Puhoi Town Library

Puhoi, New Zealand | C.1923

Photo Credit: Adam Murphy

In a country known for exemplifying the phrase “tiny-but-mighty,” one of the most delightful, and heroic, little buildings belongs to a small river-front community about 100 miles north of Hobbiton: Puhoi Town Library, one of New Zealand’s tiniest libraries.

The small white concrete building, situated on the riverbank of Puhoi, an historic village in Rodney, North Auckland, was constructed in 1913, initially serving as the Puhoi Road Board. Ten years later, it was given to the people of Puhoi and repurposed as the Town Library, but only for a short stint. Less than a year after opening, the “Great Flood” of 1924 struck, filling the Town Library with 6 ft of river water and silt, destroying all the books and leaving a water level mark that can be seen on the building today.

Flooding would prove near-fatal to the Town Library. After the “Great Flood”, the building was converted into a swiss army knife of real estate. The diminutive structure was used for district meetings, as a first aid post, a craft outlet, and even a mortuary. Half a century would pass between the “Great Flood” and the space’s resurrection as the town library. But as fate would have it, in 2001, another flood struck.

However, this time the Town Library was more resilient to the rising waters. That the building survives is testament to the resilience and dedication of the Puhoi community. Today, a single volunteer librarian oversees the 4000 books and 500 DVDs, all of which were donated by the townspeople. We wouldn’t be surprised if a trilogy about a tiny but mighty Hobbit’s adventures (plus its prequel!) could be found shelved among the stacks.

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