Grace Kukutai is a local girl through and through. She has lived in Blockhouse Bay in the same house that her mother grew up in. Grace went to the same schools that her mother attended – Chaucer Primary, Blockhouse Bay Intermediate and Lynfield College. Now she has a local business Kukutai Lawn Mowing Services with her partner, North Harbour rugby winger Tomas Aoake.
Grace started playing Netball at five years old and had a promising career ahead of her before deciding to switch to rugby sevens. She says “My heart is with sevens. I think that it is such an exciting game, but there’s no sevens going on at the moment, so fifteens has been really awesome because it’s a lot more contact and you still have the same sort of skill set.”
Now recently back at home from Japan, Grace is full on in rugby training as well as studying for her Bachelor of Arts majoring in criminology, with a minor in Māori development.
In May this year, while in lockdown in Japan, Grace gave an in-depth interview to LockerRoom writer Ashley Stanley where she opened up about some of the struggles that she has faced and how her outlook is now more positive.
Read the full story here.
Institute Lane, (an unmarked alleyway linking a carpark withTotora Ave), has just been made more vibrant with the completion of five murals by Paul X Walsh, a renowned Three Kings artist who often paints murals and public art.
The murals depict the old Maori portage from the Whau River to the Manukau, The first Borough Post Office, the brick and tile history, Crown Lynn pottery, and a futuristic vision of Totara Ave in 2220.
Paul likes using visual disconnection to stir reactions. Instead of doing purely historic murals, he has mixed it up a bit in some of them.
The murals were sponsored by the Tag Out Trust. This is a West Auckland non profit group contracted to remove graffiti. One of their core goals is to enliven streetscapes with murals instead of tagging. Vice Chair, Derek Battersby was instrumental in commissioning the murals. Warren Piper assisted by the arranging permission of the building owners. Across the Lane at Mix Moon, there is a rumour that Paul may be creating a work on an inside wall of the restaurant soon.
It is difficult to make a living from art and it has taken many years for Paul to get to the position where he can support his family with his work. His first breakthrough was being recognised by Chorus and invited to paint some of their street cabinets. At first even that was free, but then it became paid work. With the change from the copper network to fibre, these artworks will eventually disappear.
Paul really made his mark on the Whau with a tribute mural in the Avondale Art park after the March 15 massacre. This recognised Naeem Rashid who confronted the gunman but was killed. The mural “Remember the Heros” was widely publicised. "I wish I didn't know who Naeem was. I wish he was back at his job as a teacher today, and I wish I was painting something else," Walsh said. Due to the nature of the space, it was doomed to only be a temporary work. However, Avondale still enjoys a more recent mural, a huge historic look at the area and featuring St Ninians Church, painted on the wall of the Cosmopolitan Village.
Over in Lynfield there is a more exclusive mural by Paul called “Puketapapa” on a wall in the inner courtyard of Lynfield Recreation Center.
See below for images of the Institute Lane murals, and Paul Walsh's comments on each. Follow Paul on Facebook and Instagram.
The Old Maori Portage: One of the shortest routes between the Waitematā and Manukau harbours, the nearby Portage Road follows the pathway Māori took carrying their waka from the end of the Whau River, over the lip of the land and down into Green Bay and the Manukau Harbour (and vice versa).
This artwork is a stylised representation of what one of those journeys would look like, based on historical records - using logs to roll the waka, with children helping to carry the logs back to the front. The landscape reflects the historical flora of the area - nikau palms, cabbage trees (tī kōuka), and a row of tōtara trees (reflecting the location of the artwork, Tōtara Ave.)
The First Borough Post Office: The main building in this image is New Lynn’s first borough post office, built as the town board office in 1911, but the piece is evocative of the century leading up to that time.
The horse-drawn gig (two wheeled carriage) was still common in Auckland in the early 20th century, when the post office was built. [Note the old New Lynn Hotel in the background (left)]
It features ti kōuka again, linking it to the previous mural, as well as some introduced plants (hydrangeas in the left foreground, pines in the right rear) - and the whole scene is rendered in rich earth tones and illuminated by an orange-red sunset.
The Brick and Tile History: New Lynn was home to a thriving clay-based industry between 1850 and 1950, producing bricks, tiles, pipes and pottery.
This mural is a celebration of that industrial heritage - it features the main building of the New Zealand Tile & Pottery Company, with its impressive chimney piercing the sky, framed by some stacked cumulus clouds.
I used a bit of trompe l’oeil trickery when creating this one, reproducing the brick wall of the building it is painted on.
The characters are celebrating NZ's immigrant history, as well as a bit of a silly visual pun... (clue: New Lynn is at the centre of the "wild west".)
Crown Lynn Pottery: It’s hard to discuss New Lynn’s heritage without mentioning Crown Lynn - at its peak in 1960 it was producing about 10 million pieces each year, making it the largest pottery company in the Southern Hemisphere.
The designs are now part of our heritage, and are celebrated and loved as a vital strand of Kiwiana design. Since this mural is the shortest of the five, and is surrounded by brick, so I thought it would be a great spot to celebrate some classic Crown Lynn patterns and designs.
A Futuristic Vision of Totara Ave in 2220: You see so many historical murals, but they never seem to say: what about the future? I’ve always wanted to design a futuristic cityscape - and this was my chance! This is what I am picturing Tōtara Ave could look like in the year 2220 or so.
I have always been a sci-fi fanatic, and have spent a lot of time imagining what our urban landscapes could end up looking like. Most futurists agree that it will involve green roofs and urban gardens, and mixed-use traffic areas with smart electric transportation. Beyond that, I took some inspiration from London's "Gherkin" and the Beijing National Theatre to create these 'upside down pyramid' apartment blocks, covered in gardens and glass.
Yeah... I'd like to live there...!
(Oh and Pete's ute is still parked on the street.. except now it's a flying ute )
While lockdown for many feels like a prison, for some, like local historian Lisa Truttman who managed to knock out two books during the first lockdown this year, it’s an opportunity to get stuff done.
Lisa, who describes herself as a “professional self-employed heritage researcher and occasional author of books”, is also known for her prolific blog and Facebook page, Timespanner.
She has published, she says, “eight or so books” since 2007. A quick search of Lisa J Truttman on the Auckland Libraries’ website results in a long list of titles including books, essays, and heritage studies. Lisa’s latest two books, published on 1st September, are available now, while another on Maungawhau Mt Eden is due out early next year.
A place to stay awhile: Auckland’s transit camps, 1944-78 (100 pages, $30) finishes a project she began eight years ago, looking into the story of transit housing camps set up at the end of World War II to tackle the housing crisis back then.
Auckland City’s mayor John Allum came up with the idea of turning former military camps into transit housing, filling the gap between inadequate slum areas and better homes provided by the government schemes, amongst others. The idea took hold nationwide for a time, until the crisis eventually eased. Today, hardly anything remains.
A Place to Stay Awhile details the stories and the lives at Auckland’s five transit housing camps, at Mt Victoria in Devonport, Western Springs, Victoria Park, the Auckland Domain, and Camp Bunn near Panmure, as well as transit camps in other areas of New Zealand.
The Maunga at Mount Albert (80 pages, $25) is on the stories on and around the maunga known as Ōwairaka and other names.
To order, email the author directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. Postage for up to two books is $6
Lynfield locals were shocked to see blue liquid being discharged onto the roadside channel on Hillsborough Road one rainy Sunday in late August.
Once the photo and video were posted on the Lynfield Community Facebook group, Mackenzie noted “I saw this the other day too, early in the morning”. Deb said “I saw the same thing last weekend. When I drove back past it was gone - same place - thought it was a once off - if this is happening regularly this is not good”
That the pollution had happened more than once pointed to it being a deliberate discharge being masked by rainfall, rather than an accident. This made one local so mad that he did his own investigation and found three 1,000 litre pallet cubes in the front of the property. The blue substance can be seen on the grass.
There were multiple complaints made to the pollution hotline.
The initial council response to one complainant was “Thank you for your email and video. I have contacted the owner and warned them of the paint incident and that should this happen again, they may face a penalty. I also explained the effects it has on our environment when paint gets into our stormwater drains. The owner did say it was not paint but chemical from cleaning his pool, still, no excuse for any type of chemical being discharged out and into the drains.”
When Beacon Community News enquired, it seems that the investigation may not yet be closed. Max Wilde, Team Manager Compliance Response stated: “We have spoken to the property owners about the potential damage that such a discharge can have in freshwater and our investigation is ongoing.”
Preparing for butterfly season
How to help our monarchs
By Jacqui Knight, aka the Butterfly Lady
The butterfly habitat in the Blockhouse Bay Recreational Reserve is going ahead in leaps and bounds. The monarchs have returned from overwintering and are laying eggs on the swan plants.
“It would be joyous if it wasn’t for the ratbag or ratbags who stole plants from there recently,” said Jacqui Knight, the co-ordinator. “Our volunteers work hard to maintain and beautify the area and the person or people responsible for the loss of the plants obviously doesn’t understand gardening. It was the wrong time of year to be moving them”.
But there are more supporters than there are ratbags. For example, Lee from Garden Visions recently donated several hours of his time and experience, landscaping to make the habitat safer.
We want to do everything we can to ensure that butterflies continue to be an important part of our natural environment. But some people need to have a better understanding of Nature and how it works.
All monarch photos: Sally Phillips
Some tips for those of you who want to help monarchs:
Love Christmas? ... Love markets? ... Love food trucks?
Love generosity and community spirit?
If the very mention of Christmas ‘sparks joy’ for you, you’ll be saving the date for this brand-new Christmas market that’s being hosted by Blockhouse Bay Community Church this November.
Market stallholders have been doing it tough this year because COVID-19 restrictions have had a huge impact on sales, creating economic uncertainty. Organiser Emily Silby came up with the idea to create a lively indoor market within the church building, inviting vendors to participate free of charge and keeping their entire profit.
“We love our community and want to get behind small businesses doing amazing things”, says Emily. “They’re incredibly talented people and we just want to see them succeed.”
You can expect a wonderful selection of quality products from a bunch of passionate kiwis trying to make a difference in their community. The market will have five food trucks and over 25 independent stalls for you to explore all things Christmassy, from gorgeous wreaths, scrumptious goodies and beautiful homewares to mouthwatering delights from the food truck guys.
“It’s a great opportunity for a fun and relaxing night out with your partner or friends and to interact with people in the neighbourhood”, says Emily. “So, come and enjoy a night out with food, music, and shopping, and get stocked up for Christmas!”
Follow their Facebook page @blockhousebaychristmasmarket for updates and information about the vendors.
We could all do with good news, so we would like to acknowledge the great work of Raewyn and Jacquie from Barfoot & Thompson Grey Lynn.
Our team member Pam and her volunteers were tackling the invasive moth plant in New Windsor as part of the Whau Wildlink project. There, they came across a rental property with masses of moth plants that were ready to pop and spread their seeds. They raised the issue with property managers Jacquie and Raewyn, and were pleasantly surprised to see the plants gone by the next week.
Veteran volunteer Allan was so impressed that he wanted to buy them a bunch of flowers.
He says, "On behalf of all the volunteers who work endlessly on the invasive weeds in the community, we appreciate the swift and effective action taken to clear a property of the highly invasive moth plants. Through your action the community was spared the spread of thousands of airborne seeds. Thanks."
It's not widely known, but property managers who take care and responsibility make a big difference for our work in native wildlife restoration.
Ngā mihi ki a kōrua Jacquie and Raewyn.
The team at EcoMatters
Caption: Allan Johnson (EcoMatters volunteer) presenting the flowers to Raewyn Stanaway (Property Manager) and Jacquie Mardon (Property Portfolio Manager), Barfoot & Thompson Grey Lynn.
Replacement of the Huia 1 watermain has seen the first stage completed through Blockhouse Bay. Contractors have now finished work in Heaphy Street. They made good progress at an average of two pipes per day (24m).
The crew has now moved to another job but will return over the Christmas shut down to cross the Blockhouse Bay Rd roundabout. After that the replacement work will continue along Donovan Street.
Church finds new ways to connect
Unprecedented. That’s a word we’ve heard often this year as we grapple with life in this COVID-19 world. COVID has changed the way we work, shop, holiday, socialise and, for those of us at Blockhouse Bay Baptist Church, the way we’ve done church.
Although disappointed at being unable to physically meet together as a community of faith, we continue to do all we can to care for our community, consider how we can serve our neighbours, and adhere to the lockdown protocols for the benefit of others. We have shifted from live services to posting Sunday service content on YouTube with age-specific engagement for kids and youth on a weekly basis. We have also gathered on Zoom for times of sharing, communion, and prayers as well as phone calls, texts, and the provision of practical care for one another.
We recognise how difficult this time is for many in our community. Working in partnership with the Glen Avon Trust we are supporting those who are struggling with job loss and lowered incomes. As the home for the Blockhouse Bay Combined Food Pantry, we continue to distribute food parcels (including home-made soup) while maintaining meeting limits and social distancing. We have also made and distributed 500 washable masks to individuals and groups in our community.
These efforts stem from a concern over how COVID can isolate us from one another. Being part of a community is essential for our well-being and being proactive in connecting helps alleviate loneliness and listlessness.
With the challenge of planning in these uncertain times and out of concern for our community, we’ve made the decision to cancel this year’s Hair Raising Hat Party. 2020 would have been the 20th consecutive year that we’ve hosted this event for our community, and we’re saddened that it will not proceed this year. All things being well, however, we look forward to celebrating with you in October 2021.
The team at Blockhouse Bay Baptist Church
‘Almost’ Legally Blonde
Although Avondale College’s production of Legally Blonde was unable to go ahead as planned this year, the talented cast were able to perform three songs from the musical to their year level assemblies.
This was a spectacular showcase of the performing arts and a tribute to all the hard work and many, many hours of rehearsals that have taken place over recent months.
Accolades are deserved by each one of the nearly one hundred students involved in the cast, band and behind the scenes, and to all the dedicated staff, notably Director Mrs Erica Norton, Choreographer Ms Santana Schmidt, Musical Director Dr Julie Garner and Vocal Coach Toni Randle.
The production was not the only casualty of the capricious timing of COVID-19; the school ball was cancelled, as were the 75th Anniversary celebrations and the Senior Report evening, and the winter sports tournaments have been cut short.
Principal Mrs Lyndy Watkinson, while disappointed that so many plans have been thwarted this year, is immensely proud of the way Avondale College students have pushed through what has been a very challenging year. “I want to acknowledge the students for their ongoing positivity in school, and for their willingness to make the very most of the activities and events that we are still able to run”, she says.
Fortunately, the timing was favourable for the school’s 2020 Jazz & Soul concert in early August, resulting in a fabulous night of music including items from the Jazz Academy, the Dale Soul band, the Avondale College Stage Band, Big Band, Gospel Choir and several jazz combos.
It was clear that much hard work had been taking place throughout the year. For many students this was the first real opportunity to perform this year, given the cancellations of the Tauranga Jazz Festival, Auckland Schools Jazz Festival, and the KBB Music Festival. The performances can be seen on the school’s Vimeo page: https://vimeo.com/avcol.
Another highlight was Y13 music student Tamanna Srivastava named as a finalist in the nationwide Play It Strange song writing competition.
Tamanna's original song, Before I'm Wide Awake, caught the attention of the judges, earning her not only the kudos and a Rock Shop prize voucher, but also a professional recording studio session valued at $1000, and a place in the 'Play it Strange' 2020 album. That’s an outstanding achievement for a young artist!