Books be free

On Saturday 05 June 2021, a fine day with a bit of sunshine, about 40 or 50 people and several dogs gathered to launch the Awa Pukapuka, the Little Free Library, at the corner of Drake Street and Waikawa Beach Road.

Around 40 people and a few dogs helped launch Awa Pukapuka.
Around 40 people and a few dogs helped launch Awa Pukapuka.

Camiel set the tone with some music.
Camiel set the tone with some music.

Anja Geelen and Theo van Schoonhoven created the library from an old Optimist boat they spotted and bought back before the Covid-19 shutdown of 2020. A lot of hard work went into repairing the shell of the boat and building in the shelves and cupboards.

Theo and Anja with the Awa Pukapuka they made and donated to the community. Photo by Stephen Betts.
Anja Geelen and Theo van Schoonhoven with the Awa Pukapuka they made and donated to the community. Photo by Stephen Betts.

Eventually though, it was done. With general support and assistance from the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association, and many members of the community a location was decided and application made to the Horowhenua District Council for permission to site Awa Pukapuka at the corner of Drake Street and Waikawa Beach Road.

Next came installation assistance from Alistair Lang and Tim Wilson. An original Optimist boat might not be too heavy for one person to wrangle, but a fully-loaded book-ready library is another matter!

Then came time to apply to Horowhenua District Council for an Arts grant, and gorgeous painting by Wendy Hodder.

Anja lets the joy shine through. Photo by Stephen Betts.
Anja lets the joy shine through. Photo by Stephen Betts.

Launch day approached but the weather took a turn for the worse, and festivities were delayed until Queen’s Birthday weekend. In the end it was a lovely day and a great turnout of supporters of all ages. Speeches were followed by the official cutting of the ribbon.

One supporter, Lucy, told me that in the last school holidays she and her kids visited the Library every day, borrowed loads of books and watched nearly all the DVDs!

You might notice the empty top shelf — that’s a space for freebies. People have been giving away garden produce, pot plants, fruit, games, shoes and all kinds of other items.

Miraz addresses the crowd. Photo by Stephen Betts.
Miraz addresses the crowd. Photo by Stephen Betts.
Anja and Theo cut the ribbon. Photo by Stephen Betts.
Anja and Theo cut the ribbon. Photo by Stephen Betts.

Afterwards the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association put on drinks and nibbles. Everyone stayed on for a while, chatting with new and old friends. Some suggested this kind of mid-winter get together should be a regular event.

Drinks and snacks to celebrate.
Drinks and snacks to celebrate.

It’s pretty rare to launch something new at Waikawa Beach — it was a great feeling though. It was also a wonderful community-building event, drawing together, as our Chairperson John Hewitson said in his speech, the folks from the village, Strathnaver and Waikawa Heights (Emma Drive and environs).

Thanks to Anja and Theo for originating this project and seeing it through to its conclusion, and thanks to all those who have supported and are supporting it. This is a fine asset in a special community.

Update, Monday: the dog bowl’s a nice touch!

Dog bowl at Awa Pukapuka.
Dog bowl at Awa Pukapuka.

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