The pou project

Picture of the pou outside Whangārei Central Library.

On the approach to the Whangārei Central Library from Rust Avenue, the 10 pou highlight its entranceway.

The poles in the original design by Jasmax, the architects for the new library building, became pouihi. The total number was reduced from 14 to 10 so that they did not overwhelm the entrance to the building. Each pou is 7 metres tall and approximately 500 mm in diameter.

In what we believe to be a first for New Zealand and perhaps internationally, only five of the poles were carved by, and represent, Māori. The rest have been carved or decorated by other cultural groups and one, the Generic Pou - Te Ngira, represents all cultures.

As there was no additional money available for the pou in the new library building project, they were financed by community fundraising. Many others have contributed materials, transport and equipment and have given generously of their time.

The pou project was led by Te Warihi Hetaraka, who also carved the Generic Pou - Te Ngira.

The donors of the totara trees, Penny and Ean Brown, were identified by kaumatua Te Ihi Tito in February 2005. Te Ihi and Whangarei Libraries manager Pauline Rose, travelled to the Brown’s Mangakahia farm and selected the trees, which included a ‘double tree’ that later became the ideal base for the Korean carving. The trees were felled in late March by Tokoroa Cable Loggers (Sam Papa) and transported by Tane Logging (Thomas Murray), free of charge. They were taken to Whangārei to weather and dry for a few months.

Te Warihi Hetaraka secured Te Wananga o Aotearoa carving school in Whangārei to house the Maori carvers and those from other cultures who wished to work there.

The four Māori pou were carved by:

  • Hohepa (Joseph) Hemara: Creative Realm pou - Te Tihi o Manono
  • Korari (Cory) Boyd: Graduand pou - Te Tohunga
  • Peneamine (Ben) Werohia: Celestial Realm pou - Io Matua Kore Rangi-tū-hāhā
  • Thomas Ruahi: Tāne te Wānanga pou

The 28th Maori Battalion pou was carved by Alan and Thomas Wihongi.

The Korean pou was carved by Paul Kim.

The Pacific Islands pou was carved by Kerry Strongman and Faimau Robati.

The Celtic pou was carved by 14 teenage descendants of original Celtic settlers under the direction of Douglas Chowns and Master Carver Malcolm Adams.

The Dalmatian pou was carved by David Sarich in Kaitaia.

Work on the pou began in August 2005 and the carvings were completed by May 2006, apart from the Dalmatian pou which was started later than the others.  Kiwi Timber Protection (Adrian and Alan Broughton) provided timber treatment for the pou once they had been carved.

The Maori carvers and Te Ihi Tito worked with an engineer to install a metal insert/base to mount the pou.  The pou were then delivered to the library site for installation during the first week of May.  Copper bands were added to protect the bolt holes. They were wrapped in shrouds to be revealed at the official opening of the new library building.

A blessing and unveiling ceremony was held for the pou at dawn on Saturday 13 May 2006 before the official opening of the new Whangārei Central Library by then Prime Minister, Helen Clark. A separate unveiling and blessing for the Dalmatian Pou was held on Saturday 8 September 2007.