K Rd street cleaner hangs up broom

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

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.

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