Te Ara Ātea

Outside view

Nau mai, haere mai ki Te Ara Ātea.

Welcome to the unobstructed trail to the world and beyond.

Te Ara Ātea is the soon-to-be manawa of Rolleston’s new town centre. A multifunctional civic centre, it is going to be a place of discovery, community gathering and sharing knowledge.

As well as being a library, Te Ara Ātea will house a community lounge with a fireplace and attached café. It will have spaces that can be booked for meetings, presentations and performances, as well as a tamariki zone.

Te Ara Ātea will cater for creativity and nourish your cultural soul. Its studio space will feature 3D printers, production software and the latest tech to explore. The workshop area will have tools and space for programmes. Art exhibitions and performances will be ongoing. The jewel in the crown, however, is Te Waka Huia with beautifully curated taonga displays.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet reflective spot, creative hub, a sensory experience, or a good read, Te Ara Ātea will have it.

And that’s just inside the building.

Te Ara Ātea is designed for you to flow freely from its inside to outdoor spaces, where you will find accessible raised gardens, edible plants, an area for a farmers’ market and seating.

This is going to be an inclusive place for you to learn, connect with family and friends, and meet new people.

When does it open?

Te Ara Ātea will open in late 2021.

Come and celebrate Te Ara Ātea, the new manawa of our town.

Stairway image of Te Ara Atea

The story behind the name


Te Taumutu Runanga has gifted the name, Te Ara Ātea, to the community.

Te Ara Ātea means unobstructed trail to the world and beyond. The name expresses a notion that this is a place for learning, gathering, connecting, exploring and celebrating the district’s heritage and people.

Based near the south-eastern corner of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere), Te Taumutu Rūnanga is one of the 18 papatipu rūnanga of Ngāi Tahu, the principal Māori iwi of Te Waipounamu (South Island).

Ngāi Tahu individuals exist within their whānau. That whānau lives within a clan, or groups of whānau known as a hapū. The various hapū, as a collective, unite as an iwi. Superimposed on that paradigm is the papatipu rūnanga structure. As such, papatipu rūnanga uphold the mana of their people over land, sea and resources.

Te Taumutu Rūnanga are the mana whenua in this region. Among their responsibilities, is to champion cultural traditions and stories. Hence the gifting of the name.

Te Ara Ātea reflects and recognises the building’s location within a network of traditional Ngāi Tahu settlements and mahinga kai areas on the central part of the Canterbury Plains. Of particular importance to this network are the trails that connect the many mahinga kai sites on the shores of Te Waihora and across the plains to the Waimakariri in the north and the foothills of the Southern Alps to the west.

Photos: Te Ara Ātea building in progress

With the construction of Te Ara Ātea now in its final stages, here is a sneak peek at what it looks like at the moment.

Inside view