Chlöe Swarbrick at home in her Freemans Bay apartment.
Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick rents a one-bedroom apartment in Freemans Bay, Auckland. The “massively nostalgic” Millennial fills the space with art by her mates, books on drug law reform, and robust houseplants.
CHLÖE: I’ve lived in a bunch of places around Auckland central. My first place – I’m sure it was illegal for people to be living there – was an old bungalow that was sliding off the back of a hill. Every single room, including the lounge, was a bedroom.
Then I lived in a tiny but deeply expensive apartment with no natural light on Symonds St. My last flat was a beautiful heritage apartment on Newton Rd. But one day it poured rain onto my couch.
As anybody who rents will know, it’s quite a challenge to get into places at the moment and costs are skyrocketing.
I moved in here because of the proximity to Karangahape Rd. I’ve never owned a car.
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Being able to walk or bus everywhere with my trusty, worn-down Hop card was important.
Most days I’ll go up the road and grab a coffee from a small business. There’s a ton of people who roast their beans around here. Even within the 1km stretch of Karangahape; you’ve got Miller’s coffee, Eightthirty, Daily Daily, Supreme, Fort Greene, Bestie… they all see me at least once a week (which is why I can’t afford a house, obviously).
I love chairs so much. My ex-partner, my current partner, and friends of mine have all harassed me jokingly about how much I invest in my chairs.
My couch is the most expensive thing I own. It was the first thing that I bought when I became an MP. It’s from Freedom Furniture and cost me just shy of three grand.
I have purchased chairs from a few of the vintage stores around home and my art is all done by friends.
I used to run a little art gallery and coffee shop called Olly with Alex and Bryan.
We held Jake Feast’s debut art show (he’s now a big deal) and I became fixated on that painting and decided to purchase it.
I tend to only purchase zines, or a piece from a debut show, or a T-shirt from mates of mine who are artists. It’s really cool to invest in them at the start of their careers, but then also to watch how massive they become and how they evolve as creators.
The only other thing I have from Olly is my zebra plant and it was the first plant that I ever managed to keep alive.
I’m massively nostalgic and sentimental, so I keep everything my friends make for me.
Ahnand Unka designed the “dance for democracy poster” in 2016. All the bands on it are amazing people I know from when I used to work at Neck of the Woods.
Anthony Tonin got me to speak at one of his gigs in Whanganui. He did an indie rock tour all about the importance and beauty of rail.
My mate James Hunt is another artist and drew me the Taxis card for Christmas.
I keep banging on about mental health, but I don’t think it gets enough cut through. We talk about mental health a lot as a burden that people have to individually carry. But actually, mental wellbeing is community. That’s why I surround myself with reminders of mine.
John Reynolds is a friend of my mate Deb, who runs an art therapy workshop for bereaved kids. Because a bunch of the kids were going to School Strike for Climate, they painted some signs and that one is by John.
My peace lily has stood the test of time. I’ve also got a monstera, which I’ve managed to grow. I can’t have a pet because I travel so much, but I’m really stoked that I’m doing better with my plants than I did with my Neopet.
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