. Partners for the delivery were Ngāi Tahu and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).[3] The indicative project delivery schedule in the Blueprint, developed on behalf of CERA, showed a proposed opening of the new library during the third quarter of 2015.[4] In a publication titled Anchor Projects Overview updated in June 2014, the opening date was shown as January 2017.[5] In a pamphlet published by CERA in November 2014, the anticipated opening date was shown for the third quarter of 2017.[6]

On 26 March 2015, plans for a new $85 million dollar library were unveiled to city councillors. The new library, named Tūranga (from the Māori 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. [7] 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.[8] This controversial cost increase was due to multiple factors, such as acquiring land and inflation.[9]

The library was opened to the public on 12 October 2018, with over 13,000 people visiting on its opening weekend.[10]


The library's name was offered by Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri rūnanga. It makes reference to Whitireia, the Māori name for Cathedral Square. Paikea was an ancestor of Ngāi Tahu and Whitireia was the name of his house located in Tūranga, the original name for Gisborne in the North Island. The name thus values the location where Paikea's house was located. Christchurch city councillors approved the name in September 2017. There was an initial intention to give the library an English descriptor of "A Place of Discovery" but this idea was dropped and there is no English word for Christchurch's central library.[11][12]


  1. ^ NZ Federation of University Women 1995, pp. 25–28.
  2. ^ Harvie, Will (13 August 2017). "Five years on, architects of Christchurch rebuild blueprint stand by their plan". The Press. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  3. ^ CERA 2012, pp. 79f.
  4. ^ CERA 2012, p. 46.
  5. ^ CERA 2014a, pp. 34f.
  6. ^ CERA 2014b.
  7. ^ Cairns, Lois (26 March 2015). "Christchurch's new $85m library unveiled". The Press. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  8. ^ Gates, Charlie (15 January 2017). "Council increases contribution for new Christchurch library". The Press. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  9. ^ Gates, Charlie (15 January 2017). "Council increases contribution for new Christchurch library". The Press. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  10. ^ Law, Tina (14 October 2018). "Thousands visit Christchurch's new $92m central library". The Press. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  11. ^ Reed 2010, p. 138.
  12. ^ Small, Jamie (28 September 2017). "Christchurch's central library gets a name: Tūranga". The Press. Retrieved 19 February 2019.


External links[edit]