New to Grey Lynn - The Feynman

Aroha fully sold: One new resident's story

Aroha in Avondale – our 117-unit joint venture with Marutūāhu Iwi – sold out in record time. Ahead of its completion in late-2022, a member of the Aroha whānau contemplates her shift of home – and lifestyle – from a three-bedroom house to a one-bedroom apartment with study.

When Kay Schmidt embarked on the search for her new home, location was never a question. “I’ve been very community involved over the years,” she says. “And my wish list was to stay within the Whau Ward,” she says. This is her stomping ground, this is home: 71-year-old retired accountant Kay has lived in her three-bedroom New Lynn home just minutes from the Whau River estuary for almost four decades.

So Aroha, the Ockham development just one neighbourhood across, on the nexus of Ash Street and Great North Road in Avondale, made a heap of sense. A spot so close to home, it already is. In fact Aroha is a nudge closer to the train station, a convenience which suits Kay just fine: “I don’t have to walk as far to get to the train to go to town, to visit the art gallery or to go to those concerts I want to go to.”

The Fabulous Whau

A member of Friends of the Whau, and part of her local Community Support group for decades, Kay’s knowledge of her patch of Auckland is voluminous. “I usually go to Huckleberry (on Portage Road) for a cafe and Mezze Bazaar in Lynnmall for takeaways,” she says. Although she doesn’t partake as often these days, walks around the Whau, including in Ken Maunder Park and Pocket Park, are well-trodden paths. “I like the history of New Lynn and the potteries,” she says, reflecting on the brickyards and ceramic companies that sprang up around Whau Creek in the latter 19th century, one of which went on to become Ceramco, famous for the now-iconic Crown Lynn pottery. “I know lots about the history of Avondale too,” she adds.

As well as her sense of connection to the neighbourhood, there are also pragmatic reasons to stay. “It is important to remain the area in that my chiropractor and masseuse operate from,” Kay continues. “My accountant, solicitor, and dentist are in New Lynn, too, and I will be retaining those.” With her move, there’ll be no need to change her routine. “I use the library often and am heartened to see that Avondale Library is due for refurbishment. Lynnmall, New World, and Fruitworld Margan Ave are still within reach.”

“I don’t have to walk as far to get to the train to go to town, to visit the art gallery or to go to those concerts I want to go to.”

Aroha resident, Kay Schmidt

Apartment Living. Secure. Convenient

As she readied her home for sale, apartment living appealed to Kay for several reasons, not of least, relinquishing herself of groundskeeping duties. “What I really want is for someone else to look after the garden,” she confesses. The raised garden beds set in the central lane of Aroha will be hers to behold, but without the hassle of upkeep. 

Security was a big consideration as well, for a woman in her 70s. “I’ve realised as I get older, I don’t want to go into assisted care living. But I want to have somewhere that’s more secure.” The apartment she has purchased at Aroha ticks the box. “The fact that there’s a barrier between me and the general public: anyone who wants to come to my apartment needs to have contact with me first over the intercom, before they walk in the door.”

Ockham style and substance

So an apartment near The Whau became the clear next step for Kay, and after observing the densification of New Lynn and Avondale, she had a few options to pick from. But why Ockham? It was the company’s penchant for brick that really captured Kay. “The thing that I particularly like, and that I’ve told other people who are ‘in the know’ about Ockham’s apartments, is the brick exterior or brick cladding, because there’s a lot of issues with apartment blocks regarding cladding.”

Aroha being the company’s 14th development, and its ongoing partnership with Marutūāhu, were also compelling. “Ockham has a large reputation now in the marketplace already,” Kay says. “And also, the Iwi partnership with Marutūāhu... I like what you’re showing is an understanding of the culture of the country I live in.”

Pondering future life in her future residence, Kay is pleased with the size and proportion of her apartment. ”I wanted one bedroom and a study, so that room with the glass wall is ideal for a study for me,” she says. “The other thing I really find attractive is the fact that the balcony is enclosed within the framework of the building.”

Will there be any plants on her balcony? “There will be one pot of oregano.” That's not negotiable. “I like the Mediterranean diet and fresh oregano is essential.” What does she make with it? “Pasta and zucchini and feta cheese,” she says. “I cooked it for my neighbours just recently.”

Later she sends over the recipe, a small gesture that seems illustrative of Kay’s outlook; straight-forward, diligent, thoughtful about others. It's no surprise to learn she’s a trained counsellor, someone who has volunteered for organisations like Youthline.

The prospect of moving to Aroha, a shared building with new neighbours, doesn't faze her at all. “I studied psychology and found that I’m good at fitting in with different groups. I like meeting people.”  

Marie Kondo-ing in advance

Even though Moving Day is some time away yet, Kay’s started anticipating what things she’ll bring with her – or rather, what she can let go. “I’m already thinking about downsizing. My current home has three bedrooms and a large lounge dining area. My dining room table has got six chairs to it! I’ve needed that in the past as I’ve held committee meetings and that sort of thing over the years. But now I’m just looking at a table and two chairs.”

The way Kay talks about it, another way of thinking of downsizing is a kind of streamlining. “I’m looking at actually changing my computer set-up because I no longer need that sort of grunt anymore, I won’t be organising committees anymore. I’ve had to prepare reports and that sort of thing over my lifetime, and that will all change.”

Is she looking forward to reducing her commitments and responsibilities? Absolutely! “I’m very aware I’ve had about six books sitting on my shelf since the beginning of this year that I haven’t even opened yet,” Kay says. “There’s (Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2020 fiction prizewinner) Auē by Becky Manawautu, there’s (Ockhams longlisted) The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox... that’s got brilliant reviews.”

Kay regards her upcoming move to Aroha as the start of a new chapter in her life. She calls it a ‘winding down’, but it really could be thought of as some much-deserved time off. Time to pick up a much-awaited book, or perhaps pop out on her balcony to pick some oregano. The view might be a new one, but the neighbourhood will be rather wonderfully familiar.

This glorious vista of the Whau river with the Waitematā Harbour behind (and Great Barrier and the Coromandel beyond) was taken by Wellington's Phillip Capper.