Old Library

*Please note: Creative Northland is not associated with the Old Library. If you would like more information about booking the Old Library, please contact Whangarei Youth Music or visit their website

Community Art Centre

The Old Library Limited was set up as a Charitable Company in 2009. It was created as a separate entity from the then newly formed Culture Heritage Arts Resource Trust (C.H.A.R.T) to represent and have dialogue with the Northland Arts Sector. C.H.A.R.T was the only shareholder of the Old Library.

The intention of the relationship was to support Old Library towards being ‘independent’ and to encourage the Directors of the Old Library to create an entrepreneurial business plan which would balance the needs and desires of the community arts groups with enough commercial sense to develop contracts with other sponsors and businesses to partially fund the community centre’s activities which could be supplemented with grants, donations and potentially memberships.

The company has its own governance board, managers and staff. It took lease of the building from the Whangarei District Council in January 2010, charged with the task of operating Whangarei’s only community art centre. In early 2009, the Board then Arts Promotion Trust, planned to secure the 1930s historical building, formerly the Whangārei Public Library on Rust Avenue, which is owned by the Whangārei District Council as a Community Centre, with a ten year lease agreement (1st December 2009 to 1st December 2019) for the purposes of running the Community Art Centre.

 Despite challenges and the ‘fatigued’ condition of the Old Library, the space continues to enjoy goodwill from the community with a diverse range of activities taking place. As a community venue, the Old library audience can be; photographic shoots to art classes, music recitals to theatre performances, boutique community events from the book launches to community meetings, round table discussions and tenants.

The History:

On the 12th of November 2011, marked the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Old Library building, the formal opening of the Arts Centre and the second anniversary of the Old Library Ltd. Old Library was operating as a semi-independent entity since 5th January 2010. During that time, they have been heavily relied on C.H.A.R.T for operational support, while they have succeeded in running a vital and exciting programme of events such as:

  • Theatre productions
  • Exhibitions
  • Arts & Cultural Events
  • Lunch time concerts
  • Education programmes
  • Performances
  • Music concerts
  • Regular classes
  • Workshops
  • Casual hire
  • Private/Work meetings
  • Private functions
  • Community events
  • Rental and grants contributions

Funds from C.H.A.R.T enabled The Old Library to renovate the old icebox, creating offices and workspace. This work is incomplete as they envisage improving toilets; kitchen and office space as funding becomes available. They have also widened their support base through a number of activities, and has a group of very enthusiastic supporters within FoOL, while also having committed sponsors and businesses supporters outside of C.H.A.R.T.

Key Sponsor Groups:

Griffiths and Associates

Henderson Reeves Connell Rishworth

Cato Bolam Consultants


Telfer Young

Building and Fire Services

Big Fish Creative


Business Relationships:

Arts Promotion Trust Northland

Northland Craft Trust (Quarry)

Bogwood Theatre Company


Whangarei Ukulele Orchestra

Whangarei Music Society

Whangarei Youth Music

Northland Society of Authors

Northland Society of Arts

Pohutukawa Theatre Company

Northland Youth Theatre

The Old Library Community Arts Centre housed a myriad of spaces in which the community can experience art in all its forms.

  • Northland Youth Theatre workshops
  • A production Flax weaving classes
  • A music group for pre schoolers
  • Music lessons – weekly Ukele group
  • Mid-day Madness – a series of lunchtime concerts every Wednesday
  • Art exhibitions (schools, community and professional levels)
  • Launches (eg, Tiaho Trust, WDC booklet for tourists with disabilities)
  • Dutch language classes
  • Professional theatre company plays (Yours truly, The Pohutukawa Theatre Company)
  • Offices of the Arts Promotion Trust (Northland

The Old Library was a permanent home to The Northland writer’s group, music library of Youth Music, Northland sinfonia, Amorangi Hikuroa and clay sculptor in residence. Arts Promotion Trust managed the costs by working with artists and community groups spaces at appropriate rates. Charges for the use of these spaces were kept at an affordable level and according to the various groups’ ability to pay.

The Kaupapa of the building for users and visitors were to support community development and to foster community awareness, spirit and creativity through arts. It was also to support arts development through continuously changing opportunities, viewing arts at all levels including work from school children and the work of professionals.

The Old Library contributes a unique and complementary offering to the visitor offering in the Whangarei region being part of the supply chain of arts and events. As an iconic heritage building, the Old Library is uniquely one of the only building of its kind in the district and potentially regional.

The Old Library - Vision:

Enrich the lives of the community by enabling art and creativity to flourish, providing space for creation, learning, participation, display and enjoyment of visual and performing.

Be widely accessible across the community, proving inspiration, aspiration, coordination and collaboration to creatives across the region.

Meet the needs of a city and region which is growing rapidly and establishing itself as a vibrant, creative community. Promote and enhance creativity to contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of the city.

Contribute to community health and well being by nurturing creative talent, empowering people through visual communication, fostering emerging and established artists and contributing to the cultural identity of the region.

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