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The name means: The unobstructed trail to the world and beyond.
Traditionally the Rolleston area was part of a network of ara tawhito, ancient trails. Navigating across the landscape of Ngā Pākihi Whakatekateka o Waitaha, the Canterbury Plains took skill and planning. Our old people created these trails, marking them on an otherwise flat landscape. The network of trails led them not only across the plains but more importantly from mahinga kai site to mahinga kai site. Much like the story of Te Maru/Mauru and the Rakaia Gorge talked about in the design work, Te Ara Ātea creates a pathway.
Te Ara Ātea can be translated as the trails to the world, the pathway into space, the unobstructed trail. It acknowledges the location of the library in the network of trails, it also reinforces the pathways into life long learning and exploration. The word ‘ara’ means path, trail and route. It also refers to a line of weaving and is the verb to wake or to rise up. Ātea means to be free of obstruction, to be clear. It is also the name of the ceremonial courtyard, marae ātea, on the marae. The purpose of the marae ātea is as the place to debate and challenge. It is one of the thresholds that one crosses going onto the marae. Ātea also means outer space. The name Te Ara Ātea therefore carries with it the notion of pushing out into the beyond, exploring, navigating and challenging.
If one accepts that Te Ara Ātea is an unobstructed trail, then the facility and the surrounding facilities become much like the mahinga kai sites of old. Each has a purpose and a resource that should be cared for, nurtured and harvested in a sustainable way. Each becomes a marker on the trail.
Ko te pae tawhiti whāia kia tata, ko te pae tata whakamaua kia tīna.
Seek to bring distant horizons closer, and sustain and maintain those that have been arrived at.