Bryce Rhodes at the Te Puke Library


There’s a new Bryce Rhodes work in the Children’s section of the Te Puke Library. It’s not the usual Rhodes earth tones and shades of brown, it’s a vibrant traditionally painted piece of public art.

The street facing wi-fi area of the Te Puke Library is choka. All the window facing seats along the benches are in use and the seats behind are full. There are two young women with their smart phones sitting on the floor in the next bay under the notice “no wifi here.”

Past this section of technological intensity the Library opens into the expected area of books, readers, desks and a cool calm. There’s an area set aside as an iSITE for the district. I introduce myself to Librarian Christine and handover my usual pile of plain black and white ARTbop promotional flyers.

Christine takes me over to the new Bryce Rhodes mural which has just been “opened.” It’s definitely a children’s mural; bright colours, traditional themes, Maui catching the sun, the whale, the stingray, the elements. In the middle of it all a now blonde (formerly grey) smiling Pakeha reads to the three cartoon character children (one demographically brown), a dog and cat. Indicative of the changes facing readers and the Library, a laptop also sits at her feet.

The area designated for children has vibrantly coloured square stools, a dress up box and simple educational toys. It’s a lovely welcoming space. On the wall is a quote from a Dr Seuss book which coincidentally is sitting on my dining room table: – “I can read with my eyes shut! – The Cat in the Hat takes the young cat on an eye-opening trip to earn the joys of reading.”

“The more that you read

the more things you will know.

The more that you learn,

the more places you’ll go.”

On the far wall, above the wi-fi users I’d walked past hangs a small Bryce Rhodes work in his more usual style – he burns the surface of wood to create his images. It’s representational of the commemorations of the battles of Pukehinahina-Gate Pa and Te Ranga. How appropriate it’s hanging here as education is today’s weapon of choice for the previously dispossessed and minority groups.

Rosemary Balu


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