festivals 2016

Is K Road the Best Damn Street In New Zealand?

We went to the Others Way Festival to find out what people think of Auckland’s most notorious street.

by Frances Morton
13 September 2016, 3:00am

Images: Michael Duignan

No street in Auckland—probably the entire New Zealand—has a history as varied and colourful as Karangahape Rd. Most people don't call it that. It's usually "K Rd". Which is sure quicker to say but kind of cheats the poetry of its full name. According to Maori legend, Hape's buddies set off from Hawaiki to discover New Zealand, leaving poor Hape behind because of his clubbed foot. While they paddled across the ocean Hape hopped on a stingray and zoomed to these shores way faster, so was able to karanga (call) them a welcome.  

Coincidence or not, Karangahape Rd is a place that celebrates difference and making your own way from the fringes. It's a magnet to artists, musicians, the queer community and creative entrepreneurs. All this makes it perfect for The Others Way festival, an urban crawl of alternative music that annually takes over the venues in the street. We went along to its second instalment to ask people what they love about Karangahape Rd.


Noisey: Hey Tash, what have you been up to today?
Tash: I've just been drinking at home.

What do you love about around here?
Just the people and stuff. I like going outside and seeing people. I live on this street.

How long have you been living here?
Only about four months.

It's not too noisy for you?
Not at my place. It's three stories down underground. The plumber described it as subterranean.

Why did you need the plumber?

My toilet didn't flush when I moved in. It's all fixed now.

Do you live with anyone else?
No it's just me and my cat and my two pet rats. I'm waiting for my friend who is buying me pizza. I didn't even know stuff was going on tonight. I've been hiding the last week.

Cut Off Your Hands


Noisey: Hey Phil, so what do you love about K Rd?
Phil: What I love is the nice community feel about the entire thing. I used to live here around the corner, when I first moved to Auckland in '95 and it used to kind of scare me on any night. It was like, dudes that were scary. Sometimes wasted dudes would end up on our stairs.

Where do you think they'd been?
Probably just handing out on K Rd.

Has it changed much?
Yeah, I guess. It still feels quite similar, just a bit more gentrified. Everyone's very angry about the guy from Shortland Street buying this place. I kinda like that guy. I feel like they're angry because he made a lot of money. He was the Loves Ugly Children drummer.

Who have you seen play tonight?
No-one. I wanted to get a ticket but I hear they're sold out.

So you've just come to hang?
It doesn't really matter. As long as I can hang.

The Twerps


Noisey: Hey. Can you tell me what you love about K Rd?
Geneva: I love the serendipity. Being on K Rd you're open to whatever the fuck happens that day.
Jess: I think all the music venues really contribute to the music scene.

Particularly tonight, right? Who have you seen tonight that's been amazing?
Jess: Scuba Diva and Kane Strang, of course.
Geneva: The Beths are playing right now. And I saw Emily Edrosa. That was good!

Geneva, what's a serendipitous moment you've had out here on the street?

Geneva: Well, when Margaret was alive, she was this famous street woman who hung out. She got me to buy her port with all the money she had begged. I was holding all this spare change and going into an alcohol store with all the change she'd got from people. She always asked for ciggies. She specifically asked for a particular port.

Why didn't she buy it herself?
Geneva: Because she wasn't allowed there. She was banned. She's infamous. I think the colour and the characters that you meet here are really important and unlike anyone that you come across.


Noisey: Hey Caitlin, what do think of K Rd?
Caitlin: I love K Rd because it's super interesting. It used to have a really weird reputation when I was growing up. My dad actually used to be the principal of a school down the road from here and he used to be like, K Rd is not a good place for me to go. As I've grown older it's become really cool with lots of personality. It's quite interesting.

Did your Dad think it was dangerous?
As an eight-year-old, he was saying, "Don't come here!" But now when I tell him I'm going to gigs on K Rd he thinks that's pretty cool.

Anything you hate about it?
Not really. I like how it's different. I like that it's the place to go if you're looking for something a bit different.

What about this festival?
I love The Others Way. I think it's great. I came last year and I didn't know a lot of the acts and had a really wonderful time. This year I've actually researched a little bit more. It's pretty cool.

Who are you most into seeing?
We've actually only been to Scuba Diva and we just went to Fazerdaze, now we're heading in to see The Beths.

I tried to see Scuba Diva but they finished early, right?
Yeah. They only really have two songs. Their Soundcloud is basically two preview songs, 30 seconds of content. But we really thought those 30 seconds were cool.

Got anything else to add?
James: Build the SkyPath on the bridge!
Caitlin: Add that as a little political mayoral debate.

Noisey: Hi Echo. Have you been to the gigs tonight?
Echo: Yeah, my favourite is i.e crazy. And Shab Orkestra.

Do you know K Rd?
Of course. I think all the cool people are here. Young people.

Do you come here a lot?
Yes, to all the secondhand stores.

Do you work here?
No I'm a student, from China. I've been here six months.

Are you wearing anything from K Rd?
This dress is from there, and my hat is from over there.


Noisey: Hey Fabian, I'm just asking people what they think of K Rd?
I work in K Rd. I'm a tattooist. This is my local place. I like to come to this bar because it's alternative. I don't even know what this band is playing. I prefer come here, because I like music.

Have you been working tonight?
Yeah, I finished work at about 9pm and then came to have drinks because tomorrow is my daughter's birthday.

How old is your daughter?
She's three.

Where are you from originally?
Chile. I've lived here for nine years. My ex is Kiwi. My daughter doesn't speak Spanish. She just speaks English. It's pretty bad. I try my best to teach her Spanish words. I don't want to push her.


SAM and ROBERT (with glasses)
Noisey: Hey Robert and Sam. I want to know what you love and hate about K Rd?
Robert: I love the diversity. Honestly, I don't really hate much stuff.
Sam: You've got to hate all the chewing gum on the ground. That's about it.

What about the recent changes, is it heading towards gentrification or will it retain it's character?
Robert: It's going to change. In five years it will be the commercialised alternative.

What about the music tonight?
Robert: We just saw Yoko-Zuna. They were legit as fuck.
Sam: The drummer from Yoko-Zuna, oh my God. The drummer was so good man. He knows what he's up to.
There's no toilet venues. That's something you need to improve on. We're going to ENO x DIRTY.
Robert: At Las Vegas. Haven't been there since it was a strip club.