17 Jan 2021

K Road Chronicles: looking at homelessness from the inside

From The Weekend with Karyn Hay , 10:29 am on 17 January 2021

The K Road Chronicles is a web series that delves into what it is like to be homeless on the streets of inner city Auckland. 

Now in its second season, the show is hosted by Six - who knows the experience of homelessness first-hand, having lived on the streets for six years.

Six joined The Weekend and tells Karyn Hay that K Road’s seediness and dirtiness is one of the things we all love about the street.

“It’s an amazing place… it’s dirty and down.”

Six describes herself as a community journalist and K Road Chronicles is also a publication distributed in the area.

“People really respond to the chronicle because it’s people they see on the street, it’s the issues they’re interested in. It’s not ground-breaking stuff that’s going to break major stories.”

Six says that when she got housed, she got to wondering how the community could give homeless people back their mana.

“How do we empower them to get away from their begging cups and do something that is productive to the wider community.”

She says she was inspired by The Big Issue, a magazine about homelessness in the UK that is sold by people living on the street but didn’t have the budget for printing.

“The first issue I think we only produced around 50 copies and that was banged off on an old ink jet printer. It’s slow and expensive. The whole kaupapa or philosophy of the paper is to produce good quality, journalistic articles as cheap as we can.”

Funding for the paper comes from local businesses and people with an interest or stake in the community.

“It’s got to be supported by the community, otherwise there’s no point in producing it and I might as well go be a journalist at Stuff or NZME. But the community really has responded to it. Each issue gets a little bit bigger.”

Prior to homelessness, Six had a successful career. She started her journalism career writing copy at The Radio Network and went from there to corporate public relations.

“At the end of 2008, I was really disillusioned with the whole corporate side of communications and how easy it is to manipulate the general public… I guess I just kind of gave up for a long time.

“I did some stupid things and was really self-destructive. Every time I was about to succeed, I snatched defeat out of the jaws of success. Everything just kept going wrong.”

Six says that going from homelessness to housed is a huge change and many people sleep on their balconies or floors, some will drift back to homelessness to be with their community again.

“After a while, you can’t sleep unless there’s somebody screaming or a siren blaring past… there is an adjustment to be made.”

Six says the K Road Chronicles has been a labour of love and she certainly hasn’t seen a good financial return on it.

“People see you on TV or in a newspaper and think you must be rich or doing really well, but I measure success by distance travelled. If I measured success in dollars and cents, I’m an abject failure.”