Te Aka Mauri – Rotorua Library and Children’s Health Hub
Te Aka Mauri was opened February 2018 with a high degree of public interest, since a collaboration of this kind was unprecedented and signals a new way to consider children’s wellbeing in an area facing significant issues with providing healthcare and education services. Te Aka Mauri comprises four floors and is located right in the heart of the CBD, next to Jean Batten Square, stretching the full length from Arawa Street to Haupapa Street.
Te Aka Mauri resulted from a collaboration between Lakes District Health Board (LDHB) and the Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC), their objective was to develop a shared facility that would provide both educational and health services. The existing Rotorua Library’s central location, large area of the space, access to main transport hubs and opportunities to deliver complementary environments were all positive factors.
The existing Rotorua Library was redeveloped as a knowledge hub and children’s health centre, envisioned not just as a library or health hub, but as a collaborative approach to the community’s holistic health and wellbeing. Delivered collaboratively by RLC and LDHB, Te Aka Mauri Library and Children’s Health Hub is a welcoming facility for all, providing a one-stop hub for learning, knowledge, inspiration, health and wellbeing.
The brief entailed a remodel of the existing 6,000m2 library, making space for a new children’s health facility, including mental health services, community meeting spaces, a parents’ room and multi-sensory digitised spaces. The intention of the refurbishment was to make a statement about the community’s identity, reflecting culturally and spiritually appropriate Māori designs that showcase Te Arawa’s and Rotorua’s unique identities.
Based on Nga Mahinga Toi’s advice on Mātauranga Māori (Māori World View), local identity was communicated using unique colours and patterns for each floor, which added cultural richness throughout the building. The colours used are bright and fresh, dramatically changing the interior and creating a more vibrant environment that is child and family friendly. The facility’s interior design layout and spatial plans were purposely designed to draw people deep into the building, in order to enhance familiarity and usage.
Warm timbers and modern aluminium trims contrasted with fresh whites and bright feature walls delivered a clean, modern feeling in what was a previously dated and cluttered space. Furniture was chosen for its simplicity of shape and solid hues that introduced bright pops of colour into the space.
Te Aka Mauri represents a national, if not world, first, attracting interest from librarians and health administrators globally. Since opening, Te Aka Mauri has gone from strength to strength, with library use and DHB children’s attendance rates continually increasing.
The concept is a ground-breaking and successful example of what can be achieved for our community when local and central government organisations collaborate on difficult problems and focus on reversing trends, presenting as a model that could be replicated elsewhere in New Zealand, and beyond.