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Grey Lynn
Older Villas In Southern Grey Lynn.jpg
Older villas in the south of the suburb
Basic information
Local authority Auckland Council
Date established 1880s
Population 11733 (2018)
Postcode(s) 1021
North Herne Bay
Northeast Ponsonby
East Newton
Southeast Arch Hill, Kingsland
South Morningside
Southwest Western Springs
West Point Chevalier
Northwest Westmere

Grey Lynn is an inner suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, located 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to the west of the city centre. Originally a separate borough, Grey Lynn amalgamated with Auckland City in 1914.

Grey Lynn is centred on Grey Lynn Park, which was not part of the original subdivision of 1883, since the land was too steep and too wet for house construction. In 1914 the land was drained and levelled for playing fields. The park is home to the annual Grey Lynn Park Festival, which attracts around 100,000 visitors on the third Saturday in November.

The character of the area is often seen as "arty", and one of being a "traditional home to free-thinkers and anti-establishment types".


Grey Lynn is named for Sir George Grey (14 April 1812 – 19 September 1898), Governor of South Australia, twice Governor of New Zealand, Governor of Cape Colony (South Africa), Premier of New Zealand, and, towards the end of his life, Member Of Parliament for Auckland West. Grey's presence as MP for the area was apparently widely appreciated since following his retirement from politics and death in 1898 the north western portion of the suburb of Newton was renamed Grey Lynn in his honour.

The original subdivision was 900 acres (3.6 km2), which is still the formal extent of Grey Lynn. Most of the houses were built between the 1880s and the beginning of the First World War. Very few of the houses have been completely replaced by new structures.

Williamson Avenue and Crummer Road are two of the major streets in Grey Lynn. James Williamson and Thomas Crummer were joint owners of a farm in the area. In 1883 Williamson and Crummer sold the property to the Auckland Agricultural Company. The Surrey Hills farm was subdivided into 272 building sections to form the neighbourhood between Surrey Crescent and the southern end of Ponsonby Road. Shops are located at the intersection of Great North Road and Williamson Avenue.

Grey Lynn's streets were largely laid out by the developers as straight roads (as opposed to the earlier farm roads such as Richmond Road which twists and turns following the curve of the landscape.) Several streets are named after early landowners; Williamson, Crummer, Mckelvie, Pollen, Prime etc. But there is a prevalence of cultural personages from Britain: Sir John Millais, Lord Elgin, Alfred Lord Leighton, Coleridge, the Earl of Beaconsfield, Dr Arnold, Dickens, Dryden etc. This was obviously intended to give an artistic ambience to the area.

Most of the houses in the area were built between the 1890s and the First World War. They were built quickly and with little variation in layout. Their street facades were differentiated by the application of mass-produced items; wooden fretwork, stained glass panels, turned balusters and pressed tin (intended for interior ceilings - this 'new' product occasionally appears on the gable ends of some Villas). The most important feature was the bay window - hence the name Bay Villa - an important feature which marked the owner as middle class. The new inhabitants tended to be young couples, mostly white collar workers such as clerks and office workers, teachers or skilled crafts people. The adjacent area north of Richmond Road was probably similar. This was different from the nearby working class area of Freeman's Bay or the upper middle class area of Herne Bay.

By the 1930s and 40s the original owners were beginning to age and the fussily detailed houses of Grey Lynn on their cramped sections were seen as being very old fashioned and undesirable. The increased ownership of motorcars meant suburban development was expanding exponentially resulting in the mid 20th century ideal of the quarter-acre section. All the inner suburbs of Auckland became less desirable and areas like Grey Lynn became very rundown. Many properties became owned by people who lived elsewhere and often divided into flats or operated as Boarding Houses. Repairs were kept to a minimum and in some cases houses were not repainted for almost half a century. The fact that so many houses of this period are still standing today despite the depredations of fire, rot and borer is an indication of how well they were built.

By the 1950s the very low rents in places like Grey Lynn and Ponsonby attracted students and immigrant workers from the Pacific Islands. By the 1960s Grey Lynn had developed a definite Polynesian flavour. Although in recent years this has greatly diminished, there are still a large number of Tongan and Samoan churches in the area.

The 1970s saw a renewed interest in older Victorian properties and from that period onwards many young professionals began buying dilapidated kauri villas in areas like Grey Lynn and renovating them. From the early 1990s this gentrification process began to visibly change the area, resulting in increasing housing prices and rents. Lower-end retail enterprises have gradually been replaced with major corporate projects while the area experienced a level of gentrification. The influx of middle-class people has resulted in a reduction of student flats and the slow but steady displacement of Polynesian families. A number of recent housing developments in the suburb have attracted controversy due to their contribution to an increase in population density.


Grey Lynn Festival In Auckland 2008
The Grey Lynn Festival in 2008

The Grey Lynn Park Festival is held in early summer in Grey Lynn Park. Begun in 1984 the event celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2009. The event is the last independent community event in the city. It is organised by four dedicated people who raise money from stall fees and charitable grants and give a lot of their time. It attracts thousands of visitors. It started as a local community get-together with working-class and Pasifika roots, though the appeal has broadened through the decades. First appearing in 1987, local band Unity Pacific have appeared many times since and headlined in 2009. The 2012 event was cancelled due to forecasts of rain. The 2014 event is scheduled for Saturday 29 November.


The suburb is served by public transport. It lies within walking distance of the central business district via Ponsonby. Buses run down Great North Road, Richmond Road, Surrey Crescent and Williamson Avenue.

Notable buildings

  • Grey Lynn Fire Station: The former Borough Council Chambers and Fire Station. This building is distinguished by a wooden spire (recently restored) which originally housed the fire bell. Standing at the Ponsonby Road end of Williamson Avenue, this brick building dates from 1889, was designed by John Mitchell. It resembles many American fire stations of the period. The upstairs was used as the Borough Council Chamber until the suburb was amalgamated with Auckland City in 1914.
  • Former Auckland Savings Bank: Located on Ponsonby Road near the intersection with Karangahape Road. This italianate building was designed in 1885 by Edward Bartley – originally a single story building it received a second story designed by the same architect in 1900. The former banking chamber is distinguished by the use of New Zealand marble. In the 1920s the lower part of the room was lined with panelling made of Cloudy Bay Marble from Nelson. Currently occupied by an Art Gallery.
  • Allendale House: At the corner of Crummer Road and Ponsonby Road stands the large 1890s Italianate Mansion of George Allen, a saddle and harness maker. "Allendale" is a local landmark, having been successively a doctor's surgery, Maori girls hostel, boarding house, refuge for alcoholic men, and a restaurant. In the 1990s it was purchased by the ASB Community Trust as its headquarters and restored.
  • Carlile House: A large Italianate building at 84 Richmond Road. Built in 1886 as an industrial school named the Costley Training Institute as part of the bequest of Edward Costley who left money for several Auckland charities. Owned by the adjacent church, it is now in poor condition and vandalised. The original stables are still visible on the Chamberlain Street side.
  • Grey Lynn Public Library: Located at the Surrey Crescent shop at 474 Great North Road. This Neo-Georgian building was designed by architect William Gummer, and was opened in December 1924 by the then Mayor Sir James Gunson. It continues to be used as a public library and community hall today, and the inside now includes murals painted by artist Murray Grimsdale.
  • Former Cameo Cinema: Located at the Surrey Crescent shops this Art-Deco building has been subdivided into several spaces and is occupied by a variety of businesses. The arched entrance is still a feature of the streetscape facing down Great North Road towards Western Springs.
  • St Joseph's Church: Located on the Great North Road at Surrey Crescent. This modernist Roman Catholic Church from 1958 was designed by Guy Chambers and is distinguished by stained glass windows by Milan Mrkusich.
  • St Joseph's Convent: Adjacent to the church on Great North Road is a school with modern buildings. One building is the former Convent built in the 1920s to replace an earlier wooden structure which burnt down. It is currently used as a hostel.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 10,242 —    
2013 10,842 +0.82%
2018 11,733 +1.59%

Grey Lynn, comprising the statistical areas of Grey Lynn North, Grey Lynn West, Grey Lynn Central and Grey Lynn East, had a population of 11,733 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 891 people (8.2%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 1,491 people (14.6%) since the 2006 census. There were 4,173 households. There were 5,751 males and 5,985 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.96 males per female, with 1,695 people (14.4%) aged under 15 years, 3,291 (28.0%) aged 15 to 29, 5,994 (51.1%) aged 30 to 64, and 753 (6.4%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 78.7% European/Pākehā, 9.7% Māori, 12.4% Pacific peoples, 9.8% Asian, and 3.4% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 29.6%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 60.5% had no religion, 28.2% were Christian, and 6.7% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 4,884 (48.7%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 564 (5.6%) people had no formal qualifications. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 6,591 (65.7%) people were employed full-time, 1,392 (13.9%) were part-time, and 318 (3.2%) were unemployed.

Education and sports

Grey Lynn School and Newton Central School are contributing primary (years 1-6) schools with rolls of 373 and 289, respectively.

St Joseph's School is a Catholic state-integrated full primary (years 1-8) school with a roll of 64.

All these schools are coeducational. Rolls are as of July 2016.

Secondary schools serving the area include Auckland Girls' Grammar School, Mount Albert Grammar School, and Western Springs College.

Grey Lynn Park is the home ground of the Richmond Rovers rugby league club.

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