Fitzherbert Street

Tel: (06 308 9030)

Opening hours :

Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5.00pm
Saturday 10.00am to 12.00pm


The Featherston Library started life as the ‘Featherston Literary Institute’ in April, 1896. It was officially opened by Mr Alfred Matthews who had gifted the land and funds towards the building construction. Mr Matthews was the first Chairman of the Institute and allowed the library to open debt-free by paying the last twenty-nine pounds of debt.

The first Librarian was Mr D. Fry on an annual salary of Twenty-five pounds. The opening hours were 10.30 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. Monday to Friday and Saturday 10.30 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.!

In 1880 it was noted in the Wairarapa Standard that Featherston Library sold 350 books to Carterton library at cost as these books had not come up to expectations!

Some of the later Librarians were Mrs Helen Clapshaw (now Mrs Earl and living in 2006 in Masterton), Mrs Patsy Halpin, who was the wife of one of the Teachers at Featherston School. Then Mrs Hughina Hemi who was librarian for about ten years before Erica Tenquist in August 1961 when Mrs Hemi went off to Training College.

In 1961 the Library was open for six hours a day from 10 a.m. to four p.m. with a late night on Friday – Friday’s hours were 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. There was also allowed four hours to work while the library was closed to do buying for new books, cataloguing etc.

Another thing to occur at that time was the renewal of everyone’s Library Cards as quite a few were out of date because of the very big transient population of Featherston and District.

The library was very grateful for the services of the Country Library Service van, with Miss Franklin driving. She was a very little lady about four feet and ten inches tall and how she managed the big van on all the country roads amazed. She used to stay overnight with the librarian and then go on the next day to Martinborough and Tuturumuri and then further up through the Wairarapa. The van called to exchange books four times a year.

There was little use of the library by children so a scheme was initiated to enable a group of children to come in and help with mending books, shelving etc and that built up the use of the library considerably.

The Library was regarded as a progressive B Class Library and the librarian was invited to speak about it at several Library Conferences.

It was quite difficult to get the Council to raise the amount of money available for each year to buy books. Past connections with the Wellington Public Library and the Upper Hutt Library meant the library would get some books handed on as well as the four times a year exchange of books from the Country Library service. Some National Library Service books were on permanent loan.

A plea for a larger Library fell on deaf ears with one Councillor telling the librarian to get rid of “all the old books” on the shelves and just keep the fiction, westerns, and rentals!

A big part of the librarians day to day job was requesting books for people through the National Library Interloan.

The Library was about a third of its size with a wide hallway leading to the ladies reading room at the rear of the building. One side of the building was the reading room and in those days about six papers were taken, The Dominion, Evening Post, Wairarapa Times Age, the National Business Review, the Truth and the Sports Post and several magazines such as the Weekly News and the New Zealand Free Lance. It was visited by lots of people who didn’t use the Library but liked to read the papers and keep warm by the large fireplace.

A fire in the Library started in this reading room in 1971. It did a lot of damage and it was decided to open the front of the library into one big room with the Toilet and a store room at the back. This back room had a lovely fireplace in it and was used by various local organisations. It was originally the ‘Ladies Reading Room’ and gentlemen were not permitted.

This marked the beginning of Mrs. R. Julian as librarian in 1971. She stayed for several years, and was notable for her many and varied dangly earrings and necklaces etc – the children used to go into the library to see what she was wearing that day. The next Librarian that came was Mrs Linda Isbister, who studied on the job and achieved her Library Certificate. The Current Librarian, Penny Griffin has been at the helm for 20years following Greytown Librarian Sylvia Lagah who was a reliever at Featherston.

In 1997 the library joined the computer age and became automated. The days of being sole charge ended in 2000 when the library took over the role of Council Service Centre, allowing the residents to have a Council owned outlet for paying their rates and conducting other Council Business. In 2001 the South Wairarapa District Libraries joined with Carterton to become the Wairarapa Library Service.

Erica Tenquist – Librarian from August 1961 to July 1963.

Please view archived information about Featherston here


A library for Carterton was a priority for early settlers and the one established in 1874 …more


In October 1871, in a letter to the Mercury, the Hon. G.M. Waterhouse of Huangurua Station …more


The Featherston Library started life as the ‘Featherston Literary Institute’ in April, 1896. It was officially opened by Mr Alfred Matthews who had gifted the land and funds … more