This window looks out to a backyard in Mount Roskill, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. There is a passionfruit vine, and lemons and limes. I planted two nīkau when we first moved in. They are growing slowly.
I came back to New Zealand in the summer of 2020, in January, from Rhode Island. I had been directing a TV show there. The last thing we did was an explosion on a roller coaster in a village of vampire children in a carpark at three in the morning. It was cold. I came back to have a summer holiday with my kids, and to start a new show for Netflix. Then Covid hit.
My family and I rode out the first lockdown in a small apartment at the town end of Dominion Road; read a lot of books. As soon as we got the chance, we moved to a bigger place. It’s a house, with a basketball hoop and a trampoline. It is built of brick and tile, and sits in the real, physical world of Mount Roskill (maybe more like Sandringham, a little more than halfway down Dominion Road). It’s been here for almost a hundred years.
My grandparents emigrated in 1948 from Fiji. My father grew up in a state house in Mount Roskill, less than two kilometres from here, just on the other side of Mount Albert Road. He used to run up to the top of Ōwairaka. Now my partner and I regularly walk and run up there. Our route takes us along Oakley Creek, past the old family home.
I made my first movie here, in 2005. It was about a party in a backyard in Mount Roskill. Since then my career has taken me to a lot of incredible places and introduced me to a lot of inspiring people. I’ve been all around the world. And like Robert De Niro says in Casino, “In the end, I wound up right back where I started… And why mess up a good thing?”