Making It Panmure

2022 - 2024

  • Panmure
  • Complete

The people 'making it' Panmure.

Four photographic projects - Making it Creative / Making It It / Making It Active / Making It Delicious.

Panmure Skateboarding 6 Copy

Making it creative

The Making It Project is a series that documents the people that make Panmure what it is. Now in its fourth iteration, this exhibition focuses on a unique mix of people from various creative disciplines. (You can keep scrolling down to the previous three iterations as well)

No Six, a local digital content creative agency, alongside photographer Isoa Kavakimotu, developed the images and interviews that make up this display.

We hope you enjoy these portraits and stories of the people who add so much value to Panmure.

The Making It Project is a collaboration between Eke Panuku Development Auckland (Auckland Council’s urban regeneration agency), No Six and Fresh Concept (Creative placemaking agency).

Photography by Isoa Kavakimotu.

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Creative Artist Julia Zhu

“To sum up my art in one sentence, it would be done by hand.”

Julia started making origami and paper crafts from an early age, and received the ‘Hard Materials Award’ at Tamaki Intermediate. As a teenager, she developed her crochet skills and went on to study fine arts at university.

Since then, Julia has sold her work at markets and made online tutorials to teach other creatives modular origami and crochet. Although she now works in a hospital, Julia has continued to develop her creative practice, in particular large-scale installations, and is very interested in ‘Mark Making’; creating different patterns, lines, textures, and shapes in her work.

Julia’s current focus is on creating handmade signage such as chalkboard or wall art for bars and cafés.

Julia loves that Panmure is close to everything, and would love to see more creative events happening in and around the town.

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Digital Media Specialist Isoa Kavakimotu

“Taking photos is fulfilling for my soul, a photo is a snapshot in time, it’s immortalised forever which is so cool.”

Based in Panmure, Isoa specialises in photography, video, audio, and digital design. He has done work for community organisations, such as the HEART Movement and Te Waipuna Puawai, and has photographed two iterations of the ‘Making It’ Project.

With all the changes happening to the area, Isoa is sad that Panmure is losing its character and becoming more homogenised, but also appreciates that these changes may give birth to a new Panmure.

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Kirkwood’s Barber Hauwhenua Kirkwood

“I want my kids to have a house in this area, or maybe open a business under our ancestral maunga like myself, and to help Panmure thrive again, as it did in the past.”

Hauwhenua is proud to own a business that lies in the shadow of Maungarei/Mt Wellington, and on land where his ancestors lived. Born and raised in Panmure, he knows the area like the back of his hand. Although schooled elsewhere, Hauwhenua could see constant change to the built landscape with houses being demolished and new builds going in each time he returned during school holidays.

Hauwhenua sees many new faces, but thinks the changes will help to make Panmure flourish again. He believes it’s the people that make Panmure special, with its comfortable vibe, convenience to work and the customers bringing in great local stories.

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Multi-disciplinary Artist Bai Buliruarua

“Panmure is a sweet little town. It’s got a diverse community, and lots of variety of places to eat. It’s a special place that anyone would be honoured to be a part of.”

Bai is a multi-disciplinary artist based out east. His family moved to Panmure in the late 90s where they lived until 2022. They now reside in Pt England.

Growing up, Bai wanted to be an artist. He loved being creative, especially drawing and painting. At university he discovered a passion for storytelling, leading him to study communications,
majoring in screen production.

Bai works a lot with Māoriland Charitable Trust in Ōtaki, and has been with them since 2019. Over that time, Bai has developed a further love for indigenous and Pacific storytelling, as well as gaining more skills, opportunities, and experiences.

At the time of this interview, Bai was working on the pre-production for a short film he wrote at school in 2021, inspired by his move away from Panmure.

Growing up in East Auckland has influenced his creative journey. Bai finds there are many eccentric people out east, and a strong sense of community. The area has inspired how he creates characters, especially relating to place, home, community, and how we think about them, as well as how we are influenced and inspired by the places we grow up and raise our families.

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TGTB Charitable Trust Claudine Mailei

“Having local youth as part of the mural-making process makes it really, really special, because of the ownership. It’s nice to invite artists into our community to paint, but if locals aren’t involved, then it defeats the purpose as it’s their place. We want them to be proud of the work.”

Claudine is currently TGTB’s (a locally-led, community arts focused, not-for-profit organisation) creative director. TGTB, amongst other things, works with local youth in the area to bring their art into the community, in particular, two murals painted in Dunlop Lane, Panmure, in 2018.

As an artist, Claudine works mainly in digital art, and murals.

Her current role as a curator sees her working with artists from all walks of life, supporting them to create installations in Tāmaki. TGTB facilitates workshops with youth where they can learn the theory behind mural-making from industry professionals, before taking a hands-on approach to gain practical experience.

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Whakairo Leon Kipa

“The Panmure shopping strip has seen better days, but as it’s so central to everything, it makes sense that as people come back to live and invest in the place, Panmure will become a vibrant little community again.”

Leon describes himself as a multi-disciplinary artist, with a particular focus on whakairo/carving. His creative background is in industrial design, painting, and model and figurine making.

Panmure has been his home since 2011, having previously lived in Ōrākei. His work commute to East Tāmaki took him through Glen Innes and Panmure, so the area was very familiar to him,
making it easy to settle his family in Panmure.

When Leon was young, his father told him about his connection to Tainui iwi and his tipuna/ forefathers, who traveled from east to west via the Tāmaki river to the Waikato. That history and connection to his iwi and whakapapa has led Leon to feel settled and relaxed in Panmure, with Maungarei/Mt Wellington, Panmure Basin and the Tāmaki River, contributing to his creative process. This connection can now be passed on to his son.

Leon’s wife is from Taiwan and they see themselves as part of Panmure’s diverse, ethnic community, with many of the Panmure food outlets offering kai for both Leon and his wife’s different tastes.

Leon sees Panmure as a hidden gem, with its convenience to public transport, Auckland city and Sylvia Park, its fertile ground, and the abundance of natural flora and fauna. As an artist, Leon is keen to contribute to making Panmure more vibrant again. He would love the Sunday flea market grow to include more crafts, and sees there are so many possibilities to help move Panmure forward.

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OHN Clothing John Tanuvasa

“Panmure is like craziness wrapped up in a nice present.”

John grew up to the sound of his mother’s sewing machine and
realised that making clothes could be a career. John loves being
creative and has explored many different creative mediums,
such as jewellery making, textiles, and clothing design.

John has lived in the area for 29 years and has been the owner
of OHN Clothing for the past three years. OHN Clothing is an
emerging Pacific clothing brand designed for plus-sized men.

John thinks that Panmure is similar to Glen Innes, as it has
a diverse community, is a safe space, and a place where
everyone gets along with each other. In John’s teenage years,
Panmure represented a central meeting point for his diverse
range of friends to go out east.

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Artist Tewai Moehurori

“Panmure is unique because there is a true unity amongst the people living there, a connection with each family through school and sports, a connection that spans through generations.”

Tewai is a local artist who was born at her grandparents house in Glen Innes and moved to Panmure when she was just four years of age.

Tewai thinks the community has not changed over the years. It is still tight-knit, from generation to generation. She says that ‘with Panmure you always feel like you’re coming back home.’

Tewai sees herself as part of a lost generation, where speaking te reo was not encouraged, and Māori lost their connection to their identity, their heritage, whakapapa, and some form of belonging. Today’s generation has a new awareness that is expressed through different creative outlets. She thinks this is in part due
to the new housing developments by Tāmaki Regeneration and Kāinga Ora, changing the landscape and bringing more people from overseas into the area. She loves to see that a new awareness of diversity has emerged, which has encouraged an openness and appreciation of all cultures.

Tewai would love today’s children to be part of the discussion about what future Panmure looks and sounds like. “Our young people’s voices are important.”

Making it Panmure

The Making It Project is a series that documents the people that make Panmure what it is.

This is the third iteration of this project (see iterations one and two below). This time, we focused on a unique mix of people from various businesses and organisations. Some people who have been here for a long time, and some who are relatively new to the area.

There is a common thread throughout the interviews, and that is of optimism and positivity about Panmure. The area has gone through significant change, and will continue to do so.

No Six, a local digital content creative agency, developed a series of images and interviews which make up this display. We hope you enjoy these portraits and stories of the people who add so much value to Panmure.

This Making It Project is a collaboration between Eke Panuku Development Auckland (Auckland Council’s urban regeneration agency), No Six and Fresh Concept (Creative placemaking agency).

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Peace Experiment 18 Pilkington Rd Steven Arnold

Steven lives and works in Panmure, and loves being part of the diverse community, as well as being close to the natural resources of the Panmure Basin and Maungarei/Mt Wellington.

Steven established the Peace Experiment six and half years ago, which is a high school for 11 to 18 year olds. A place for young people to explore who they are and what matters in the world. A place that follows the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, developed by the United Nations.

These goals offer opportunities for everyone to learn about themselves, working with others, and contributing positively to the environment. Steven feels safe within this community as people embrace the multiculturalism of the area. it is a loving community, a healing community.

“Learn from the pain of the past, but learn from the positive things that have contributed to this special part of the Auckland isthmus.”

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Panmure Library 7/13 Pilkington Rd Adrienne Hodson

After working in libraries across Auckland, Adrienne fell in love with the Panmure community, and the great library team, so decided to not only take on full-time employment at the library, but to also live nearby as well.

When Adrienne started working in Panmure 10 years ago, she felt that the town centre was not a safe place to be in, but the work that the library team has done along with the amazing safety initiatives managed by the Panmure Business Association and the town centre security officer, has really changed people’s perspectives on coming here.

People come from all over Auckland to enjoy the great food outlets and destination shops that are available in the town centre.

“The library is a community hub. People from all walks of life come here just to chill out or to get assistance with something. Libraries are not just about books these days.”

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Fire and Emergency New Zealand 30 Pilkington Rd Mike O’Conner

Michael is a Senior firefighter at the Mt Wellington Fire Station, and is proud to be a third-generation local.

Starting his school holiday life as a postie, Michael knows the area like the back of his hand, which is a huge asset when it comes to getting quickly to an emergency.

The major change he has seen is the massive growth of new buildings. Michael is sad to see the old neighbourhood go, but equally understands that the new housing is much needed for a growing Auckland.

Michael feels that the people who come from Panmure are proud of the fact that they grew up here, even though it was a ‘bit rough around the edges’. There is a great community spirit. The people combined with the mountain, basin, and Dunkirk Park make it a pretty cool place.

Looking to the future, Michael hopes that Panmure will retain its identity and character. He would love to see the businesses in the town centre continue to thrive. Great businesses like Peach’s Hot Chicken is booming, bringing people into town from all over. Perhaps more businesses like that are needed.

(Michael lives) “down the line’ but I still have friends and family connections with the area. I really enjoy working in a place that I am so connected to. There is a bit of pride for me to be able to serve this community and to be able to give back to the area where I was raised.”

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Ecstacy Eye Wear 8 Pilkington Rd Sumit Chhabra

After working in the eyewear industry for six years, Sumit decided to take the risk and set up his own business. After researching premises in the wider area, he chose Panmure as the rent was affordable, allowing him to renovate the shop with a modern fit out. Also, the town centre is centrally located to suburbs such as Mt Wellington, Howick, Remuera, and Ellerslie.

Sumit focuses on being a successful destination shop by using the right advertising, affordable prices, and giving excellent customer service. Sumit is keen to expand to other places in Auckland but says that Panmure holds a close connection with him.

“Panmure is really close to me, I’ve spent a lot of time in the area since moving to New Zealand. This shop will always be home.”

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Golden Apple 79 Queens Rd Evelyn Davis

Evelyn and her husband Gordon established their clothing and alteration business on Queens Rd in 2001, and have a loyal customer base who regularly use Evelyn’s alteration, curtain making, and millinery skills.

Panmure is a good location with customers coming from Mt Wellington and Otahuhu, as well as many people who just walk into town.

“The people are nice and very friendly, Many know me well, and they often call me Mumma.”

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Salvation Army Tāmaki Family Store 159 Queens Rd ... Morrisey

…. has lived all his life in the area and seen a few changes over the years such as the construction in and around the old Roundabout, and feels that the town is much quieter now. New to his role as store manager, … enjoys being able to interact with a diverse range of people on a daily basis. The Family Store has been around for a long time, providing a big role in serving the community.

… would like to see a more lively Panmure in the future.

“It’s the people who bring the life to this place, it’s the culture and environment that really matter.”

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CNSST Foundation 15 Clifton Court Gloria Gao

CNSST made the move to Panmure in January 2010 because of its central location and accessibility to public transport, as well as an existing hub for ethnic groups active in the community. Panmure has good public facilities such as the library and swimming pool, as well as medical centres and an asian supermarket close by.

Gloria has seen many changes over the past few years, with road construction, good transport links, and improved community safety. What has not changed is the resilience of the local small to medium sized business operators who survived the impacts of the COVID lockdown, who are now thriving.

The Panmure community is culturally diverse and young and energetic, with good neighbourhood support and connections. Gloria likes that Panmure is a multicultural society with mutual respect in the neighbourhood, and without discrimination.

CNSST would like to see the town centre modernised with redevelopment. We would love to host a diverse cultural and food centre, and make Panmure an attractive tourism spot.

CNSST is a service hub for both residents and businesspeople from across Auckland.

“Looking towards the future of Panmure, it will be a safe, inclusive, thriving, culturally diverse community. We would love Panmure to be developed as a model community of Auckland.”

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Mt Wellington & Panmure RSA 104 Queens Road Leon Matthew

Leon has served as the President of the Mt Wellington & Panmure RSA for the past sixteen years. He says with a chuckle ‘that it’s because no one else wants the job’.

Leon has lived in the Mt Wellington, Panmure and Pakuranga area for over 30 years, and has seen lots of changes over that time.

He points out that even though lots of people have left the area due to the demolition of so many of the state houses, he sees the ever-increasing number of people moving into the new housing. He likens this new resurgence of people to the massive construction of houses in the suburbs of Panmure, Point England and Glen Innes to house the men and their families just after World War 2. To acknowledge the returning service men, many streets in the suburb of Panmure were named after battles fought in that war. Leon comments that these new people are the basis of a new community, just like the new families moving into the area after World War 2.

One of the biggest changes over the time Leon that has lived in the area is the ethnic diversity of both the residential and business communities. There are so many different varieties of food on offer in the town centre which attract locals as well as people from all over Auckland. Leon comments that the popularity of the food outlets along with a residential apartment located within the town centre, does impact on the number of available car parks for the RSA customers, many of which are elderly.

Leon is very positive about the future of Panmure and hopes the building owners try to improve the look of their aging buildings and keep rents at an affordable level so new businesspeople can establish good businesses within the town centre.

“What I love about Panmure, is that people always say good morning to you when you pass them in the street.”

Here is a selection of some of other photos from this project...

Making it active

Tāmaki Makaurau has many amazing strengths, but the city’s multiculturalism is way up there. Take Panmure: this delightful east Auckland suburb, nestled against the scenic Panmure Basin, boasts residents from a wide variety of countries, many of whom take the time to cook and bake exquisite kai. Back in May, photographer Julie Zhu toured outlets throughout Panmure’s town centre. Here’s what she found…

Over three weeks we met 12 people who help make this the fun and active place that it is.

We asked them, why Panmure? The resulting conversations revealed all the things that people love so much about this fantastic suburb and its surrounds – including the Basin, the shared paths and open spaces, the great coffee and kai, as well as the town’s culture and heritage, and its caring community. Not to mention the beloved wildlife – Panmure is home to Auckland’s only suburban Pied Shag colony!

We hope you enjoy these portraits and stories of the people who spend their precious spare time in Panmure, doing the things that bring them joy. We have included a couple of organisations in neighbouring Mt Wellington, too, since they are so close by and such popular destinations for many in the Panmure community.

Throughout this project we researched and contacted dozens of local clubs, organisations and activity groups in Panmure. We weren’t able to feature all of them in this series - but we love what they do.

From tennis, to swimming, to model boats and rock climbing - there are loads of things to do around Panmure. Check out the many clubs and activities and try something new in your neighbourhood!

The Making It Project is a collaboration between Eke Panuku Development Auckland and Fresh Concept with photography by Julie Zhu.

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Uni-Mount Bohemian AFC - Bill McKinlay Park Bob & Grace

Bob has been a part of the same football team for over 40 years. It all started after the Springbok Tour protests in 1973 - Bob and fellow protestors were accused of being anti-sport by the big clubs so they started their own rugby team to prove them wrong. Not long after, they decided they were tired of getting beat up on the field and decided to play soccer instead.

A series of club mergers brought them to Bill McKinlay Park, where Bob reckons (after some quick calculations!) that two or even three hundred people of different ages and experience play football each week. One of these is Grace, who’s been playing for about five years, though Bob says she’s far surpassed his own skills already. While her dad is helping out as a referee, Grace sometimes subs in for Bob’s team. Bill McKinlay Park is both Bob and Grace’s favourite place in Panmure - though Bob also enjoys a trip to Queen’s Kebabs or one of the local op shops.

“At some stage the decision was made to move away from focusing on top class football to focusing on the community, and community football. Lots of people play here, it's a real mix now.” – Bob

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East Skate Club - Panmure Basin Skatepark Jessica

At 12 years old, Jessica has recently attended the New Zealand X Air competition and won the women’s division. To say she’s talented feels like an understatement. She travels all over Auckland to visit different skateparks, but the Panmure Basin was one of her first, and was a frequent outing for her and her whānau during the lockdowns, when they had to stick closer to home.

Jessica’s dad Alan tells us about growing up in Panmure, and the changes he’s noticed in the neighbourhood. He’s the reason Jessica took up skating in the first place - his old skateboards were all around the house and one day Jessica decided to give it a go. Jessica likes the skatepark for its proximity to the basin, and the local Pied Shag colony, though she thinks it could be even better with a few more ramps and quarter pipes.

“I like this skatepark because of the basin and all the water around it. It’s fun and there’s music playing from the pool sometimes.” - Jessica

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Auckland Society of Model Engineers - Peterson Reserve Mike

In 1962, on the site of the future Swimarama (now the Lagoon Pools), the Auckland Society of Model Engineers (ASME) began to build an oval miniature railway. When the railway had to move to make room for the pools, they selected Peterson Reserve, which is where the railway lives today, right by the Panmure Basin.

Mike has been with ASME for 10 years now, and can often be found there on Sunday afternoons, when the railway springs to life offering $2 rides to the public. He didn’t always have an interest in trains, but he’s always loved engines. Mike drives the train while his wife, Toni, helps organise the tickets. Mike would love to see this club continue to grow, and the next generation keep this much-loved Panmure tradition alive.

“We get a lot of people just walking around the basin who didn’t even know we were here. I like to talk to them and show them through our clubrooms, to see all the different stuff we’ve got up there.” - Mike

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Panmure Lagoon Sailing Club - Panmure Basin Meijing

When Meijing was looking for a new place to live, she told the real estate agent that she wanted to live near a train station. They didn’t understand - usually people want to know about things like good schools, but Meijing wanted good transport. Now she has that, and a whole lot more. She lives right by the Panmure Basin, and the Panmure Lagoon Sailing Club where she and other members can often be found pushing out their boats on a Sunday when the tides are right.

When I ask Meijing what she likes about Panmure, she lists basically everything. She loves how connected it is, bumping into neighbours on her morning run around the basin, the barbershops and food options on Queens Road, and of course learning to sail. She’s still building her confidence on the boats, and laughs as she tells us about a recent capsize, but her clubmates are always full of encouragement. At our photoshoot, Meijing has her first go with a full sail. She brings the boat back safely.

“Panmure is very convenient, and people are friendly. You’re close to the city, you have Mt Wellington, lots of culture and heritage, as well as just being able to get out and enjoy nature. What more do you want?!” - Meijing

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Eastside Grapplers - Clifton Court Sime

At Eastside Grapplers, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu terminology and phrases are translated on the wall into te reo Māori. Sime tells us it's important to him that he makes the sport more accessible to Māori and Pasifika, as well as people from other cultures who may want to give it a try. Panmure, which Sime describes as a true melting pot, was the perfect place to make that dream a reality.

Sime likes the Clifton Court community, where the studio sits beside the Panmure Business Association. The playground and table tennis keeps the kids busy before and after his classes, and he looks forward to seeing what else will pop up as their little corner of Panmure develops. He also enjoys heading up the maunga with friends before heading to Lola Cafe for coffee and kai.

“It’s a community that cares. People in Panmure are genuinely friendly and really go the extra mile, whether that's to help others, to start a business or to celebrate important events.” - Sime

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Mt Wellington Artistic Roller Skating Club - Skateland Khushi, Joey & Cadence

Khushi, Joey and Cadence may not have been around when Skateland first opened back in the 1970s, but they’ve been skating here for most of their lives. Khushi lives just a walk away from the rink, Cadence’s mum used to skate here on a Friday night, and Joey’s older sister trained at Skateland before she did. At the time of our interview the teenage trio are training to compete in the 2022 Oceania Championships.

They all feel lucky to have Skateland nearby. It's rare to have a place these days which is dedicated to skating. The three of them remember years of skating in the Panmure Christmas Parade, with the fear and excitement of going down the steep part of Pilkington Drive. They’ve also been involved in the Panmure Fun Day with a mini rink set up along the basin.

“I like Panmure the way it is! Everywhere in Auckland is different and it has its own thing going on. Like if you go to the Waitākere, it’s bushes and big walks - and for Panmure we have the basin.” - Khushi

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Bike East Auckland - Tāmaki Path Tyson

Tyson’s first experiences of cycling were in Panmure, where he was born and raised. He fondly remembers riding around the neighbourhood with groups of 10 or even 20 other local kids. It is these memories of the joy he felt exploring Panmure on his bike that brought him back to cycling years later, when he decided he needed a career change.

Tyson talks about Panmure with an infectious enthusiasm - the town has changed a lot over the years, and though he’d love to get in a time machine to go back to his joyful childhood, he doesn’t think change is a bad thing. He talks about the new shared paths, the increase in housing and all the new communities that are being built here. Tyson hopes that the community of Panmure will only continue to grow stronger.

“Now that they have all these new shared paths popping up you can get to Panmure, GI, Mt Wellington and keep away from all the traffic. Which is what people want; they want a safe haven.” - Tyson

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Panmure Pioneers Petanque Club Andrew

For Andrew, petanque is a family affair. Alongside his sister and dad, he was part of the first family team to win the New Zealand national championships. Andrew’s daughter Charlie is only three, so she’s not quite ready to join the team yet, but he hopes that one day she’ll pick up the mantle too. Petanque has taken Andrew and his whānau to Portugal, France & Switzerland - but usually you’ll find them just around the corner at the Panmure Pioneers Petanque Club.

Thanks to the Mt Wellington Bowling Club, the Panmure Pioneers found a home here in 2012 and named themselves after the pioneering history of the area. Andrew enjoys more mainstream sports like rugby, but tells us that what’s special about petanque is that it's a sport for everyone. He hopes the club can be a place for people of all ages, cultures and abilities to gather, compete and laugh together.

“I love the town centre - watching it evolve over the last 20 years has been cool. Its people too. From its schools to your businesses to your leisure activities, Panmure is a special place.” – Andrew

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Scale Marine Modellers - Peterson Reserve Ian

Ian joined the Scale Marine Modellers in 1993, just four years after they had built the boat pond, right on the edge of the Panmure Basin. He tells us he’s here almost every Sunday, sailing his boats, talking to the public, or fixing up the clubrooms and garden - there’s always something else to do on his list.

When a club member’s boat capsizes on the edge of the pool during our photoshoot, Ian rushes over to help. While they’re busy inspecting the boat and talking about weight distribution, I ask another member what happens if a boat sinks in the pool. He tells us that Ian has a pair of waders (waterproof overalls often used for fishing) on standby.

“If you come down to the basin you’ll discover that there’s a railway track and a boat pond and it’s a great place to come on a Sunday afternoon. There’s heaps of open grass space too!” - Ian

Here is a selection of some of other photos from this project...

Making it delicious

Tāmaki Makaurau has many amazing strengths, but the city’s multiculturalism is way up there. Take Panmure: this delightful east Auckland suburb, nestled against the scenic Panmure Basin, boasts residents from a wide variety of countries, many of whom take the time to cook and bake exquisite kai. Back in May, photographer Julie Zhu toured outlets throughout Panmure’s town centre. Here’s what she found…

Having been born in Xi'an, China and grown up in east Tāmaki Makaurau, Julie has first-hand experience navigating between different cultures. With a great eye and an interest in championing marginalised voices and stories, we decided that she’d be the perfect artist to helm this project along with creative placemaking agency Fresh Concept and the Panmure Business Association.

Over a three-week period, Julie visited fourteen Panmure eateries to document the people who make Panmure Panmure. She asked about how they ended up in the neighbourhood about the local community, and their hopes for the future of the neighbourhood. Then, each restaurateur had their own trademark Julie Zhu portrait taken.

The result: a heartwarming snapshot of the people behind the food of Panmure - their faces, their lives, and their stories.

Freshconcept Panmure 5

Sylvia’s Bakery (12 Queens Road) Sylvia

Sylvia reaches Panmure in the silent hours of the early morning, ready to start baking at 2am. She has run her bakery here on Queens Road for three and half years, after moving it from Remuera. The passionate baker says the move was difficult at first, but she’s confident she made the right decision.

With a wry grin, Sylvia tells us that traditional bakeries are dying businesses. She talks of growing up in a small German village with seven bakeries. Her family would visit them all - picking the best from each. She hopes she can bring just a little piece of that heritage to Panmure, so that her grandchildren can get a taste of what her own childhood was like.

“I think Panmure is an up-and-coming area. There are many young people moving here, there is a lot of building work going on, we have the train station right there, and all of the bus connections.” - Sylvia

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Master Chinese (150 Queens Road) Peter & Tracey

When Peter’s father came to Aotearoa from China, he founded up a successful roast duck takeaway in Ōtāhuhu. 18 years later, he opened Master Chinese here on Panmure’s Queens Road, so that Peter could continue the family business.

Fast-forward another 18 years: Peter and Tracey are busy handling the lunch rush. Despite the influx of orders, they seem completely at ease, stopping to say hi and chat with customers and passers-by. Peter tells us that the locals stop to say hello even if they’re not buying food.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes here, a lot of new businesses, and different types of food opening up. Before it was mostly Chinese, but now there is Malaysian, Thai, Indian, Sri Lankan, everything.” - Peter

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Chang Thai Cafe (146 Queens Road) Ket

Ket opened Chang Thai Cafe a few months ago. There are just two of them working, her and Chef Aoddy, and things have been very busy. Ket’s daughter Leanna plays on a couch in the corner of the dining room, which is closed for now while they get in the rhythm of their new business.

Ket tells us that the restaurant used to be a South African eatery, and this is still evident. The walls are bright yellow with pictures of African safari animals. You may think South African and Thai wouldn’t have much in common, but Ket tells me that the South African decor was actually a happy coincidence. “Chang” means elephant in Thai, so it fits perfectly. Ket was thrilled that the old owners left her all the elephant memorabilia.

“The chef used to drive an Uber, so he came around here a lot. He said people were very friendly around here. So, we came out here to check it out a few times and got a feel for the community.” - Ket

Panmure Photo Peaches

Peach’s Hot Chicken (100 Queens Road) Alex

Don’t let the American accent fool you: Alex is a committed Panmurian. He and his wife Olivia have been living in the local area since they first arrived in Aotearoa seven years ago. That’s why it was a no-brainer that their successful food truck's first brick-and-mortar store would be on Queens Road.

Alex loves Panmure’s unique landscape and local community - the only thing missing, in his mind, is a live music venue. When he’s not busy serving up his signature fried chicken, Alex can be found taking their Australian Cattle Dog up Mount Wellington, around the basin, or to Pt England Reserve to throw balls.

“I grew up in Tennessee, which is very rural. So like, Auckland is actually the largest city I've ever lived in. My wife asked to come back to New Zealand for a gap year and, well, I just never left.” – Alex

Panmure Photo Nasi Kandar

Nasi Kandar Pulau Pinang (24 Queens Road) Joe & Alex

It’s been just shy of a year since Joe and Alex opened Nasi Kandar’s doors on Queens Road, but they already feel fully integrated into the community. After a year making food at the Night Markets, the pair decided to set up in Panmure due to its links with the Malaysian community.

Joe tells us that they love visiting the other eateries along Panmure’s main strip, listing off where they like to go, and who comes to visit them in return. He jokes that no one wants to eat their own food - just everyone else’s!

“We really like this area, we are moving here soon. We would like to put our base here, since we are here so much and a lot of people know us here… But it’s also because of petrol, petrol is very expensive!” – Joe

Freshconcept Panmure 99

Ambula (59 Queens Road) Sri

Like a number of Panmure’s great eateries, Ambula started out of a caravan. In 2018 they took the next step, opening a brick-and-mortar store on Queens Road, right across the road from one of Panmure’s two Sri Lankan supermarkets.

Sri lives and works in the local area, as does most of the staff, and she enjoys the convenience of having everything she needs in one place. She says that working in the restaurant can be full on at times, but she goes on daily walks down to Panmure Basin to reset and relax.

“Panmure has a lot of Sri Lankan people and culture. There are a lot of Sri Lankan shops and spices. What we don’t make ourselves here at the restaurant, we can buy from right over there!” – Sri

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The Cafe With No Name (55 Queens Road) Sharon

For the owner of a cafe with no name, Sharon has made quite a name for herself in the Panmure community. Before opening the cafe five years ago, she ran a nearby childcare centre, and now sits on the Panmure Business Association board.

Sharon talks about her love for the Panmure community and the importance of supporting local. She uses the local pharmacy, prints her menus at the copy shop right next door, and reckons she’s tried just about every Panmure eatery there is.

“You can get just about anything that you want right here in Panmure. You just have to take the time to walk down the street and ask people and have a chat. And then you can go for a really healthy walk around the lagoon, take a coffee with you, go for a walk up the maunga.” – Sharon

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Xi’an Food Bar (83 Queens Road) Cindy

Cindy has been working at Xi’an Food Bar for more than 10 years - right from when she first arrived in New Zealand. She loves the convenience of Panmure, with its many shops and other eateries at her disposal.

Cindy tells us that she enjoys the friendships she has here in Panmure, both with the other Xi’an employees and the customers. In the future, she would like to see Panmure become a more environmentally friendly community and have more convenient transportation.

“You see lots of customers who come here to eat and then they become your really good friends. They treat this like a dining hall, they come here for lunch and then come here for dinner.” - Cindy

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Kalye Manila (68 Queens Road) Angeli

Angeli has been at Kalye Manila for three months, though the Filipino cafe has been here since 2017. She came to Aotearoa with her 18-month-old daughter, while her husband is still in the Philippines with their eldest.

Angeli spends most of her time at the cafe, or at home with her daughter. However, when she has time to be out-and-about it is often spent in Panmure visiting either of the two Filipino stores to buy familiar treats.

“I look forward to spending time here whenever I can. I usually go to Postie, or I go to Rey Ann Filipino Superette and buy something and talk with them. For me this is a very accessible place.” - Angeli

Freshconcept Panmure 165

Queen’s Kebabs (133 Queens Road) Raheleh

Queens Kebabs has been a fixture of Queens Road for over 20 years. Raheleh and her husband bought the business 10 years ago from the previous owner, now deceased, whose photo hangs proudly on the wall.

Raheleh’s favourite thing about having a business in Panmure is the people, and she says the community here is very strong. She tells me that she and her husband wanted to live near the restaurant, but due to the competitiveness of the housing market, had to buy further afield.

“We like this street the same as our house. Everybody is very close, same as brothers. I arrive here in the morning and they say ‘hello, hello, hello’ - we are all very friendly people to each other.” - Raheleh

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Panmure Satay Noodle House (103 Queens Road) Sam

Sam signed the lease for Panmure Satay Noodle House’s building within one day of seeing the space empty. It was his first time in Panmure. When his friends all asked him why he would make a decision so quickly, he replied that he just had a good feeling about it. He liked Panmure, and he wanted to try.

Four years later, that risk has paid off.

Sam has an infectious enthusiastic energy, and a huge grin, even when he talks about the hard stuff, like being assaulted by a stranger. He tells me that after it happened, the local business association installed a camera to help him feel safer. Sam refuses to feel fear, he says resiliently – only pride in himself and what he has built here.

“I see people move out and move in. But I survive, I don’t move out. But when people move out, new people move in. That’s just the cycle! Maybe if I move out someone else would move in. But I’d like to stay here.” – Sam

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The Walawwa (2 Basin View Lane) Shani & Mahesh

Shani and Manesh opened The Walawwa in 2019, just one year before the pandemic hit. It’s been a rocky journey, but they are now starting to find their feet with a steady flow of customers, from Tāmaki Makaurau and beyond, looking for great Sri Lankan kai.

Shani tells us that the community in Panmure is resilient and that they band together when things go wrong. She thinks the support Panmure businesses have for each other is really impressive, and that there is a lot of unity among them. The restaurateur enjoys trying all the different cultures and flavours that the neighbourhood has to offer.

“In Panmure we have a real variety, you have so many different cultures here, and they have different restaurants. People can come and they can taste different kinds of food. And it’s cheap!” – Shani

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Beijing Duck Restaurant (38 Queens Road) Yue & Jie

Back in Beijing, Yue worked in a centuries-old restaurant famous for their roast duck. It was a natural progression, then, that he would open a place of his own after immigrating to New Zealand.

17 years after Yue and Ji opened Beijing Duck Restaurant in Panmure, they’re well-placed to see the many changes of the area. Yue tells us that the street is far more beautiful now - though a little quieter. There are also far more restaurants than when they first opened. Yue hopes that this will continue, and that one day Panmure will have eateries from every country in the world.

“The shops on this street, we mostly all know each other, and we help each other out. When we go buy something, if it’s on this street, we will always get a discount! We all get along really well.” - Yue

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Blossom Court (135 Queens Road) Angel & Jason​​

Blossom Court has been in Panmure for ten years, and Angel & Jason have run it for five. Jason used to work for the previous owner, and when he wanted to retire he asked the pair to take over. Angel & Jason have already seen a good deal of change in their time here, and Angel hopes those changes will continue. For one, she’d like to see the buildings on the street be more modernized.

Jason & Angel enjoy the convenience of Panmure, not just for what's in the town centre, but the easy accessibility of their other favourite East Auckland activities, like visiting the beach at Mission Bay, or exploring One Tree Hill.

"The local business community helps our street a lot. The Business Association supported some of the shops to paint the rolling doors, and even the shop signs for some of them as well, they make Panmure much more beautiful." - Angel

Here is a selection of some of other photos from this project...

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