East Takaka Library

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East Takaka Library

1. Library Return for Upper and East Takaka in 1876.

Land was surveyed for the East Takaka library in the early 1870s by Charles Lewis. He set aside a small corner section of his property, for the library building, which was to revert to the landowner when the library was no longer required. 

It is not known precisely when the library Opened, but a Library Return for the year ending 31 December 1876 would indicate that it had been open since at least 1875. Eric Sparrow, in his diary, noted the opening of the Upper Takaka Library in 1875 but was this a coincidence or was he referring to the library at East Takaka? The 1876 Library Return is for Upper and East Takaka which seems to suggest that the two libraries might have been one. Certainly a search of the records could only show a library in Upper Takaka itself from around 1916. Whatever the case, there was a library in East Takaka by 1876 and it was one of the four libraries in Golden Bay which received government grants in 1884. 

In 1886 the Lucas Almanac mentions its existence and librarians for the period 1886 - 1905 were F Gapper, J Handcock and Miss Baigent. (1).

East Takaka Library sketch

2. Sketch of East Takaka Library drawn by Bernard Lewis in the 1990s. Courtesy of Beryl Rogers.

There are no known photographs of the building but a sketch of it was made by Bernard Lewis from memory in the 1990s. He said that it was about 30 ft long by about 15 ft wide (9m by 4.5m) and had sash windows in the front. It was situated on the corner of the old cross roads behind the East Takaka Church, opposite the tram stop when the Takaka Tramway was in operation (1882 - 1905). It was a small one roomed building with the books on shelves around the walls while a table in the middle served as a ping-pong table when the need arose! 

In August of 1912 a function was held to celebrate “the opening of a new library” according to the Colonist newspaper. Whether this was a new building or merely a refurbishment is not known but it is thought by East Takaka locals that the library has always been in the same location (2). 

The library was placed in a trust on 8 April 1921 and when the Takaka Library opened in the Council Building in Commercial Street in 1947, the East Takaka library closed its doors for the last time. 

East Takaka Library map

3. East Takaka, showing the location of the library.

Affairs were wound up by the Public Trust and the building was put up for tender. It was sold to Mr A H Bickley for £77.

The title deeds for the land were transferred to Mr A F Lewis who owned the surrounding land and the books were taken over by the Takaka Council.

Panel 5 East Takaka Library : From Heritage Golden Bay 2018

Sources used in this story

  1. Lucas, R. (1886) The Nelson almanac, directory and year book. Nelson, N.Z. R Lucas and Son. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/992197669 
  2. Country news. (1912, August 9). Colonist, p. 3. Retrieved from Papers Past:  https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/TC19120809.2.15 

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