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Te Ara Whetū – the name of the new Waikanae Library

14 May 2024, 2:40 PM

Te Ara Whetū

By Mayor Holborow

This week Council accepted from Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai their gift of the name ‘Te Ara Whetū’ for the new Waikanae Library.

We are honoured to accept this beautiful name which speaks to the significance of the location of the library. Mahara Place is an area steeped in Māori history and is the location of Whakarongotai Marae.

Te Ara Whetū literally translates to ‘the passage (ara) of stars (whetū)’. But the story behind the name goes further. It directly relates to the concept of ‘mountains to sea’, and the the library is located in the middle of this view.

The name also references water which flows from streams high up in the Tararua Ranges to the Waikanae River and eventually into the Tasman Sea. The path of this water connects the mountains to the sea and to our district’s icon, Kāpiti Island. These water sources are the source of life and sustenance for our peoples.

Acknowledging the library’s new name during the early design phase allows us to incorporate its stories into the building’s design in a transparent way which we can openly explain. For example, the designers could look at ways of providing the mountains-to-sea view shaft or adding water elements to represent our awa (streams and rivers).

Te Ara Whetū – the passage of stars - is an uplifting and aspirational name. It’s befitting of a library and community hub which will inspire, protect and nuture current and future generations.

Just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, Te Ara Whetū will always be a library first and foremost.