The ever changing canvas of Auckland’s K-Road

I’ve loved K-Road (Karangahape Road) for as long as I can remember.  

It’s full of history and culture.  I on the other hand am a terrible historian.  I romanticise, embellish and exaggerate.  I can’t resist adding my own take on a story.  So this time I’m not even going to try.  I’m going to show you my view of K-Road as it is now through my pictures taken on my way to work over 2021 and my history with K-Road.

As a teenager in the early 90’s it held a grim fascination for me as a series of girls around my age met their untimely end.  I’d sneak furtive looks at the scantily clad girls that roamed the streets.  I was drawn to the century old grave yards but at the same time always too scared to enter.  I’d feel incredibly grown up going into the hemp shop with a boyfriend.  And I’d wonder desperately at what went on behind the doors of the ever present strip clubs.

K-Road

In my early 20’s I would wander up from AUT to explore Rendell’s.  A seemingly never ending emporium of everything you never knew you needed in your life.  It was a time before $2 shops and Wish and it was the best thing I could think of to describe it in that time.  It had a hint of the world that my Grandma described from her youth but that world was tarnished and you only glimpsed it every know and then.

In my mid 20’s I went to my first gay bar on K-Road.  Family, which is still there.  Somehow we thought it was a great idea to ring the agency and record ourselves, off our tits, singing the Pina Colada song.  I’ll leave it to the imagination just how that sounded the next day.

In my late 20’s I found myself back at K-Road.  Working on Upper Queen Street at and ad agency (and then later across Myers Park in Greys Avenue) I saw the juxtaposition of the worlds more keenly than ever.  My stylishly dressed ad agency with the police raids at the council flats across the road.  My comfy office looking on to the rooftop of the White House.  The kindy that I looked out on in Myers Park contrasted with people sleeping rough on the sides of the road.  This was my least favourite time for K-Road.  I had a car park behind K-Road in and working long hours in advertising I’d walk up there, heavily pregnant through an increasingly scary and dark place.  Rendells was gone and there didn’t seem to be much to attract you there aside from the cliche’s of K-Road.

In between I was an occasional visitor – a photo shoot, a drag show, a few date nights, a night stalking Chris Warner at a TVNZ function (again, so sorry) and a brief for a beer brand I was working on at a strip club.  K-Road was always interesting.

K-Road

And then in 2021 I started working with NZ On Air.  Their offices are in Beresford Square (just off K-Road) in what can best be described as and old converted flat.  The boardroom is Dave Dobbyn’s old recording studio (which blows my mind every time I’m in there).

Once again I was a frequent visitor to K-Road, parking in the same car park I’d parked in all those years ago.  But K-Road had changed so much.  Every conceivable space – wall, roads, signs, hoardings had become a canvas.  Art was under foot, surrounding you – immersing you everywhere you went.

K-Road

Maybe it was there before and I missed it.  Maybe I just wasn’t ready.  All I know now is if I go into the NZ On Air offices I walk through the street transfixed.  Forever taking photos, wishing I’d bought my “proper camera” but knowing if I did I’d never make it in to the office.  I’d duck out at lunch time to explore more – even daring to go through cemetery.  

Thank you K-Road for being an ever changing canvas that I’m fortunate enough to stroll through and build my own memories every now and then.