A love letter to Auckland: 'It's like living in New York but with better weather'

Barbara Holloway writes an ode to her Auckland.
Barbara Holloway. Photo / NZ Herald
Barbara Holloway. Photo / NZ Herald

Last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite, apart: Rudyard Kipling's oft-quoted line from his poem The Song of the Cities, written in 1891, is not Auckland today. In the travellers' and digital age, no matter how remote our place on the globe is, we are not a lonely isle.

Auckland has become a crucible for innovation and experimentation, with ties across the planet. The place I feel most embraced is the mighty K, on K Rd. There you can be whoever you want to be. I feel most urbane in the High St district where my Londoner genes are stirred, and I often sit in the narrow lanes feeling part of something permanent.

In the 1950s as the daughter of Irish/English immigrants, I grew up with Maori, Samoans, Scots, Poles, Dutch and Italians learning national dances and how to dress elegantly by watching Italian women. Today my grandson is a Kindo - a Kiwi Indonesian - and in Auckland we have the enjoyment of foods, festivals and traditions so exotic it's like living in New York but with better weather and fewer people.

We have incredible hybrids like Latin salsa interwoven with the beat of Pasifika to produce Siva Salsa. Mangere Markets is truly Pacific, and while I admire the craft of the older ladies there, they admire my metre-long hair: "Ah Palagis, never have that long hair!"

Auckland Art gallery is a smorgasbord of heritage and contemporary art. I enjoy the intriguing and challenging layering of colonialism with Maori history using digital imagery in the work of Lisa Reihana there - which is now being taken to the international stage at the Venice Biennale.

My visit to Fiona Pardington's recent and divine show was more enthralling when she was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France.

My youth in Auckland was a lovely time, but nowhere near as connected and uniquely delicious as it is today.When I need that feeling to be at one with the loveliness of being exquisite and apart, I head to the wildness of Karekare Beach.

My Auckland favourite five

1 K Road precinct: Weirdness to suit me
2 High Street district: Stylish old city feel
3 Auckland Art Gallery: Superb New Zealand art
4 Mangere Markets: Pasifika flavours and beats
5 Karekare Beach: Lovely, exquisite and apart

Barbara Holloway is Auckland Council's manager of places and spaces.

- Weekend magazine

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