Jeremy Hansen loves this city, and Tāmaki Makaurau adores him right back. The project manager for central Auckland’s Britomart precinct is a beloved figure in design and media circles, known for his passion for urbanism and culture, and for uplifting local creative talent.
The journalist and former editor of Home and Paperboy magazines is now a host of an architecture podcast 76 Small Rooms, and in the past has co-written wonderful books Villa: From Heritage to Contemporary and Modern: New Zealand Homes from 1939 to 1977. He’s also incredibly nice and looks very good in a navy blazer; if it’s not obvious, we’re big fans!
Jeremy lives with husband Cameron in an apartment in the beloved Star Block flats in Freemans Bay, where they have lived for almost seven years.
“The Star Flats are part of a whole block of Freemans Bay that was developed as council housing from the 1960s, a mix of nine three-storey apartment blocks and groups of terrace houses that share the really nice grounds around them,” he explains.
“Everything is light and warm and well-designed and well-built. It’s a great medium-density model that I wish was more prevalent all over the city; it also contains a proportion of social housing units, which I wish other developments would also do as a matter of course.”
As well as its obvious design merits, Jeremy loves the proximity to work (he and Cameron both walk, and so have been able to get rid of their car) and other thriving central neighbourhoods.
“Downtown, Wynyard Quarter, Westhaven, Karangahape Road and Ponsonby Road are all an easy stroll away, and not driving feels like it removes a whole layer of stress from our daily lives.”
Favourite place for a drink (and what is that drink)?
It’s a tie between a martini at Caretaker and a pisco sour at Madame George. Caretaker is an absolutely perfect dimly lit hideaway, and Pablo at Madame George is one of those gifted hospo pros who is able to make everyone feel welcome and that the night is worth celebrating.
Best place for breakfast (and what is it)?
I really like kingi for breakfast. I work at Britomart so am a bit spoiled for choice, but chef Tom Hishon’s mushroom bolognese (or the oat hotcakes) lure me in on the regular. Sitting in that beautiful restored warehouse, or beside the fire on a cool morning, is an excellent way to start the day.
Where do you get your morning coffee - and what’s your coffee order?
It’s usually an oat milk flat white at Amano. I always have it there rather than getting a takeout – it saves wasting a takeout cup, and that space is always so calming to hang out in.
The restaurant you’ve been going to for years?
The Engine Room in Northcote Point is a favourite that we’ve been going to for birthdays or general pick-me-ups for over a decade. [Owners] Carl and Natalia are brilliant hosts, and catching the bus over the bridge after work makes it feel like a little getaway.
Favourite restaurant to visit with friends?
I love going to Ghost Street, which is such a delicious little basement secret. My architect friend Dajiang Tai did such a great job of creating a relaxed, atmospheric room, which the Sichuan food matches perfectly.
For something fancy?
I think Michael Meredith’s Mr Morris is extraordinary. It strikes such a good balance between informality and food that is superlative without being fussy. Plus, the interior is beautiful and the staff are brilliant.
Best ‘cheap eat’?
Sri Pinang on Karangahape Road does such good Malaysian food that we’re there on the regular. The bonus is it’s just up the hill from our place. The main challenge is to avoid ordering our same favourite dishes every time, but Angie the owner is good at intervening and insisting we try something new if our choices are getting too repetitive.
Brunch on a Sunday: where would we find you?
Favourite place for date night?
Alma not only has fantastic, interesting food, but those great little tables for two where you sit side by side and look out onto the street, which for some reason feels kinda novel and low-key. It’s great to sit and chat and just watch the activity on the street outside.
Where do you go for ‘special’, non-supermarket food or drink?
When it comes to booze, I usually order it in from my friends who run By the Bottle. I like wine but don’t know that much about it, and their offering always introduces me to new vineyards and varietals that I haven’t heard of. Plus they can deliver within hours.
Favourite gallery or museum?
We’re lucky in that we live down the hill from Karangahape Road and its excellent galleries. My two favourites up there are Tautai, for the way it showcases contemporary Pacific art, and Michael Lett, where there’s always something brain-expanding to check out. If we’re in luck, Archie the dog is there for a pat too.
Best kept shopping secret?
It’s not really a secret but it is quite new: I love visiting Yoko Shimoyama’s Wonder Journal at Britomart, where she mixes hand-made ceramics with books, Japanese incense, clothes and more, all of it impeccably restrained and beautiful.
Favourite clothing store that never lets you down?
There’s always plenty to tempt me at Fabric, and Marty is great at pushing me outside my navy blue comfort zone.
Where do you go for a workout?
I don’t belong to a gym, but Cameron and I run most mornings around the water’s edge in Westhaven, and then attempt a few pathetic press ups in Western Park afterwards.
If someone was visiting your neighbourhood/city for the first time, what’s the one place you would recommend they visit?
I think lots of people know about Auckland’s beaches and beautiful landscapes, but not so many of them realise that the city is a vibrant urban destination as well, with a great relationship with the water and a rapidly evolving belief in its own potential and sense of identity.
There are a lot of problems that we need to work on – hello, housing crisis – but overall, Auckland’s at an exciting time in its history and I feel lucky to live here.