Final News Story – Totara Avenue

Ethnic flavours spice up street’s transformation

Totara Avenue in New Lynn, which once served as a path to brick kiln workers in the early days of Auckland and then a thoroughfare for traffic going to the city’s west, is now being transformed into a hub of multicultural activity.

The street has witnessed major developments over the past decades, including the country’s first modern shopping centre, Lynn Mall in the 1960s, to the recently developed multimodal transport station.

New Lynn is culturally diverse and celebrating this is the night market, one of the many initiatives, supported by the Auckland City Council and Whau Local Board.

This free-entry event has 25 hand picked food stalls and takes place on Thursday evenings from 5.30pm to 9pm outside the New Lynn Community Centre on 45, Totara Avenue.

The New Lynn night market is currently a six-month trial feature due to run from June 20 till December 19.

Bevan Chuang, the night market’s coordinator says the aim behind the event is “to revitalise the place.”

New Lynn is currently on the cusp of further growth and the changes around Totara Avenue mark the beginning of the future improvements for the area, Ms Chuang said.

Inspired by the local night markets in Asia, the Council emphasise on the essence of the event being community based rather than aiming for commercial success.

One of the community development aims of the night market is to showcase local businesses to allow them to gain recognition and confidence, while also bringing additional income.
“Store holders will tell you [they] make more money in one night [referring to the night market] than [at their] shop…over three days” the Ms Chuang said.

Ms Chuang also spoke of the social development aspects of the night market. The Wise Women program from the Auckland Regional Migrant Services is the example she used. The members are given a platform to make money, gain confidence and independence to eventually start up their own businesses and provide for their families without relying on social welfare.

A tea stall owner, Lee David, mentioned that night market, has made the community safer. While, another stall owner, Bhavna Deshpande, and a customer, James, believe the event brings the community together, serving as a place for people to learn about the many ethnicities in Auckland.

New Lynn’s infrastructural developments such as the addition of the shared space street, has increased pedestrian activity allowing events like the night market to become popular places to visit.

Permanency of the event is dependent solely on the results of the trial, Ms Chuang said.

However, other Auckland suburbs have begun showing interest, with Orakei being one.

Customers and vendors are also keen for the market to expand and grow. The council seems to be receiving more positive feedback than criticism, said Ms Chuang.

It certainly has gained popularity, having sold 530 plates of food in its 14th week.

Though the Auckland Council’s trial project runs only in New Lynn, there are similar markets around Auckland that are run by private companies in the parking lots of shopping malls.

New Lynn, however, provides an array of events throughout the year alongside the night market such as The Legends of the Moon, which featured for the second time this year due to popularity. Also the Tea and Toast event that told the story of New Lynn with the suburb’s icons imprinted on slices of toast, which visitors enjoyed with a cup of tea.

The next time you pass the suburb, budget a little extra time to visit Totara Avenue; it not only hosts many events but also houses sculptures and monuments that celebrate the suburb’s remarkable history.

What are your thoughts on the events and overall developments in New Lynn? Click HERE for the full interview with, Bevan Chuang. Please share any comments below or email newlynnbid@gmail.com for any queries.

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