Paekakariki artist Alan Wehipeihana is converting law books that would otherwise had been dumped into works of art.
He has already saved hundreds of books and they have been or are being transformed into such works as tukutuku panels and bookshelves.
It all began when a law librarian from England was visiting his studio. She saw some of his works, featuring the spines of old Reader’s Digests.
Knowing that thousands of old law books were about to meet an ignominious end, she said she had a lot of contacts in New Zealand and she would email them.
That email met with a big response. The first was from Baldwins, who provided Mr Wehipeihana with his first batch of around 400 old books.
More responses followed, from sources such as Judicial Chambers, the Court of Appeal, and even the Law Society’s Wellington Law Library.
Many of the books are very old, dating back into the mid 1800s.
“People often say to me that they hate throwing these books away,” Mr Wehipeihana says. “And they’re pleased the books are getting a new lease of life, rather than going to a landfill.”
“What I am hoping is that the people who have given us these books may like some of them back, but in a different form.”
He has also been told that now is a good time for such an initiative, as many people are going through a rationalisation process.
Converting old law books into works of art is a very labour intensive project, says Mr Wehipeihana, who has been a full-time artist for over 20 years now.
But it is work he is enjoying, and which he feels is a very valuable way of preserving some of our legal history.