22 Jul 2017

Bishopdale is celebrating the start of a new chapter with the opening of its 21st century library and community centre.

Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre was officially opened this morning.

Members of the community crowd into the new library and community centre.

Members of the community crowd into the new library and community centre.

The new centre backs onto Bishopdale Park and features a library and community meeting spaces  linked by a light-filled atrium.

“The loss of the old Bishopdale Community Centre and Library was a huge blow to the community,’’ says Fendalton Councillor Jamie Gough. “They have waited a long time for a permanent replacement but they now have a modern library and community centre of which they can be very proud.

“I’m delighted to have been part of the opening celebrations today and look forward to many more community gatherings in this fantastic new facility. I'm sure it is going to become a focal point for the community – a warm, welcoming place where people come to connect,’’ Cr Gough says.

Christchurch City Council Head of Libraries and Information Carolyn Robertson is also thrilled to have Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre open.

“We had to close the previous facility at very short notice in November 2011 after it was found to have a seismic capacity well below the New Building Standard,’’ says Ms Robertson.

“The library and community centre had been an important part of the Bishopdale community since 1976 and we quickly set about establishing a temporary library in Bishopdale Mall and finding the perfect location for a new facility.

“This was our chance to create a purpose-built facility that meets all our modern needs and the result is beautiful. Ōrauwhata, with its spaces for people to meet, learn, create, collaborate and try new things is well and truly tailor-made for the community,’’ Ms Robertson says.

The centre includes a hall and a meeting room that can be booked by community groups. The library has 330 square metres of collection space and opens out onto decks.

“With Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre set to open in August and the new central library set to open in mid-2018, we’re getting closer to having a full array of libraries back after the earthquakes – new, improved and designed to meet people's current and future needs,’’ Ms Robertson says.

* Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga gifted the name Ōrauwhata. It means the place of many eel whata - the racks Maori dried eels on for preservation purposes. Bishopdale, in pre-colonial times, was frequently flooded by overflow from the old Waimairi River. Many eels were found in the pools that formed as a result.