New view for tukutuku

Kaokao (variation 2), currently on loan to Christchurch Art Gallery

If you happen to visit the Christchurch Art Gallery in the next few months you’ll see a piece of Christchurch City Libraries on display.

Ten of the library’s tukutuku panels are on temporary loan as part of an exhibition put together by assistant curator Nathan Pohio called ‘Moroki‘. This word refers to something with an ongoing nature and expresses continuity. In this instance the focus is on historic and contemporary Māori artworks that offer insight into the relationships between Māori art and architecture, and is part of a wider exhibition highlighting 19th and 20th century New Zealand art currently on display at the art gallery.

This is not the first time the tukutuku panels have had a temporary change of home.

Created in 2001 as part of a community art project led by Ngā Puna Waihanga, 19 tukutuku panels were installed in Ngā Pounamu Māori, the Māori resource area on the 2nd floor of the Central Library in 2002. 

After the library building was damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes the panels were removed and eventually distributed to a number of libraries around the network. The tukutuku panels currently on loan to the art gallery were previously housed at the Linwood and Aranui libraries. When Tūranga, the new central library building currently under construction in Cathedral Square, opens the tukutuku panels will again be brought together and displayed with the Māori collection.

Tukutuku panels
Tukutuku panels on display in Ngā Pounamu Māori, Central Library, 26 July 2002. Flickr CE-Refurb-MaoriPanels

The ten tukutuku panels currently on display at the art gallery sit across from paintings of Māori architecture and carvings, and the colours, shapes and designs on the panels really have an opportunity to shine when placed alongside other artworks.

If you want to know more about how, why and by whom the library’s tukutuku panels were created check out our Puāwaitanga o te Ringa – Fruits of our busy hands resource for photos of the panels along with explanations of the different designs and their meanings.

Borrow an original Colin McCahon from the library

Ronald O’Reilly
City Librarian Ron O’Reilly in 1958. Setting the bar high for art-loving librarians.

It is true. Back in the day, you could borrow Red and black landscape by Colin McCahon from the library. This blows my mind.

Canterbury Public Library had a lending collection of original New Zealand art works for 37 years. The collection was established by then City Librarian Ron O’Reilly who went on to become Director of the New Zealand Library School in Wellington and of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth.

Original works of art were bought from 2 May 1955 (The cat by Louise Henderson and Untitled (woman with fabric)  by Alison Pickmere) until 4 March 1981 (Oaro & Amuri Bluff by Margaret Rhodes and Things that go bump in the night by Stephanie Sheehan).

In October 2001, 115 paintings were formally gifted to the Christchurch Art Gallery, and more after that.

So have a browse of the Canterbury Public Library collection on the Christchurch Art Gallery website.

And imagine how cool it would have been to have one hanging up in your lounge. Choice.
Red and Black landscape by Colin McCahon