Auckland Museum exhibition developer Janneen Love shares her favourite spot.

Truthfully, my happy place is on the shore of any waterway at home in the Hawke's Bay, especially if someone is diving for kaimoana, but I've lived in Tamaki/Auckland for the past seven years and my surrogate happy place is the puriri tree atop Maungawhau (Mt Eden).

I can turn and see where I have come from, where I've been and where I am heading. It provides the most spectacular views and all around you can see evidence of our rich history carved in the landscape.

It is a full 360 degree view at the top - Waitemata, Hauraki, Pacific, Manukau - all framed by a shifting cityscape and with my own home and work in the foreground. You can watch the weather roll through and the light shift and the air seems cleaner.

When I've been homesick in the past I've headed up the maunga with my daughter. Sometimes we would take her birthday gifts sent to us by family around the world, she would open them next to the puriri tree on a quilt. We made a point of facing the direction they came from when opening them. (The tree is particularly special because it holds water, and I imagine all the generations before me that have noticed this.)


The first time I visited was a summer afternoon and I remember being surprised by the number of tourists up there. My daughter and I found ourselves overpowered in a loving frenzy of elderly Korean tourists who insisted on playing with her hair and fussing over her. We figured they all must have been missing their grandchildren.

The other discovery from that first visit was suddenly understanding how the city was laid out, it was clear in a way it never had been from staring at maps.

There are different parts of the maunga to visit in all sort moods and weather - the lower playground is perfect for fish and chips with friends, the top is a great place to go with visitors, to orient them and plot a journey or city adventure.

And sometimes finding a quiet spot on the maunga for a bit of contemplation is the perfect cure.

- as told to Bronwyn Sell
* Janneen Love is an exhibition developer at Auckland Museum. The Identi-Tee exhibition explores how T-shirts express identity. To add your own T-shirt photo and story to the project's digital archive.