Heritage: On the Road Migrant History

ON THE ROAD - K’ RD

On the Road is the living story of arguably New Zealand’s most high profile road.

Where K’ Road differs from any other road is in the mix of personalities who live on, work on and visit the Road. Together with its history, environs and landmarks, these pages capture the spirit of K Road.

Written by Kevin Kearns who was the council street cleaner there for nine years. Known as “King of the Road” this is is ‘fly on the wall’ account of the ‘street that never sleeps’.

A paperback of over 200 pages with photos and illustrations Text Kevin Kearns Photos Greg Webb K’ Road art by Stephanie Fitzgerald Published 1996 by Kevin Kearns

“Whilst K Road has altered considerably in the decade since this book was published - with the development of apartments and influx of residents spurring the flush of cafes and contemporary art galleries - it is a great record of K Road’s seedy heyday and a good dose of even earlier history”. B Holloway

THE BOOK can only now be found secondhand Kevin Kearns has sadly passed away

A MIGRANT HISTORY

The Lim Chhour Family’s Long Journey to Karangahape Road

Lim Chhour Supermarket & Foodhall K’ Road: Lim-Cheng Chhour with sister and property manager Lim-Muy.

From the ravages of war-torn Cambodia, to the hardship of life in a refugee camp, Lim–Nam Chhour and his family have seen it all. And the experience, says daughter Lim-Muy, who was born in neighbouring Vietnam when the family fled there, has brought members closer together.

‘Because we came from such a hard background we knew we had to pull together to make enough to survive.’And survive they have – beyond the imaginings of most ordinary New Zealanders.

From humble beginnings here as an immigrant factory worker, former mechanic Lim-Nam, with the support of his late wife, son and three daughters, went on to build a chain of Asian fruit and vegetable stores throughout Auckland which have made the Lim Chhour name a familiar one in most households.

His business ventures began with the purchase of a dairy in Aucklands Birkenhead, made possible through the generosity of two New Zealand families who sponsored the Chhours in this country. It continued with the purchase of a Hobsonville farm, following the sale of the dairy, which came with a small fruit and vegetable shop out front. And it snowballed when Lim-Nam discovered he had a knack for anticipating Auckland’s produce market.

“Being able to know where to open a shop and what sort of produce would suit a particular community” has been a talent of his, says Lim-Muy.

Lim Chhour fruit and vegetable stores, later with the addition of grocery shops, would soon spring up in Remuera, Otahuhu, Glen Innes, Mt Albert, Parnell, Henderson and lastly Karangahape Rd, teaching Lim-Nam a few lessons about business along the way. A surprise rent hike at the Remuera Rd premises made the business unviable prompting him to move on and suffer a loss as a consequence.

“Although it was hard at the time, he now feels the experience helped shaped him into a better business person,” says Lim-Muy. “He discovered the value of owning the property he operates from.”

But a lesson he’s always understood instinctively was that his success depended on the family working together. “Without my father, without my mother or without any single one of us, we wouldn’t be able to be where we are,” says Lim-Muy.

Today, the Lim Chhour-owned enterprise is restricted to stores in Mt Albert, Otahuhu and Karangahape Rd and Lim-Nam now enjoys semi-retirement. But the opportunity he offered Aucklanders to experience a taste of the colourful world of Asian cooking and its accompanying exotic commodities continues.

Delicacies such as Taiwan Bok Choy (a silverbeet-like vegetable), white chocolate green tea wafers and garlic flavoured peanuts still abound at Lim Chhour Supermarket K’ Road along with low cost everyday household items, courtesy of the next generation of Chhour family members.

Lim-Nam, meanwhile, has time to carry on his work of offering support to fellow refugees and people in need (a pastime which earned him a New Zealand Order of Merit award in 2002) and gives thanks daily for the generosity of the people who helped him lift his family from the blight of poverty and starvation.

Lim Chhour Supermarket, 184 K’ Road, Newton. Open 7 days 9am-9pm