Topic: A Potted History

Topic type:

A short history of the libraries that make up Tararua District Libraries.

About Our Libraries

Pahiatua Library built by the Jaques Bros in 1963. This building housed both Borough Council Chambers and Library and is situated on the corner of Kiwi and Main Streets. The previous librarians who worked in this building were Mrs Kath Beech, Miss Nancy Barnes, Mrs Pam Parkes with the assistance of Mrs Elaine Perry, Toni Higginson, and Wyn Davidson. Mrs Parkes became librarian in 1992 and on her retirement, Wyn Davidson was appointed to this position, assisted by Mrs Diane Chapman and Mrs Margaret Allardice, (since retired). The library has seen many changes both in management and technology. From the Council, to a Library Trust and back to Council, and from the old card system to computers.

Dannevirke Public Library: The original privately funded library was a small wooden Allardice Street house, situated where the skate bowl now is. Then Andrew Carnegie (a Scottish steel magnate based in the USA) used his fortune to build 2,507 libraries of which 828 were outside the USA - 18 of these were new libraries in NZ.  Mr Carnegie donated 2000 pounds and this paid for the building of the Carnegie Library in Allardice Street, which opened 27 May 1908. By 1984, the Carnegie building had become too small, so the library was moved into part of  the current council building. In 1994, the council needed more space so a purpose built library was constructed on Station Street, and the library moved into the current premises in 1994.  For most of it's life, the public library has been council funded, but for a short time the library was run by a Trust.  The library reverted back to council funding in 2003.


  • 1908 - 1983 Carnegie Building Allardice St
  • 1984 - 1994 Council building  Gordon St      
  • 1994 - current Current Library Station St


Eketahuna Library: The Eketahuna Library was in the Borough Council building on Main St. It used to occupy a fairly small area at the rear while the large front room was a newspaper room with the different newspapers laid out on individual tables. Later they were swapped over and the Library occupied the front room with a small room next door for a reading room. This building has since been demolished.

In 1994 the Library was moved to its present position, in what had been the Eketahuna County Council Office, by this time the Tararua District Council Office, on the corner of Bridge and Main St.

In 2002 walls were removed and the Library and Service Centre were combined.

Woodville Library

According to the Woodville Examiner, Wednesday 10 October 1883, the earliest written account in the Library, an article drew readers attention to a grant of six thousand pounds for libraries in the Colonies. It was suggested that the management of Woodville Public Library could be interested. There were two requirements that Woodville did not meet, however.  Woodville was not yet a Borough, nor did it have a reading room providing free public usage.

It appears that these obstacles were overcome, because on Saturday 8 December 1883, the Chairman reported a grant of ten pounds had been made.

"Perhaps one of the most valuable institutions that the colony has ever yet made, has been the encouragement and aid to the establishment of libraries for public use."

That particular meeting also stated that the Chairman was to hold the honourable post of Librarian - that being William G Crawford who said the open hours for the library were Tuesday and Friday afternoons.  There were "valuable works on many subjects, practical and scientific, books of travel and adventure, history, biography, and high literature embracing the works of Scott, Thackeray, Dickens ...."

Earlier in February 1879, a public meeting was held to apply for money for a school library. It was decided, however to form a Public Library instead.  A school room was to be the library with custodians taking care of the books. This room was also used for public meetings and church services.

In February 1886, at the Annual Meeting of subscribers, "there was but a limited attendance" and funds were low because of the 100 subscribers, only half had paid their subscriptions which amounted in total to nine pounds five shillings.  Miss Jackson had that year been given two pounds two shillings for acting as custodian and looking after the books.

The following year in September, a reading room with two living rooms was opened. This became the residence of Mrs Grayland and was situated in Ormond St.

In 1903 a resolution was passed asking the Borough Council to take over the Library.

In 1937 the Library contained 4918 books.


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