Rauhine is a community engagement librarian from Hokitika. Her role is funded by the National Libraries Partnership Programme. She’s helping to make her library a more bicultural space and to take Te Ao Māori programmes out into the community. Michelle is from Tairawhiti and works at the HB Williams Memorial Library in collections and customer services.
Together they recently spent an amazing and intense week in Wellington. “It’s been really eye opening, everyone’s really passionate about what they do here and friendly,” says Michelle.
Their week started with a mihi whakatau at the Alexander Turnbull Library with the Māori staff. The team had pulled out artefacts from the collection from each of their local areas. “That was a beautiful welcome,” said Rauhine.
They met with Cellia Joe Olsen and heard more about the Alexander Turnbull Library and Te Rōpū Whakahau. Their tour around the library allowed them to see a Goldie and Lindauer painting as well as some of the collection and the history of our nation. They visited Newtown Library with Zoe Miller and met with some of the younger team members, hearing about how they were engaging with their communities.
Rauhine says, “Our National Library visit was tailored on what we wanted to learn. I wanted to hear more about the Ngā Upoko Tukutuku, also the Māori delivery of programmes and what the library does in that context, and to find out how the National Library supports public and school libraries over the country.”
Michelle said her goals were similar. “We have a significant Māori community and I wanted to see what I could take back, what National Library does and how they do it. I wanted to find out new ways that we could work with our communities that might be successful for us.”
“I wasn’t aware of the schools programme before I came here, where they bring schools in to see Te Tiriti, whakaputanga and the He Tohu documents held here,” says Rauhine.
“We’ve been able to look at the rooms (I could call them halls) where the conservators work. We got to see the restoration of a really old book. Just seeing the amount of effort that goes in to preserve these books and paintings was amazing, the paintings they worked on looked brand new.”
“It’s really amazing going through all the different rooms housing these taonga. The rare books area – it’s phenomenal,” Michelle says.
“One of the storage areas we went into is kept at two degrees. You can only stay in there for 20 minutes at a time and you must wear a coat in there. That’s where they store the film negatives,” Rauhine commented.
If you love your job as a librarian Michelle and Rauhine encourage others to apply for the Helen Zwartz Scholarship in 2022.- The experience is amazing, they say.
Rachel Esson National Librarian Te Pouhuaki with Michelle Kupenga (left) and Rauhine Coakley. Image credit Llewelyn Jones, Imaging Services, National Library