Our first week in the city…


We moved into our new urban apartment- in Ockham’s Isaac Newton project in Grey Lynn on Saturday 10 March. We feel very lucky to be here.

The environment is exciting and stimulating;  The apartment is white, crisp, modern and lovely- our challenges include remembering how to use our “swipe keys” for entrances and exits, and learning to drive more up-to-date appliances than we’ve had before- all good Fisher and Paykel and NZ-designed!

From our apartment, on the third floor  with a north-facing deck, we see the upper Waitemata harbour to the west;  the Sky Tower, sky scrapers,and cranes on the city skyline and even a glimpse of  Rangitoto to the west; and in the foreground we can watch the comings and goings of people and their dogs , some from apartments across the road,  others from the surrounding streets lined with old huge trees.. The fourth floor, directly above us, is a residents’ lounge, deck and grassed area with sweeping all-round views of Tamaki Makaurau and the sky in all its moods- a wonderful extra space for us all.

Our lovely friend, artist Nic Moon, joined us for two days to place our favourite art works in each room, so we feel quite at home already.

We also have a garden!  On our deck, Tanya has planted herbs, salad greens and flowers in six green pots, and some  of our lichen-clad terracotta women are dancing in a corner. 

In the evenings we’ve been reading the Maori history of this ridge, Te Rae o Kawharu , and the surrounding area.  We hope  to talk soon with some of our Ngaati Whatua and Waiohua contacts to learn more.

We watch the urban birdlife- magpies chortling on chimneys and church steeples or squabbling with  seagulls, and , of course, starlings and sparrows, pigeons and doves. From the rear bedroom we look down on palms and ferns on the levels below, and Owairaka (Mt Albert) over the rooftops.

Busy traffic in Surrey Crescent during the day slows down at night. Tanya (who has never lived in a central city area before) is finding the city noises challenging at present – no more open windows and curtains at night! Charmaine (who lived in Ponsonby for 7 years) manages to translate car noises into waves breaking on a beach, and slips into peaceful slumber quite quickly.

Our location is fantastic.  Five minutes to walk to the Grey Lynn shops (including  a well-stocked supermarket and a lovely library), ten minutes to West Lynn  with its organic shops and a dozen cafes. Half an hour  to the central city by foot and bus, and 10 minutes drive to the Town Hall for the Mahinarangi Tocker concert on Saturday night

Every Sunday there’s a Farmers’ Market in the Grey Lynn Community Centre, five minutes walk down Richmond Road from here, where we can stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, breads and cheeses, and all manner of artisan pastries and relishes.  And we’ll be able to do long walks (or bike rides) around our new fascinating neighbourhood with its many parks and historic areas to keep fit…

Wherever we go we have been welcomed (or welcomed back) to the city by lesbians we know.  And to those of you who worry that Tanya might find her 6 pots on the deck too limiting, St Columba Church (next door but one) has community gardens to which she has been taking our compostables, and from which she has been given fresh figs- and she’s already been offered an allotment as soon as one becomes available!

Our building is Newton, at 64 Surrey Crescent, the second of the two named for Isaac Newton, on the left if you are coming from the Grey Lynn shops. Both buildings have the same design – the interference pattern created when two wave systems meet, which Isaac Newton described and developed formulae  for. In this picture from across the road Charmaine is on our deck- on the top right-hand corner of the building.

Ockham Developments is a very innovative firm determined to build affordable, energy efficient, well connected urban homes which will enhance Auckland’s landscape.  Our block is five year old, and they have built several more in Auckland since.  Daisy, their most recently opened building, is the  first ever Homestar 10 rated apartment building in New Zealand.  See below for details. 





  1. Congratulations on making the move! It looks and sounds just wonderful. I’m sure to see you at the Grey Lynn market; meanwhile next week from Monday 26-Thursday 29 you can walk the labyrinth at St Matthew in the city. It’s a beautiful experience and the labyrinth is laid out in river stones, with little candles on them.
    Happy Equinox!

  2. Winnie Crombie says

    Very glad to hear that you’ve now settled in such a lively and interesting area and that you’re happy in your lovely, fresh and art-filled apartment. It sounds as though you also had a fun time while you were waiting to move in. Winnie

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your new abode and environment with us. It is a real joy to know your decision to move house again has been so successful. To know that these apartments are being designed and built and occupied is exciting news for us who only hear in the press that N.Z. is in the grip of a housing crisis.

    Thank you again for your most interesting and informative blog.It is a pleasure for me to be able to share your journey. Happy Easter Susana

    • Charmaine and Tanya says

      Kia ora Susana – thanks for your positive responses to our newsletters. Please remind us where you are living now, and what kind of work and projects are you involved in these days.We’ve lost track of your movements since Earthtalk days.Hope you are enjoying life at present.
      Arohanui, Tanya and Charmaine

  4. Arafelle Oné says

    Happy New Home Coming Charmaine and Tanya. It looks and sounds great. Goddess help with the traffic noise Tanya. Even with my limited hearing I think that would be one of my biggest challenges if I were to be in the city for long, that and the traffic generally. Love pots on terrace, communal roof space and the community garden close by. Really great that these type of apartments are being built and you were able to move into one in such a good position. If you ever need a taste of very rural and are up north do come and visit us at Earth Spirit. We have a nice cosy (i.e. tiny) newly renovated Herb House and The Caravan for visitors Love and hugs Arafelle

    • Charmaine and Tanya says

      Kia ora Arafelle – thanks for your good wishes and for your offer of quiet rural accommodation in your lovely corner of the world – we would love to explore Earth Spirit, one day.We are enjoying city life, particularly this central location, and bumping into lots of dykes around the place – and our pots and the allottment are flourishing! Take good care of yourself and enjoy the autumnal changes.
      Arohanui, Tanya

    • Charmaine and Tanya says

      thanks for your comments and invitation, Arafelle- hope to see you sometime this year!


    It is great !! to learn your life journey!!!!
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventure.

    I really respect your young lighthearted mind.

    Takashi and I am enjoying every ordinary days ;
    snowboarding , Takashi’s main job tofu making with mentally ill people,
    my lazy muffin shop (open only on Friday).

    We will follow our inner voices and pursuit joy just like you two.

    • Charmaine and Tanya says

      Kia ora Itsuko – thank you for your email – lovely to hear a little about your lives – glad you are following your inner voices…
      We are beginning to feel like city girls! and I have planted a small vege allottment at the next door community Church gardens, so I am still able to put my hands in Mother Earth! Do you two do any gardening these days?
      It is possible that Charmaine and I may come to Japan next year(June-July) on our way to Europe, so who knows it may be possible to see you and Takashi – our recent ex wwoofer friends Alex Kishi(a Doctor) and her partner, Tomoko(nurse) who live and work in Kyoto are keen for us to visit. So we’re thinking about it? Anyway, we’ll see how things develop.

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