Askew One

“..the penny dropped for me that food is seen as this really benign and irrelevant thing, but it’s actually everything. And it pertains to every aspect of life on this planet. The environment, politics, trade and economics, health and wellbeing, preservation of culture; food is pretty much the single most important issue.”

Stone Soup contributor Aaron McLean recently had the pleasure of breaking bread with ASKEW ONE over a bowl of Thai vegetarian noodle soup at Mercury Plaza off Karangahape Road in Auckland; to talk about street art, public space, Auckland train lines, his love for the Pacific and an epiphany about food. Here’s what he said.

SSS_ You seem unfathomably prolific. How many walls do you reckon you’ve painted?

I don’t know. The large format thing is pretty recent. Four or five years ago a two story wall seemed like a pretty big deal to me and I was looking around at that scale of wall going oohh.. that’d be quite nice, because that was a big step up from what I was doing, stuff you could do with minimal equipment and minimal permission, you were pretty much at the mercy of what you could achieve with your feet standing on the ground, or on a ladder. Once my ambition was to work at scale, I became more at the mercy of having to have conversations with landlords.

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SSS_ Is that a positive? Obviously it must be fun sneaking around at night, but it must be quite nice coercing a landlord into letting you have their wall as well.

I like the change in dynamic of what the experience of painting is like for me today. Painting was not just that I snuck around and painted at night so people didn’t get to see me or approach me and talk to me but also, I gave little care to the community who would have to really see it, who are going to engage with it on the daily. It was very insular, it was a conversation between me and other graffiti people, it wasn’t a conversation between me and the community. As I’ve become more community minded I’ve really started to enjoy going somewhere new, engaging with actual locals; if it’s a portrait based work, allowing somebody local to reveal themselves to me, so that I’m not contriving or coming in and putting something there that’s not representational, or something that they’re not proud of or don’t understand. I’m painting more for the people.

Also, the paranoia involved with graffiti sort of meant that there were always certain tensions to be mindful of. Like, not giving too much away, not showing your face, being careful about how you phrase things, what you put on the internet, you couldn’t really go all out. That’s why I say graffiti’s not a career, it’s a lifestyle. But it’s not a lifestyle that’s really conducive with a) being community minded or b) trying to support yourself.

SSS_ Which are both things you seem to have evolved into.

Yeah, the big catalyst for me was really just when I got unwell, everything kinda changed then because I just became immediately aware of my own mortality and became more aware of the sacrifices other people had made for me to be able to do what I do, i.e. my girlfriend Olivia – who I’ve been with for almost fourteen years now, who left her field of organic chemistry to put a lot of time and energy into shaping up my career and allowing me to do what I do full time. Because I used to always hold down other work, I worked as a graphic designer and a video director, I used to make music videos as well.

But I don’t get to be too strategic about it either, mostly these scenarios are out of my control. There’s one or two love projects that I take on at a time, things that are self initiated and I’m trying to get off the ground. This year it was the PGP show. Olivia curated the show but it was a big thing for me, I was just there to be involved and help direct everybody creatively.

SSS_ PGP being Post Graffiti Pacific? Is that broader than TMD? (TMD is a world renowned graffiti crew from Auckland, New Zealand)

Yeah, we had our first really major group exhibition as a group of Post Graffiti Pacific artists. It’s different to TMD. Honestly, the first people to really wave the PGP flag are all members of TMD but it’s not inclusive of everyone from TMD, because not everyone in TMD is making studio work, or some people are making studio work and still trying to find out what they’re doing. Transitioning out of graffiti in it’s purest form is quite hard, you forget how to draw everything else (laughs), you really do. I still like painting a bit of graffiti socially, but I kind of feel like the initial purpose for me of putting my name up around my area and other areas and walking around with my group of friends who all did graffiti has been lost. We all literally met on the train tracks of Auckland. Sunday’s trains didn’t run, so the tracks were just full of kids who would pop out of every building, just painting pieces. The whole Auckland graffiti scene – this is pre internet – was really connected, via the train line. That was our internet at that time you know. I met Benjamin Work under Dominion Rd on a railway bridge, me and Phatone really kind of solidified our friendship hanging out at Glen Eden station one day. We all met on the train tracks, that’s how I met all of TMD.

SSS_ You’re renowned as a Graffiti writer and muralist, and you’ve started a series about food which is the discussion that you and I became acquainted over; so what set you down the path of painting Fruit & Veg?

A few things. Spending a lot more time within the Pacific region and getting to understand the fragility of these kind of food systems. The fragility of the environment, and what’s at risk. Seeing how fragile Western style economic systems are in this region. The price of cultural autonomy and independence is how that’s played out, particularly in places like Samoa which has been independent since ‘62. Because prior to that, when there were German or New Zealand interests in there, they had thriving industries in areas like cocoa and coconut products and bananas. They were bringing in a lot of money for the time, I mean cocoa used to account for something like US $14 million per annum, and it currently accounts for $25 thousand. But just today, we were at Huckleberry Farms and there was a lady there who was representing her family cocoa farm, making really fine chocolate… coming out of Samoa. Part of the ‘Women in Business’ (womeninbusiness.ws) initiative that’s taken off there. The big thing that’s really popping off in Samoa right now – and they’re leading the charge for the whole Pacific – is women led, small enterprises, exporting within the region to some of the bigger economies like Australia and New Zealand. But using that as a mechanism to reconnect with culture, the environment, traditional farming methods, language; there are a lot of benefits to it. The women in business initiative actually started as an anti domestic violence initiative, it’s amazing. That’s actually the reason in my non-food based work – in my portraiture – I’ve chosen to paint exclusively women and mostly women of the Pacific. Because to me, they’re our leaders, that’s where we have to look for leadership right now, that’s my personal feeling after spending time in Samoa in Olivia’s family village.

Anyway, I went to this big show in the GOMA – the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane – called ‘Harvest’, which was centered around the ideas of food and it’s importance in society, and then the penny dropped for me that food is seen as this really benign and irrelevant thing, but it’s actually everything. And it pertains to every aspect of life on this planet. The environment, politics, trade and economics, health and wellbeing, preservation of culture, food is pretty much the single most important issue – and you’ve spoken about it a lot and it’s right – this idea of false scarcity has just become a notion of absolute selfishness. And I really resent that and I think that food is something that could be free and communal, much more part of everybody’s day and life. It should be a big sharing and community building tool. But the knowledge has been lost. We’re the only animal that’s disconnected from it’s food, you know what I mean? Every other animal knows what it needs to eat and where it needs to get it from. And we’ve lost the ability to work that out for ourselves. We don’t even know how to do the planting thing; from getting your seeds, preparing your soil, planting your seeds and growing your food, to cooking. People have forgotten how to do all of that. I think that ultimately, anything that anybody can do to put that conversation at the forefront, is a positive move.

That’s why I really loved Robert Oliver’s show Real Pacific, and the Me’a Kai book. Two seasons. Amazing! You can watch it online (http://tvnz.co.nz/real-pasifik/index-group-5530261). It was immensely powerful. I mean the big question is, how do we live here in the Pacific at the epicentre of the Pacific world and not see Pacific food celebrated and on the menu and accessible. By and large it’s really home food and soul food and that’s a wonderful thing but you know, people – even tourists coming here – should be able to see that represented. We have small Greek and Italian and Middle Eastern populations and a lot of South-East Asian cultures here, so it makes total sense that those foods are represented, but the biggest population is Polynesian and we don’t see that represented at all. To me that’s one of the big tragedies, it’s immensely healthy food in it’s proper traditional form, it’s rich in seafood for protein, dynamic greens like taro leaves, complex carbohydrates like taro root, and you’ve got coconut that’s used in so many different permutations and it’s like one of the fuckin healthiest foods out there, and all of those tropical fruits. It’s basically the perfect diet. I love Palusami, it’s a Samoan delicacy made of young taro leaves, fresh coconut cream, onion, salt and pepper, wrapped in the older taro leaves then cooked in the Umu. And the Niuean dish Takihi, taro root and paw paw thinly sliced and layered with coconut cream and cooked slowly, simple and beautiful.

SSS_ Do you think the urban and guerilla gardening movements and graffiti share something in common, in regards to a vision about and engagement in public space?

Yeah, except at the moment I see more pros to guerilla gardening than I do to graffiti, in this day and age. Graffiti at it’s best is done by young people who feel a voicelessness, a sense of frustration, a lack of identity. And actually there are a lot of mechanisms through which we can completely bypass all of that kind of phenomenon now. And kids are… kinda different you know. Their attempt at doing graffiti is completely different. It’s more of an homage to what it was, that’s my frustration with it, I don’t really see much happening locally at all that engages me. I hate to be negative, but you know I just feel like I’ve seen it all. Guerilla gardening as a movement seems like a much more profound and a much better way to rebel I think. I remember being so frustrated when I would see them plant native plants and trees along the motorway to deter us from doing graffiti, whereas now I’m actually glad the city spent money on that, like, I’m thankful. I would way rather see plants all up and down the motorway because what motorway in the world do you drive along and it’s green? So maybe that’s just a bit of maturing on my behalf.

SSS_ I guess what interests me is the reclaiming of public space, which is what you’re doing when you paint a wall and what you’re doing when you plant a verge.

Well I also think; secondary to that, that there should be less stigma about eating from public space. Councils never plant or maintain edibles in public spaces, but edibles should be in every park in my opinion. And also people that have fruit trees in their garden and don’t utilize any of the proceeds and don’t even think to engage with locals and invite them to partake in eating some of that. There’s a garden… I told them the other day that their gardens mean, it’s like a utopia, it’s the most beautiful garden in Onehunga. They have limes, lemons, mandarins and oranges, and the trees are taller than their house they’ve been there for so long. I never see them picking or using their fruit, and to me, they should allow the kids from across the road to have access to that fruit if they’re not going to eat it. It blows my mind. Once again, it’s just that idea, we have such a fear of infringing on people’s ownership. That was a big cool thing about graffiti, the way that it really challenges and questions that, and the one area of solace that I got from graffiti – and that it was still ok to be doing it – was making a statement about people really caring more about things than people. Particularly after Pihema Cameron got stabbed, the 15 year old kid out in Manurewa, Bruce Emery was the name of the guy who did it. They constantly framed it as the tagger and the businessman. He chased the kid four blocks down a dead end street and stabbed him straight in the heart with a fishing knife, one stab, dead. He wasn’t big, he was a tiny little kid, tiny. They painted such a negative picture of him, he was out of school, smoking dope and drinking vodka… just like every fuckin 15 year old I know was doing, you know, smoking some weed and drinking some vodka in the park with ya boys and go do a few tags. They didn’t shine much light until after the trial that he was caring for his tetraplegic father, that his mother had to take him out of school to be a full-time caregiver for his dad, so that she could move to Australia and try and seek out work to relocate the entire family. Then the Helen Clark government made all these really knee jerk changes to graffiti policy as a reaction to it. They increased the penalties, allowed the police more rights, more or less reversed the burden of proof, so the cops could pretty much just come in and take all your shit. So, I was angry about that, I just felt like it wasn’t the issue. It wasn’t the issue at all. But that was a big turning point for me, that’s pretty much what changed all my thinking about everything. I got so immensely angry about it, I’d never been angry about anything locally like I’d been angry about that, I started feeling really resentful about a society that just cares so much about things. Of course reading the comments section on any news website is always a bad idea if you don’t want to get enraged, the narrow minded bigoted attitudes that are out there, but a lot of people were calling him a hero, talking about chopping kids hands off. Really? If it was your fifteen year old kid would you advocate for that? No you wouldn’t.

SSS_ Detroit – where you’ve been recently and a number of times before – has been going through some tough times, but there seems to be a DIY grassroots bubbling up. Urban Farming is a part of this re-empowerment. Did you see any of it while you were there?

Oh yeah, I mean, Detroit has only got about the population of Hamilton, in a city that used to have the population of Auckland, and the abandoned space in Detroit is equivalent – if you put it all together – to San Francisco. How people, artists, idealistic entrepreneurs, community minded human beings, just everybody; the way they’ve utilized this abundance of space is one of the most powerful things I’ve seen in my life. It’s crazy. I went to Detroit the first time, shortly after that Pihema Cameron stabbing. I was so enraged by that and then I went there and my first impression was, well this is post apocalyptic. It was the dead of winter, it was really bleak, but the little piece of optimism that I saw that blew me away was buildings and footpaths and seemingly indestructible pieces of infrastructure just having a tree grow through the side of them, or where grass had completely grown through all the cracks in the cement. Shortly after, I went again in summer, six months later, and there were bees everywhere, you see how the bees come back. To me the most optimistic thing was seeing all of this urban stuff just completely eroded, finding out how quickly that actually occurred.

SSS_ It seems in places like Detroit and Greece and Spain, where both Capital and the State have abandoned communities, that’s where some of the most interesting re-empowerment is happening.

It’s always where the most interesting stuff happens. For starters, Detroit has very cheap rent, very cheap real estate, it has a very tight knit community because it’s small – we’re talking about 690,000 people – and it’s amazing. It’s a very very connected society, there’s a lot of pride, it has the oldest farmer’s market in America, Eastern Market. It had a huge local farming culture before any of this anyway, so that’s been natural, and the market has always been an outlet for it. Saturday morning at Eastern Market there’s two and a half three thousand people there. Detroit has always had an incredible DIY culture, hence why you see so much innovation in arts and music. Techno came from Detroit and Chicago, specifically Ghettotech and early House. If you go to a techno club in Detroit and you look at the audience and who’s attending that show, how they carry themselves, how they dress and how they dance.. you’ll see a lot of artists and creative types, even a lot of weird rock kids, but mostly you see a lot of older black people, very very well dressed. You’ll see the long dress coats and Fedora hats and a lot of style, a lot of flavour, and a lot of great manners, especially compared to the kinda meathead white crowds at dance parties I’ve attended here in NZ or the cliched image of Ibiza. That’s the innovation that’s occurred from being detached from your ancestry. That’s the one silver lining that I think black people have in America, is that they’ve been so resilient and so innovative, creatively speaking, and made everything that’s popular.

Cross pollination is the beautiful thing. That’s what made graffiti really cool here (in New Zealand) in the 80’s and 90’s when it was very naive, and it was cross pollinated with a lot of that Pacific influence. But really inadvertently, and we didn’t even know or recognise how cool it was at the time, we turned our back on it, we painted more like American and European artists. And then you reach a point where you realise that that’s so ridiculous to just paint a consistent homage to something that was done 30 years ago under a certain set of circumstances. And that you should be reacting to your own circumstances and your own influences. That’s another reason why we’re making the kind of work that we make now. Me, Gary Silipa, Benjamin Work; that’s why we make the type of painting we make today (Post Graffiti Pacific). Because it’s like we feel we’ve transcended graffiti. We’ve found that we’ve only just reached the point where we’re comfortable to really wave the flag for the Pacific, to say that this is a very dynamic and important region. And speaking of cross pollination, there’s been a lot of cross pollination between Australia, New Zealand, and America that was due to the Samoan and Tongan populations migrating for work and bringing bits of information back. Their economic situation has really driven all of that weird hybridised creative influence that we have in heaps of ways, like Mormon kids who got sent off to do their mission in California or Utah and would come home with photos of gang graffiti and N.W.A tapes and Starter jackets. That’s how that conversation took place before the internet. People have laughed at the notion that so much has traveled through Samoa and how important Samoa is in relation to a lot of that influence, but it’s vitally important. It’s been pivotal. Samoan people really have driven a lot of it.

SSS_ Back to the food murals that you’re painting – and I know it’s only a part of what you’re doing – is there a specific audience in mind for them? Are you putting them in specific communities, are you painting them for the people who are food insecure see?

I’m at the very very start of what I’m planning to do and I plan to do all of those things, but I haven’t come close. I think it’s because the next hurdle for me to work out, is how to go beyond painting a wall. Painting a wall, to me, seems almost – it’s so funny – it’s become almost frivolous, in this conversation. I would much rather create an entire environment in which food becomes a much more integral part of it, gardening and cooking and community building, in spaces. And art is one part of it, but it’s just one part. I haven’t worked out all the mechanics of what I’m going to do yet but I know that it needs to go beyond being two dimensional. I think planting is like “wow cool”, but unless there’s an incentive for people to revisit and really inhabit that space, and feel ownership of that space, it becomes completely redundant and will be unmaintained. People need to feel a sense of – ownership is the wrong word – perhaps pride and enjoyment and enrichment. I don’t know, people need to want and feel compelled to contribute to it. You know what I mean?! And making that happen is quite hard. But some people internationally are doing it… I’m looking at how they’re doing things, someone like Ron Finley (@RonFinleyHQ) he’s definitely doing it, but just one part of it. Then I look at the artist Swoon, she’s doing so much in rejuvenating spaces. She just renovated an old church and community space, laid down a whole bunch of gardens, she also did a lot in Haiti for the rebuild. As an artist that’s really using your platform, to bring people together, to make actual tangible change, versus just talking about the change.

I walk that fine line man. I have a lot of strings and although I don’t have children, I still have a lot of responsibilities. I have a massive investment in my group of fellow artists. Olivia and I are really focused on elevating everybody to a level where they can all have a platform to do this and be powerful at it, really convey a message, get it across and make the work they want to make and be stable. We’re not searching for wealth – in that sense – I have no aspiration to be a blue chip artist. So, there are a few ways I could do it. I could be completely transient which would mean shutting down my studio and just following opportunity to go into spaces and work and just going with the flow. I know a few artists who are doing that and it works quite well. It doesn’t work so well when you’ve got a pet dog and a girlfriend.

SSS_ So does that mean the opportunity for it is in Auckland?

I believe it is, but it’s also in the whole Pacific region, particularly the Polynesian triangle. We could base ourselves in Samoa, Livi is eligible for a Samoan passport, but I’d rather do it in places where people are more disconnected from it I think. In New Zealand and in Australian our Pacific populations are more at risk of becoming completely disconnected from any sense of true tradition – pre-missionary tradition – and especially around food and community building and all of this stuff. Samoa is very connected to what Samoa is because of the Matai system. They have their own governance, their government and police force are there by proxy, they’re not real, it’s just symbolism in order to play ball with your colonisers. Samoans have always been good at playing ball on the surface but really doing things the Samoan way. That’s why the tattooing traditions remain when a lot of other cultures lost that. Samoa never did, they kept it alive the whole time. That’s a really proud, proud place. No, I feel more strongly about doing it here. Hamish Keith said something really interesting to me, he said it in passing, but man, it’s the one thing he said to me I’ve never forgotten. I was really weighing up moving to LA because I knew that the opportunity that would come to me as an individual artist to sell paintings and exhibit and be seen would be better, but he was like, well you could go that route, but if every single person who’s contributing something to the scene gets frustrated and leaves, every subsequent person that comes up is building from scratch all over again and there’s no foundation. So I guess now I’m a little bit less concerned with the idea of my legacy as an individual and what I build and see to fruition and more content knowing that I’m just part of a continuation, being able to hand something on to somebody else. And it’s a much better way to look at everything, it’s a lot less pressure. You can just relax into a state of being and doing and not worrying about getting to this end goal.

SSS_ I imagine dedicating your time to a medium that often has you working covertly or begging permission, it’s been tough creating a livable income from graffiti. Has that influenced and affected your food options and the way you feel about other people’s access to food?

Yes, 100%. When I first had an attempt at being a full time artist I was quite young. I came out of Metro, went to AUT for one year, didn’t graduate but learnt enough skills to do some freelance web design and graphic design for a lot of people in the hip hop scene and started organising a festival which actually became part of Aotearoa Hip Hop Festival, I got really busy with that.

But the truth of the matter was that I was living in St Kevin’s Arcade, I was paying $75 a week rent, which was pretty cheap, but I had no kitchen, no refrigerator, no toilet, no bathroom, I had an electric frypan. After rent I was lucky to have $25 a week. My mum was a flower wholesaler. Back then she sold flowers all around the country and on Sundays I used to not sleep. I was right above Calibre and there would be drum & bass playing and the whole place would be shaking, go to work at 4.30am, pack boxes of flowers to send to people and at the end of the day I would pack up all the boxes of flowers that weren’t fresh enough to sell to florists and take them to Alleluya and Brazil. They would do the flowers on their tables and I used to get a free breakfast at Brazil and coffee all week and coffee all week at Alleluya. And Peter – from Alleluya – used to do a roast dinner on Friday night and I used to have to sit down – it was compulsory – and eat a proper cooked meal, because he said I looked so famished back in those days and he knew I wouldn’t eat. I guess I was 100% dedicated as a graffiti writer at that time and living the life. I used to steal a little bit, I used to get by, I thought there was nobility in that and that I could live that way forever. Over time, actually it starts to wear you down. Then I got a girlfriend, who even as a student on her scholarship doing her Phd, was making more money weekly than I was able to bring in and was keeping me afloat. So, my choice to do this has greatly affected my ability to eat. I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot for free, that’s been really cool and there’s been a lot of gratuity. There have been a lot of people who have been very generous to me along the way and I’ve been very fortunate with that, but at some point you realize you’ve got to make it count. I don’t want much, I just want sustainability. I want to grow what I can in my garden, I want to eat well locally and I don’t want to burden anybody. And that’s it. And that’s kind of been my journey with food and finance. A lot of people really celebrate struggle, a lot of people put themselves in that situation, but I can never understand that. I’ve travelled a lot and I’ve painted a lot of paintings in poor places and I see the lack of access to what I would even consider food in the majority of poor places.

SSS_ Was that part of the epiphany?

Big time…

hang on a sec…

[ASKEW having been observing a young woman sitting behind us, who previously asked for the scraps in my bowl in an attempt to fill her hungry tummy gets up to go and buy a hot freshly cooked meal for somebody who clearly needed a helping hand.]

…sorry, what was I sayin’?

SSS_ Well, going and feeding someone was the perfect answer to the question.

It’s tough man, I’m seeing a lot of people struggling in this town, more and more. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so tough for so many people.

SSS_ You touched on growing your own food, do you guys do that?

Yeah, we had a really successful year two years ago. It’s funny, you do start to respect people who are dependent on growing their own food, what they go through, or farmers who are dependent on that for their income, and man this year was a shitter. Mainly because this big rat moved into my backyard, it was easy food. This rat – we call him Ratty – I’ve had a real battle with Ratty this year, because I don’t want to kill Ratty, but Ratty’s like, really getting me close to it. He even ate every chilli. I thought rats didn’t eat chillis, every chilli, every tomato, four entire kale. I’m trying to work out now how to make a rat proof structure around the garden because I need to plant everything next weekend because I’m out the following weekend for a while.

But the cool thing, I was given a lime tree about four years ago and a lemon tree about six years ago, they fruited this year for the first time and they were amazing. All season I was using my own limes, which was just fuckin awesome, they were so juicy and so nice. My lemons are amazing, I was just so stoked. So that was really cool. Can’t wait to actually put them into the ground, they’re in really big terracotta pots, I live in a warehouse. Waiting until we have a place of our own I guess, to put those down. I’ve found the easiest things for me to grow is a variety of tomatoes, lettuces, kale, zucchini – which is awesome because then you also get the zucchini flowers – eggplant which is super easy to grow, a couple of varieties of chillies, in soil that I’ve bought in and try to maintain, the container thing is what I’m doing. There’s a few opportunities for community gardening in my area. There’s a lot of KiwiRail land that isn’t being used It got bought up in the 50’s to put a train line between the Western line and the Onehunga line, which they never built, where the South-Western motorway is, so all of that vacant land along there, I think, should be gardens. There is one group who tried to orchestrate some community gardening in our area, but I didn’t have a lot of faith in the way they were trying to roll it out. My contention with it was that they’re trying to do everything with a blessing. I think… bypass that and do it, it’s much easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

We got to get some good food happening in the hood. Looking at Ron Finley’s approach, I think that the areas that people really have to reconnect with this is around Panmure, Glen Innes, Otara… areas like that. I spent a weekend in Otara painting a mural last weekend and I saw kids with 1.5lt bottles of Mountain Dew and they were like three. People eating non food. Not drinking water. Just basics. It’s all very desireable and there’s lots of cultural stuff around going to the corner shops to hang out with other kids. How do you shift that thinking out there? It’s one thing to have organic supermarkets in Ponsonby, it’s another thing to have it in Otara. Living in Onehunga, I have to leave my area to shop because my one supermarket has narrowed all of it’s healthy choices and it’s fruit and vegetable options. It’s smaller and smaller and smaller because the market drives what they put on the shelves, they don’t want any wastage. All of the vegetarian and vegan options have been taken away. For me to go and look for an alternative protein source, they’ve got one brand of tofu and one brand of vege dogs – I don’t even like vege dogs – so I don’t go there. But you see them just narrowing. Even alcohol choices, the Onehunga Countdown used to have decent locally produced beer, and now they’ve narrowed it down to four or five choices of mass-produced beer. It’s crazy how they take everything nice and good away from the hood because it’s not popular or it’s not the cheapest. How do we get this good stuff cheap? That’s the question.

SSS_ You talk about the hollowing out of shopping choices in the hood, but have you got an Onehunga gem where your studio is based that we should know about?

I like eating at Chang Gaow which is a Thai joint. It’s just down by the roundabout near the train station. I love them, they’re real sweet people, they’re really cheap, foodcourt prices, they were in Metro’s Top 50 cheap eats or whatever. They feed the monks for free on Monday, they put a big banquet table in there. They’re really cool. That’s been a really cool spot for us.

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