Character of K' Road – Olinda Woodroffe
Lawyer Olinda Woodroffe is a colourful and enduring character of K' Road. Her love affair with K' Road began in 1969, shortly after she migrated from Samoa and got a clerical job with Manchester Unity on K' Road. Over time she became a qualified lawyer, setting up practice in High St. However, when asked in 2003 to shift Woodroffe Lawyers to K' Road, Olinda didn't hesitate. The road gives her a sense of belonging, she says.
Who asked you to move Woodroffe Lawyers to K' Road and why?
It was a request from the late Reverend Leua Sio of the Newton Pacific Island Church who wanted better and easier to legal support for the Pacific elderly people of Auckland. He said all Pacific people in Auckland knew K' Road. He was right because it is easily accessed from the south, west and northern motorways and at that time was a primary shopping destination for Pacific people. So I moved Woodroffe Lawyers with my partner Colin Woodroffe to the corner of Cross St and Upper Queen St.
What was it like to come back to K' Road?
It brought back many memories. I spent a lot of time around K' Road. I studied at Auckland University, whilst still working at K' Road. I married in 1972, whilst still working at K' Road. My doctor - Doctor Donaldson – was on K' Road and K' Road has always remained my shopping area. I also have wonderful memories of my mother on K' Road. It was her favourite shopping centre when she visited me from Samoa. Mum met many of her relatives and friends, and there was lots of laughter, Samoan jokes and gossiping. At that time there were Pacific faces everywhere and shops selling colourful Pacific clothes and Pacific specific foods; taro, fish, coconuts etc.
What do you offer in your legal practice?
At Woodroffe Lawyers we act for people of all races throughout New Zealand and Australia. I practice Law in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of Samoa. Civil Litigation, Commercial, Church, Employment and Immigration matters are my key areas of practice. Colin is a lawyer and patent attorney so we also do Intellectual Property work within New Zealand and worldwide.
I speak fluent formal and casual Samoan language and fully understand Samoan culture and traditions and other Pacific languages and cultures. Other staff members speak Thai, Laos, Niuean, Samoan and Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin). It goes without saying that we all speak English fluently. This diversity helps us assist and understand the legal problems of people who speak English as a second language. We sit well within the diversity of K' Road.
What is it that continues to attract you to K' Road?
K' Road is just as exciting today as it was in the past, but for different reasons. The diversity of the street today is inspirational. The cleaners, street sweepers and security guards always greet me with a friendly smile and stop for a chat - proof all human beings are the same and we can live happily together if we embrace each other and treat each other with humanity and respect.
How do you see the future of K' Road?
As a business owner K' Road remains attractive. I appreciate the service provided by the K' Road Business Association which provides us with constant updates of what is going on, organising seminars and arranging functions.
One of my dreams for K' Road is to have boxes of flowers and gardens along K' Road and Cross Street with more lights decorating the trees, similar to Remuera and Ellerslie shopping centres.
It would be ideal if our various ethnicities showed their cultural diversity more. I would like the government and Auckland Council to put more effort into encouraging and promoting the cultural diversity of businesses to make K' Road grow into a truly unique precinct.
I would like to see more businesses opening along K' Road to attract tourists. There should also be more publicity of the new bike paths to attract people. Perhaps users of the bike paths could be encouraged to walk their bikes along K' Road rather than use Canada Street.
The proposed underground rail loop is also an attraction that can be used now as a promotional tool to develop K' Road as New Zealand's cultural diversity space.
A favourite spot in the area?
My next door neighbour's coffee shop Millers is unique and different in style, but it attracts many customers because of the quality of the coffee and service.
Photo: Olinda Woodroffe and Teisina Tua talk outside Olinda's offices on Upper Queen St.
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