Pounamu piece arrives for display at library

19:03, Dec 17 2012
HEAVY: Members of local iwi and Ngai Tahu carrying the 300kg pounamu.

Most visitors to Palmerston North City Library travel only a short distance, but the journey for one special arrival took nearly 30 years.

It ended on Saturday when a piece of pounamu, called Te Ao o te Aroha, weighing almost 300 kilograms was carried to the library from Te Manawa by members of local iwi and Ngai Tahu, who gave the greenstone to the city.

Carried on a carved rata table, the pounamu will now rest in the foyer of the city library.

Library manager Anthony Lewis said he was humbled to receive such a taonga.

"I just feel overwhelmed."

Its arrival was timely as the library was undertaking a review of how it operated. He hoped the stone would be a symbol of a new era for the library.


"We're in this big change process and change is always a difficult thing. One of the things it provides is an opportunity for a new beginning."

The greenstone was carted out of the Arahura River in a wheelbarrow about 30 years ago.

It was kept by a West Coast artist and found its way to Palmerston North after conversations between Mr Lewis, former Palmerston North resident and artist Albert McCarthy and Ngai Tahu members.

Several Ngai Tahu members helped bring the pounamu to the library from Te Manawa.

The stone had been kept at Te Manawa while a rata stand was carved to hold it and a home was found for it.

Mr Lewis said the stone's location in the foyer was selected as an extension of the entranceway's welcome wall. Looking from the doorway, the Maori greeting on the wall was directly above the stone.

The pounamu was not just to be looked at though. Mr Lewis said visitors were welcome to touch it.

"I defy anybody to walk by without wanting to touch it," Mr Lewis said.

Manawatu Standard