David Trubridge — Rotorua Library

David Trubridge

David Trubridge

Hello everyone, we are closed on the 25th March along with the rest of NZ for four weeks due to Covid-19. Stay safe out there!

Rotorua Library was redeveloped as a knowledge and children’s health centre. It was envisioned as not just a library building and not just a children’s health hub; it’s a collaborative approach to a community’s holistic health and well-being. 

It will be a place to learn and grow, a place to gather, a place to get advice and a place to heal, to create something that the country has not seen before.

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Te Aka Mauri, refers to an interconnecting vine (aka) and a life force/essence (mauri). We were asked to create two GroundFloor artworks, a suspended artwork above the children’s library at one end, A tree in the main library at the other end, as a focal gathering place.

The Vine

We illustrated the story of TĀWHAKI, Tāwhaki is Te Arawa’s hero ancestor who climbed up a vine to the heavens to retrieve Kete Wānanga, knowledge. Children are asked to look up — can they spot Tāwhaki amongst the coiling vines? What is he doing up there? The colours used are those cited in TAM for the ground and mezzanine floor. Kāwai, or twining creeper, refers to lines of ancestral descent, and the hau or breeze that blows across the land. Kāwai and aho are the warp and weft of weaving — suggested by the hatched lines — that bind us all together through shared ancestors and hau.

The Tree

We illustrated the story of TĀNE, given in TAM as inspiration. Tāne is the son of Rangi and Papatuanuku; he is the atua of the forests and birds, and his key value to the project is collaborative strength. Tāne also ascended into the heavens in search of mātāpuna, the source of knowledge. We designed a tree that derives its form from native nikau and punga. It spreads upward and outward in its quest for learning, and people can gather around its trunk sitting at a built-in table. A small bird perches in the lower branches, the logo of the sponsoring Charitable Trust; also a link to Tāne. The same patterns of hatched lines in the green Autex material are used, to provide a visual connection to the Tāwhaki work, and to make the same references.

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Untreated radiata plywood and Autex recycled polyester panels are the materials used throughout. The curved arms of Tāne are laminated plywood. These are attached to a central steel pillar firmly bolted to a foundation.


Throughout the design development process we collaborated continuously with Portia McKenzie of Rotorua DC, the client, and Harry Street of GHD Woodhead, the interior architects. The local iwi were also consulted through the Council but we were not given direct access to them. Later there was extensive discussion with Steve Pitman of Fletcher Construction over the installation process. 

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