Monday, May 27, 2024

Electrifying new chapter for NZ’s oldest library service

Dunedin City Council has rolled out the city’s first electric book bus – Te Pahi Pukapuka – marking an exciting new chapter in the oldest continuous mobile library service in New Zealand.

The new fully electric bookbus will, from today, be taking to Dunedin’s streets to service a community of readers less able to reach Dunedin’s libraries. The new vehicle carries more than 2,000 books and will also help the Council reach its Zero Carbon 2030 goal.

Council General Manager Community Services, Simon Pickford says the Dunedin Public Libraries’ Mobile Library Service began in April 1950 with one bus and 10 stops, but has since grown to two vehicles and 42 stops across the city.

About 50,000 visitors use the service each year, together borrowing about 50,000 items annually.

“Our bookbuses provide an invaluable service for communities across Dunedin, particularly to the elderly and those with young families, mobility issues or without a car,” said Mr Pickford.

“Our investment in this new vehicle means we can continue to deliver this valued service to our community in a more sustainable way, and we’re delighted to see the first fully electric bus rolling out.”

The artwork adorning Te Pahi Pukapuka has been designed by Dunedin-based artist Aroha Novak, supported by mana whenua representatives through their consulting company Aukaha. Her work is based on the story of Matamata, a taniwha from Kāti Māmoe tradition which is said to have created the twists and turns of the Taiari River (the correct spelling of Taieri River) and scooped out the Otago Harbour.

The design also features twittering Piwakawaka fluttering around Matamata, while rays of sunshine are also leaves of an open book, offering possibilities to escape into different worlds of storytelling.

The new vehicle cost $693,000, with a second replacement electric vehicle planned for later this year.

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