Hannah Jennings-Voykovich tells Elisabeth Easther how the roller skating community around Western Springs really spins her wheels

I was living in Sandringham when my best friend and I started looking for a new flat. We fell in love with Western Springs, and have been here for four years. It's just over the road from some pro-wrestlers we know. I'm a keen roller skater, so we have roller derby on one side, pro-wrestling on the other. It's a pretty cool street.

One of the main things we're doing here, because it's summer, is that my roller derby team is making the most of cross-training. We're right by the Northwestern Cycleway, which runs from town to out west alongside the Northwestern Motorway. The ground is really smooth, and we love it.

We also like to head to the skate park under the Bond St bridge. The skaters there are pretty respectful; there's no tagging, and people look after it. It's nice to have that there.

A lot of new skaters are a bit intimidated by skate parks, but the Bond St one is relaxing. There are no crazy scooter riders trying to take your head off. When you're in your 20s you're less gung-ho than when you're seven or eight.


A lot of our skate team live around this area. Our team is called the Auckland Roller Derby and we have the HQ here at our place. Even though we have to travel to do a lot of our skating, this is where the team hangs out. We're not just rolling around skating, though. We also go up the top of the hill, to Fowlds Park, because there's a big exercise trail there. The circuit has all sorts of things, parallel bars, a hanging ladder to climb along, lots of strength-based exercises, and you can jog between stations, which we do to keep up appearances, as lots of other sports teams work out there.

One thing I've signed up for in the neighbourhood is a thing called Boot It, at Western Springs Park. It's from 6.30am-7.15am. They do all these boot-camp fitness things all over Auckland. And Western Springs Park is beautiful.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, when I wake up bleary-eyed from a week of working, I like to go to Kokako Cafe in the old post office building in Grey Lynn.

They've got a vegetarian menu and amazing coffee, and mugs with moustaches. A few doors down is a new bakery called Tart, which does all the traditional New Zealand bakery fare: cream doughnuts, that kind of thing. The last time I was up there they had a piano outside with a sign saying "Play me". There's also the Chinaman's Hill bazaar, which is a new arts and crafts market on Saturdays.

Another thing I love is Motat. I assumed I wouldn't enjoy it the same way I did when I was a kid, but it turns out I still like it. The interactive displays are cool and they've got a great programme of events, such as for Halloween, and the Christmas lights are beautiful. There are good deals for families and it's often free for people from particular areas. They really try to get people along. Why would you not want to ride the gorgeous little tram?

Then there's Pasifika. This year it's on for two days in March at Western Springs Park. I go there to get my sacks of Orangina at one of the formerly French territories' stands. We'll go and get nice food and listen to music and watch dance performances. It's such a cool way to see a bunch of cultures blending together.

It's the visual face of Auckland. I love that you go there, get well-fed and entertained, and that it's free, which is awesome.

I'm so glad we chanced on a great area and a great house, because it's a lovely suburb and a lovely area. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else - except maybe the bright lights of San Francisco or New York but, till then, Western Springs suits me down to the ground.


Hannah has been helping organise Auckland Pride Parade (Feb 16) and will be shaking a bucket for the NZ Aids Foundation's Get It On campaign at the Big Gay Out at Coyle Park, Pt Chevalier, tomorrow.

Hannah's hot tips
Pasifika: March 9 and 10, Western Springs Park. The new event on Sunday will include a multi-denominational service, shared food and cultural performances.

Motat: 805 Great North Rd, Western Springs. Ph (09) 815 5800. motat.org.nz
Northwestern Bikeway: from Upper Queen St to Henderson, alongside the Northwestern Motorway. Maps can be found at aucklandtransport.govt.nz

Kokako: 537 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn. Yum yum yum. Ph (09) 379 2868. kokako.co.nz
Do you have some great things going on to help make your neighbourhood a community?We'd like to know about people and places. Email us at life@nzherald.co.nz