My Auckland: Grey Lynn

By Gill South

Galia BarHava-Monteith is an Israeli-born executive coach, consultant and co-founder of professional women's online networking website, professionelle.co.nz. She lives in Grey Lynn with her partner Andrew, a partner at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, and their two children, Tal (9) and Ella (6). She tells Gill South about their area.

Galia BarHava-Monteith and her husband Andrew with their children Tal and Ella. Photo / Natalie Slade
Galia BarHava-Monteith and her husband Andrew with their children Tal and Ella. Photo / Natalie Slade

What I love about Grey Lynn is that you see kids playing on the streets. There are children everywhere. The neighbourhood in Jerusalem I grew up in had a very strong sense of community and I have memories of roaming the streets lined with old fig trees. I wanted that sense of community for my kids.

When I was 21, I came here from Jerusalem to backpack. I met and fell in love with Andrew in Queenstown - he was managing a backpackers' hostel - and I fell in love with New Zealand too. We lived in Westmere for 10 years before moving to Grey Lynn last July and now we wouldn't be anywhere else. It's such an interesting area, the people are all colours and shapes and sizes. The area is multicultural and as an immigrant I feel really comfortable here - I'm not the odd one out with the foreign accent.

There are a lot of Grey Lynn women who do what I do - work from home. After I had Ella, I wanted to work flexibly. And I can do everything I need to do from home, like writing articles and organising workshops, and we're currently working on the launch of a new website for Professionelle. It's a lovely working environment and very quiet.

My business partner Sarah can come and work in my office when she's in town. Often we have our meetings walking around the park. The idea is to set Andrew up with a desk here too so he can work at home when he likes.

Living in Grey Lynn has made Andrew's life much easier. He can pop in and out - it's less than a 10 minute drive to his work in Shortland St and a 40-minute scenic walk. He will often drop the children off at their school, Kadimah College in Greys Ave, on his way in. We are hoping one day the children will be scootering in.

But the best thing about the house is that it is across the road from Grey Lynn Park. Before we lived here we used to go to a lot of beaches - now we tend to hang out in the park. I have found a way for the kids to play there and for me to get exercise at the same time. After school I change into exercise gear, the kids get their bikes and we run and walk through there, and go to the playground. There is always something going on - a women's rugby team plays on Saturdays and an American football team plays on Tuesdays. And it's so safe.

We don't eat out as much as we used to because we love to entertain at home. Almost every weekend we have visitors. This year we had our housewarming party on the day of the Grey Lynn Festival - everyone used us as a base so people could leave their shopping and their husbands here. It was great fun.

Galia's picks

* Wellpark College of Natural Therapies Dispensary 6 Francis St, ph 360 0560. I go in there for herbal medicines every winter for the kids and for us - they are very knowledgeable about their lotions and potions.

* Savour & Devour 478 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, ph 361 2631, open weekdays 7am-5pm; weekends 8am-5pm. A great place for lunch with friends, for work or with the kids - great coffee and food from the menu or, if you're in a hurry, from the counter, and the best chocolate caramel slice in Auckland.

* Mondial Cafe/Bar 549 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn, ph 376 6682, open Tuesday-Thursday, 4pm-late; Friday-Saturday, 3pm-late. It's just a stroll away. We've had some great evenings there. The guys who own it are lovely, the food's divine and it has a great wine list.

* Gareth & Co Hair Salon 1A Francis St, Grey Lynn, ph 378 0031. Very professional but relaxed - they listen to their clients and do what you actually want them to - they're always there for me when I have a hair emergency!

- NZ Herald

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