Tākaka's Second and Third Libraries



The Council building on Commercial Street, Tākaka. The library was housed in a dark and small office on the right hand side of the door.

On 3 June 1947 the matter of establishing a library service was once again raised at a meeting of the Tākaka Town Board. Calls for a public meeting were made which took place that same month. The Nelson Evening Mail of 21 June 1947 stated that it was “remarkable that [in] a township the size of Tākaka there was no library.” (1).

The public meeting produced results. It was resolved to establish a public library in Tākaka under the jurisdiction of the Town Board and that a librarian would be appointed at a salary of £26 per year. There would also be a fund of £50 to purchase books. A set of subscription charges were suggested and rules were to be set by a special library committee. A month later the Town Board chose not to charge a subscription rate. All residents of the town district could use the library for free. 

On 12 September 1947 the library was officially opened. It was located in a front office of the existing Council Building opposite the Post Office and from the minute it opened it was always deemed inadequate.

Takaka Library

Tākaka Memorial Library in 2007

In 1949 steps were taken to secure the vacant Post and Telegraph department section between the postmaster’s house and the Bank of New Zealand. The idea was to erect a purpose-built library with a small car park beside it. A tender for the work was accepted in 1953.

The Tākaka Memorial Library was officially opened on 25 April 1955, although it had been in operation since July 1954. A memorial plaque to those who gave their lives in the two World Wars was erected in the entranceway (2).

In 1954 there were 989 members and issues for the first month of operation were 2,750. Forty years later issues for one month were 10,168. During the 1960s the Golden Bay County Council took over the administration of the library from the library committee. 

Takaka Library

Takaka Memorial Library in 2009.

Things did not always run smoothly. Floods soaked the entire flooring in 1967 and by 1982 the library was once again too small for the needs of the public. The first of two extensions was made that year but in 1983 floods occurred again and the new carpet was completely ruined. The water level in the town was so high that the librarian was flown in by helicopter in order to begin saving the books and start clearing up. The water in the building was over 300 mm high (3). In 1988 the second extension was made. At least 170 people were at the opening of the new extension on 22 July, with a musical tribute to Berna Soper who had served as librarian since 1973. There was an amnesty on overdue fines. Perhaps this was a comic nod to a newspaper article of 26 October 1985 which called Berna ‘The Dragon’ and stated that she would ring those with overdue books. “One week she rang 42 people!”.

Once again the library proved inadequate for the demands of a book-loving population. A new library building was to be constructed alongside the car park opening off Reilly Street. The old memorial building was vacated in 2008 and the new library began operations in April of that year (4).

The old building was leased out by the council but burned down in October 2010 (5). 

Panel 6 Tākaka's Second and Third Libraries: From Heritage Golden Bay, 2018

Sources used in this story

  1. (1947, June 21). Nelson Evening Mail
  2. Takaka war memorial. (2008). Retrieved from Ministry for Culture & Heritage, New Zealand History Online: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/memorials/nelson
  3. Clark, A. (1983). The wrath of the waters: the 1983 Takaka Valley flood. Nelson, N.Z. : The Author. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/247489426 
  4. Warm welcome for Bay's new library. (2008, May 13). Nelson Mail, p.2.
  5. Fire-gutted old library set to be demolished today. (2010, October 6). Nelson Mail, p.2.

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Further sources - Tākaka's Second and Third Libraries



  • Alice, C. (2010, October 2). Blaze guts Takaka business Old library building destroyed. Nelson Mail, p.1.
  • Brandon, S. (2003, December 18). Yard preferred site for new library. Nelson Mail, p. 6.  
  • Ward, N. (2015, July). The ageless assistant - sixty years of library work from card pockets and stamps to e-books and cannabis bookmarks.

    Librarylife (Online), n.436:p.11. retrieved from:https://www.librariesaotearoa.org.nz/library-life.html