While she and her family live in Mt Albert, Māngere has become something of a second home for television and radio host Stacey Morrison and her whānau, particularly due to her husband, Scotty Morrison, working at Ngā Whare Waatea Marae as part of the Waatea news team. Māngere, Stacey says, is such an underrated part of the city and holds an important part of Aotearoa's history, both in terms of Māori history and settler history as well. "It's very varied – you've got Ihumātao there, Auckland international airport, and you've also got Villa Maria, a commercial area, and housing – a lot! ."
It's also got a strong community hub to it – partly due to the wide range of activities run out of Ngā Whare Waatea Marae, such as wānanga, kura but also events like Matariki – and due to the close proxmity to the harbour as well. "You can see people on the harbour, fishing or doing another activity, and you can see how it's been a hub for so long. You can imagine the waka going in and out of it." There's also a vibrant arts scene, thanks to the work at Ngā Tohu o Uenuku (Māngere Arts Centre), which hosts a huge range of events and classes for the locals.
If you had a friend staying with you from out of Auckland and you wanted to show them the best of the area, where would you take them for a full day's experience?
The walkways at Ambury Farm have really expansive views, and then you can go for kai at either The Orchard Juicery or Ruby Red at Māngere. Then you can go up the maunga, Māngere Mountain/Te Pane o Mataoho, check out wonderful views and an education centre sharing the rich history of the maunga, before picking up a performance at the Māngere Arts Centre. You can do an entire day in Māngere and you haven't even had to go far from the airport, to it. Plus, there might be a hui or there might be some markets on. Some parts of Auckland can be a bit predictable but Māngere still feels like it isn't overdeveloped.
If you're after a leisurely weekend breakfast, where would you go?
Ruby Red, Māngere Bridge is a great brunch spot – i always get the eggs benedict, or the mushrooms - and when you get a coffee, they have vintage decorative teaspoons. Next to my most recent coffee I got the one I've actually always wanted – Whakarewarewa, Rotorua. I agonised about asking to buy it.
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What do you consider to be the hidden gem of Auckland?
The urban Marae play such a special role in the city, for people to have a place that's welcoming for everyone. When Māori who live away from where they come from, these urban Marae can hold a really special place for them. Places like Hoani Waititi Marae, Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae at Unitec: they really do keep the home fires burning. Ngā Whare Waatea Marae, where Scotty works, is a centre for big hui, tangihanga, celebrations and day to day support, it's such an important and welcoming part of the community.
What's your favourite spa in Auckland?
East Day Spa – it's actually central and that's what I find cool about it, that you're right in the CBD and you just walk in and it feels like you're immediately in Bali. I'll be like sprinting, to get in there and then I'm like 'zen, zen, zen.'
Where is your favourite island in Auckland to escape to?
Aotea/Great Barrier Island. My husband and I had just got together and it was our first 'overseas' trip, he didn't tell me where we were going but he did tell me to bring my passport, and then we started to turn towards the Domestic airport… but we flew over to Great Barrier Island and had a long weekend there, it was amazing. I couldn't believe how lush it was and the incredible seafood, we stayed at a lodge that was in the middle of the forest.