Morningside has long been a neighbourhood that was infamous.
Bro town - the brilliant cartoon series co-created by local Oscar Kightley - featured Morningside as its locale, it created the phrase “morningside for life” though the Morningside it portrayed wasn’t one that many people aspired to. As a result people put surrounding neighbourhoods on the bottom of their street address.
Morningside is surrounded by the suburbs Kingsland, Western Springs, Mt Albert, St Lukes, Sandringham and Balmoral. The reality is that in the city fringes of Auckland you can choose any one of your surrounding suburbs to put on your street address and the mail will still arrive in your letterbox. The reality is that almost no-one put Morningside on their address. It was like an abandoned suburb, everyone wanted to belong to a neighbouring one.
What we found when we moved into Morningside (we actually thought it was Kingsland at first) is that it has traditionally been a transient neighbourhood. So many people we speak to have lived in or around Morningside for a year or two when they were younger. It seemed like Morningside was a neighbourhood where people slept, but they 'lived' in other neighbourhoods. We decided we wanted to try and make Morningside a better place to live, not just a place to lay your head at night.
Many of the Collective happen to have youth work backgrounds and have engaged with community development of different types over the years. Normal neighbourhood development will take the path of engaging the residents of the neighbourhood, asking them what they think the neighbourhood needs and working together to make those things happen. When no one admits to living in the neighbourhood, it is more difficult. So what the collective did was just say, "Let's try and create the neighbourhood we think would be awesome and see if people get on board."
It is not a ground breaking idea to start a cafe as a way of engaging a community. Many people have done this before and we just followed in their footsteps.
We are super pumped when we hear stories of people that have changed neighbourhoods without moving residence. People who live in School Road and used to refer to Kingsland as their suburb, now say Morningside; people who live on Ethel St now claim Morningside instead of Sandringham. People who live on Taylors Rd and used to write St Lukes into their address, now put Morningside. Fantastic!
Morningside has always been a wonderfully diverse neighbourhood. It used to have streets full of halfway houses back when the government funded these well. Now, those have been transformed into affordable rentals. We have a good refugee community, a womens refuge space, We have industrial components, retail, hospitality, White picket fences, low rise apartments, terrace housing, the national stadium of NZ (Eden Park), a train station, NZ’s second biggest mall, the dosser, main bus routes. Morningside has always had more than its share of creatives, but there wasn’t anywhere for them to connect.
Street art has always been an identifying feature of Morningside and this has grown in the past decade, Owen Dippie’s “Creation of Adam” being a real feature of the neighbourhood - so many photos take place in the liminal space between the hands. Morningcider, a local cider company, uses murals from the walls as it the artwork for its can labels.
We have seen Morningside develop massively over the past decade. There are small signs that a neighbourhood is more liveable, things like people exercising, walking dogs, biking around.
A bunch of community initiatives have kicked off including:
We have seen a load of creative endeavours take place. Lorde recorded her debut album here, so did the Broods. As light industrial businesses have moved out they have primarily been replaced by creative businesses eg. Juliet Hogan, Strachan Group Architects, Maggie Marilyn, Diamond Creative, Gooseboards, The Creative Garden Office Space, The Dance Studio, Wild Poppies, Xanthe White Design, Vitrine.
Textiles have long been a feature of Morningside and in fact, our sister café Kind is built over what used to be one of Morningside's longest standing curtain manufacturers. Frost textiles have grown and made the neighbourhood more beautiful. HUSK are one of NZ’s leading creative agencies, specifically working with social good businesses and charities.
To our delight, the Morningside precinct opened in 2019, based on the recognition that the name Morningside had transitioned to something more desirable. We also opened KIND up there, alongside a bunch of other great hospitality businesses that have added to the neighbourhood: Miann Morningside, the Morningcidery, the Morningside Tavern, Bo’s Dumplings and Electric chicken. These all nestle around one of New Zealand's top venues the beautiful Glasshouse, which was created over an old carpark.
There has been a rise in entrepreneurial office space. News disruptors, the Spinoff, moved in along with Hex work, carpark disruptors ‘parkable’ moved in. Maloney Maloney and Sticky Beak are among others who have moved in creating buzz.
We have seen new businesses created and grow in the neighbourhood, Morningcider, Lil' Lato (recently voted best ice cream in NZ), Gooseboards, Commongood Coffee, Urbanaut, Cowabunga brewing, Diamond creative, Beerspot, Morningside drinkery to name a few. We see Morningside becoming the brewing hub of Auckland.
In terms of hospitality, when Crave first opened, there were a total of around 60 cafe seats in the neighbourhood. Now there are over 600 seats! Morningside also plays host to the best Japanese restaurant in the city, Sake Bar Icco.
There has been profound change in Morningside over the past decade. We are not responsible for most of it but are stoked to have played a part in pushing it forward. The collective has been a small crew of neighbours who have committed themselves to making Morningside a better place to live and we feel like progress is being made!