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Tukutuku panels set to be revealed

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Staff from Christchurch City Libraries will be coming together this week to attend a blessing ceremony for the 33 tukutuku panels they have worked hard to create over the past few months.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of public library service in Christchurch, library teams and customers have been busy working together to design and create these fantastic works of art, which are set to be unveiled on Friday at South Library.

It’s the first time library staff will have the opportunity to check out their competing teams entries and be formally recognised by their team leaders for their hard work and dedication to the project.

The impetus for the tukutuku panels came from the 150th Anniversary Project Team who were looking for a bicultural activity to celebrate their milestone year. Following the success of the traditional tukutuku panels that were created in 2001-2002, the project team thought a continuation of this theme would be a great way to involve both staff and the community in the celebrations.

“We wanted to highlight our commitment to biculturalism, involve staff and customers and end up with something that was visually appealing and meaningful” says Carolyn Robertson, Unit Manager Libraries and Information, Christchurch City Council.

Tukutuku is a traditional woven Māori art form often used to record or signify events, histories or anything of significance to its creators. Traditional tukutuku panels are created using strict cultural protocols however for this project, it was decided to use alternative materials.

“It wouldn’t have been entirely practical for library staff to use the traditional plant materials of kiekie, pingao and kākaho for this project. So to make the process easier and enable wider participation, these tukutuku panels were instead created using non-traditional, contemporary materials” says Carolyn.

Library colleagues attended practical workshops where they were briefed on the project and provided with meanings behind various Māori patterns, along with an example of how to incorporate traditional concepts in their contemporary designs.

“We are all incredibly impressed with the level of thought that has gone in to these panels. The final designs are of such a high standard and the teamwork and effort put in to creating them is extremely admirable and a real achievement for Christchurch City Libraries” says Carolyn.

Each panel represents the history and uniqueness of the library that has weaved them and the story behind each will be displayed alongside each panel.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to vote online at for their favourite panel between 23 July - 5 August. The panel voted the best by the public wins morning tea for their whole team.

The 32 panels will be revealed at South Library on Friday 24 July in a private blessing ceremony led by Ngāi Tahu Kaumatua, Rakiihia Tau, highlighting the efforts of each of the contributors. The blessing represents cultural protection, ensuring that the exhibits will be safe and marking the completion of the project. The display will then open to the public when the library opens at 10 am on Saturday 25 July.

The tukutuku panels will remain in South Library in Beckenham until Wednesday 26 August, when they will then be returned to their library of origin for display.