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The Pou

Information about the project to install ten pouihi outside Whangarei Central Library - Wānanga Whakatupu Mātauranga.
Updated: 17/12/2020 1:21 p.m.

The pou outside Whangarei Central Library.

On the approach to the Whangarei Central Library from both ends of Rust Avenue, the 10 pou highlight the entranceway.

The poles in the original Jasmax design for the new Library building became pouihi. The total number was reduced from 14 to 10 so that they did not overwhelm the entrance to the building (each pou is seven metres tall and approximately 500mm in diameter). 

In what we believe to be a first for New Zealand and perhaps internationally, only five of the poles were carved by, and represent, Maori.  The rest have been carved or decorated by other cultural groups and one, the Generic Pou, represents all cultures.

As there was no additional money available for the pou in the new Library building project, they were financed by community fundraising.

The people involved in the Pouihi Project

The pou project was led by Te Warihi Hetaraka, who also carved the generic pou.

A donor for the totara pou was identified in February 2005 by Kaumatua Te Ihi Tito who selected the totara on Penny and Ean Brown’s Mangakahia Farm along with Pauline Rose in March 2005.  The trees were felled in late March, and transported to Whangarei to weather and dry for a few months.

Extraction was done by Tokoroa Cable Loggers (Sam Papa) and transport by Tane Logging (Thomas Murray), free of charge for all the trees.  Kiwi Timber Protection (Adrian and Alan Broughton) provided timber treatment for the pou once they had been carved.

Most of the logs were eventually transported to Te Wananga O Aotearoa carving school in Whangarei and work began on the first pou (Maori Battalion and Korean) in approximately August 2005.  Work on the pou  continued in the following months, including the Celtic pou which was carved at Whangarei Heads Primary School by a group of 14 teenage descendants of Celtic settlers as part of a Celtic immersion week in January 2006. The Dalmatian pou which was started later than the others. 

The carvers

The four Maori pou were carved by:

  • Korari (Cory) Boyd
  • Hohepa (Joseph) Hemara
  • Thomas Ruahi
  • Peneamine (Ben) Werohia

The 28th Maori Battalion pou was carved by Alan & Thomas Wihongi.

The Korean pou was carved by Paul Kim.

The Pacific Islands pou was carved by Kerry Strongman and Faimau Robati.

The Celtic pou was carved by 14 teenage descendants of original Celtic settlers under the direction of fine artist Douglas Chowns and master carver Malcolm Adams.

The Dalmatian pou was carved by David Sarich.

The Maori carvers and Te Ihi Tito worked with an engineer to install a metal insert/base to mount the pou. Copper bands were added to protect the bolt holes. The pou were then delivered to the library site for erection (covered) by the official opening of the new Library on 13 May 2006.

Many others have contributed materials, transport and equipment and have given generously of their time.

A blessing and unveiling ceremony was held for the pou before the official opening of the new Whangarei Central Library by then Prime Minister Helen Clark.



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