A friend of mine who used to live in Auckland remembers Parnell – if a neighbourhood were a person – as a sophisticated woman in her 50s who attends fine art gallery openings, sends her kids to Kings or St Cuthberts, and vacations each year in the south of France. Let’s call her Maude.
I think it’s safe to say Maude is still alive and well in Parnell. She’s reading the New Zealand Herald at a corner cafe while waiting for her friends from the dramaturgical society. But a few tables over are Kevin and Terry, 40-something silver foxes with cashmere sweaters who are discussing which fintech startups to invest in. And across the street at an altogether cooler cafe started by Rasheed (who already has two gastro-pubs in Ponsonby and an artisanal bakehouse at Britomart but wants to start something uniquely chic and authentically Parnell), there is a line outside where Steph, Nic and Alycia are waiting to have their weekly brunch catchup. Nic has been promoted to team leader at the bank this week and Steph is telling the others about her recent work trip to Queenstown. They shuffle to one side to make room for Trish who is wielding two poodles and a newfoundland (she does dog walking while doing her masters) and Bev and Gary who go jogging together each weekend while their wives do barre body. On weeknights the concept bars are full of folk who lean in explain over the jazztronica about their cousins who know Heston Blumenthal, and on weekends families and couples turn up for a change of scene, to look around the local shops or to stroll around the nearby parklands.
Or at least, these are my first impressions after a week living in Parnell.