Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui
Te Matapihi | Central Library

Find out what’s going on with the Te Matapihi Central Library project and learn more about how we’re strengthening and modernising for the future.

Artist's impression of the new library building viewed from Victoria Street.

Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui, our Central Library, will be a space for everyone, with each experience opening a window to knowledge and connection, and a sense of belonging. It will be a place where people can learn, cultures and communities can connect and everyone can enjoy access to special public spaces.

About Te Matapihi

Wellingtonians love their libraries, and Te Matapihi Central Library has a special place in their hearts. That’s why the Council confirmed in 2020 that the building would be remediated to the highest standard (base isolation), following its closure to the public in March 2019.

In 2020, work began on the future for Te Matapihi. This process involved consultation with the Wellington public, including mana whenua, and many other key stakeholders and partners. The feedback was clear: Wellingtonians wanted Te Matapihi to be first and foremost a safe, resilient, and future-proofed library, a centre for public knowledge, and a multipurpose, multi-use resource for the community.

As a result of that community engagement, in April 2021 Council adopted the following guiding principles:

  • Engage fully with mana whenua
  • Design for the visitor
  • Harness the power of partnership
  • Make it a modern library, fit for purpose, make it Wellington.

When Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui reopens you will find:

  • the Central Library Services
  • the City Archive
  • the Council customer services
  • on-site Capital E services for young people to grow their creativity
  • a large ground floor café
  • active spaces for meeting and making connections
  • quiet spaces to study and read.

The target is for the building to be New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) 5-star rated, meaning it has a high standard in terms of environmentally sustainable design. 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 on NZGB website.

Through a co-design relationship, Taranaki Whānui and the Council are bravely reimagining Te Matapihi by investigating the evolving intersection between traditional libraries, information services, and the unique environmental origins of Pōneke. The adjacent Te Ngākau Civic Square has 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.

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.

Project milestones

  • March 2019: Library closure
  • July 2020: Community consultation on the future of the library
  • October 2020: Council approval to strengthen the building
  • April 2021: Design principles agreed
  • April 2022: Preliminary design approved 
  • December 2022: LT McGuiness begins construction
  • September 2023: Detail design complete. All 49 piles installed (piles went down as far as 21 metres before they hit rock).
  • November 2023: First base isolators installed.
  • February 2024: The creation of a seismic gap, called a rattle zone commenced. 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.
  • March 2024: A new ground floor concrete slab is being poured using a composite flooring system (ComFlor).
  • Early 2025: Building envelope complete (back to having walls and windows).
  • Mid 2025: Landscaping.
  • June 2025 onwards: Book collections move back in.
  • September 2025: Practical completion (this is when the building is handed over to the Council).
  • February 2026: Library fit-out.
  • Early 2026: Opening day.


Read the latest news and updates and follow the progress of the construction through images and video.

Watch a quick video of the installation of the tower crane at Te Mataphi:

The design team

The design team includes specialists from Athfield Architects who designed the original building in 1991, Aurecon, Tihei, Wraight & Associates, and Māpuna.

Construction company LT McGuinness has also provided vital input into the design process, by engaging with the team through a formal Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) agreement.

A project this large also requires the skills and expertise of RCP Project Management and RLB Quantity Surveyor, tracking and guiding the budget.

About the closure

After the Kaikoura earthquake, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), in partnership with the engineering fraternity, commissioned guidelines on how to assess pre-cast concrete flooring systems. These guidelines were published in November 2018.

The Council commissioned an engineering assessment of the Central Library building using these MBIE guidelines as the library has this flooring system.

The assessment revealed that the building has structural vulnerabilities that mean it may not perform well in the event of a significant earthquake.

The engineers' report

Engineering Assessment Memo (1.9MB PDF)
Engineering Assessment (317KB PDF)

Contact us

While Te Matapihi is being restored you can visit our two libraries in the city centre – Arapaki Manners Library and Te Awe in Brandon Street– or any our branches around the city.

For locations, opening hours and services visit the Wellington City Libraries website.

If you have any questions contact us.
Email: enquiries@wcl.govt.nz
Phone: 04 801 4040