News | 21 March 2024
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Fun facts about Te Matapihi Central Library

We are about a third of the way through the strengthening and modernising of Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui, our Central Library, with the project tracking on time and within budget. Read on to discover interesting facts about this iconic building and how it will be a space for everyone when it opens in early 2026.

A high-angle view of the strengthening and modernising construction work happening at Wellington's Central Library in Te Ngākau Civic Square.
We are currently strengthening and modernising Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui, Our Central Library, in Te Ngākau Civic Square. Photo by Neil Price.
  1. Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui translates to The Window to the Wider World. The name was given to the library by Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) when the building opened in 1991.

  2. The building will be 17,000 sqm, from the basement to level 4. Levels 3 and 4 of the original building are being extended to increase the floor area by approximately 880 square metres.

  3. All 49 piles (that went down as far as 21 metres before they hit rock) have been installed and the first base isolators have been put in. A new ground floor concrete slab is being poured using a composite flooring system (ComFlor) which is progressing as planned.

  4. The construction team has begun creating a seismic gap, called a rattle zone, on Victoria Street. This is effectively a trench around the building so that in the event of an earthquake the building - separated from the ground on its base isolators and sliders - will have a space to move into. This should be complete in early 2025.
Steel and wooden framing on the construction of the new Central Library in Wellington.
Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui, Level 2 Southern projection. Image provided by Acrow.
  1. The library will be structurally remediated to greater than 100% NBS IL3. NBS (New Building Standard) is the criteria established by the New Zealand Building Code. This indicates a building’s ability to withstand an earthquake. IL3 (Importance Level) relates to the criteria for a building of this type.

  2. Te Matapihi will aim to be a New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) 5-star rated building. This will help towards the goal of making Wellington a zero-carbon city (net zero emissions) by 2050. Green Star is an independent tool that rates a building’s overall environmental impact across nine categories. Read more about Green Star here.

  3. Through a co-design relationship, Taranaki Whānui and the Council have bravely reimagined Te Matapihi by investigating the evolving intersection between traditional libraries, information services, and the unique environmental origins of Pōneke, with the adjacent Te Ngākau Civic Square having always been instrumental in shaping the cultural identity of Pōneke. Te Matapihi will showcase our taonga and special collections of mana whenua and subsequent settler communities’ heritage.

  4. Te Matapihi will integrate our Library services with Capital E, City Archives, and the Council’s Service Centre; from self-service (e.g. borrowing collections, reading, and study spaces); to fully supported activities and events such as exhibitions, cultural experiences, and school programmes.
Artist's impression of the large, multi-storey Central Library building in Wellington, complete with nikau fern sculptures and landscaping.
Artist's impression of the new building viewed from Harris Street, December 2022.
  1. The building will have four entrances, with three at ground level. There will be a cafe on the ground level, connected to Te Ngākau Civic Square.

  2. Te Matapihi will provide innovatively designed facilities, balancing space for relaxation, recreational reading, study, learning, and knowledge exploration, with space for our city’s treasures and collections.

  3. There will be exciting new ways to connect with our city’s library and archives collections. This will include digital experiences and physical spaces so that people can interact, create, and learn, while still having a comfortable space to read books.

Our Central Library, before it closed, was Wellington’s most significant social infrastructure, playing the role of our city’s community ‘living room’.

When it re-opens, Te Matapihi will once again be an integral part of the beating heart of our capital city and the life of Wellington. It will be a space for everyone, with each experience a window to knowledge and connection.

Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui will be the first of multiple Te Ngākau Civic Square projects that will bring our communities together for shared learning and discovery, and creative, cultural, democratic, and arts experiences.