K Rd street cleaner hangs up broom
You may have passed Markoni Tonga on Karangahape Rd without a second thought.
But the Mt Roskill man, known as Marko, is a star to the regulars and businesses in the district.
Tonga has been responsible for keeping the streets clean for more than 14 years but has finally handed over his beat and retired at the age of 65.
The bustling and colourful strip is now missing one of its most treasured assets, Karangahape Rd Business Association manager Barbara Holloway says.
‘‘He was the friendliest person, just a gentleman. The whole town likes him and he really cared about the locals.
‘‘He was really particular, kept the place spotless.’’
Tonga kept the street clean and tidy from the top of Ponsonby Rd to the end of Symonds St.
‘‘Is it a big job? Oh yeah, but easy for me,’’ he says. ‘‘I love K Rd. Everybody knows my name and the business people like me.’’
Tonga says he will still come back to his old beat to visit everyone.
‘‘They said: ‘ If you want to come back again to work, we want you to come back’, but I’ll see.’’
Chatting to locals is what he will miss most about the job, he says.
But he says he has plenty to do at home to keep him occupied.
‘‘I will help my wife – do the garden, clean and vacuum the house.
‘‘I have eight grandchildren now so I will take them to school and pick them up and take them to the park.’’
Tonga has watched K Rd change over the past 14 years. ‘‘There are big buildings now. It’s not like before when it was a bit rough, it’s better now and there are good people.’’
K Rd security guard Teisina Tua says Tonga has left some big shoes to fill. ‘‘Everyone on K Rd knows that it’s very hard work but everywhere was always clean. I know for sure that everyone will miss him because he makes everyone happy.’’
New look: A derelict Campbell Rd site will soon be home to a retirement village.