The Manifesto Interview: Graham Wall

The Manifesto Interview by menswear editor Andrew Glenn


Graham Wall. Picture / Guy Coombes.

Graham Wall always looks effortlessly stylish whenever I run into him. This is usually in Freemans Bay, where he lives, or Shortland St, where he works. Always age-appropriate, with appropriately considered shoulder seams, trouser lengths and fabric colours.

He’ll often wear slim, dark denim jeans and crisp white shirts, lots of navy — but never call him trendy. In fact, he could be a poster-boy, well perhaps man, for the Monocle set, so it’s no surprise he’s a big fan of the magazine.

Wall’s real estate company does the biggest residential deals in town. He famously sold the Mark Hotchin mansion on Paritai Drive for $39 million and the Sultan of Brunei’s Herne Bay lair for $35 million. He’s involved in most of the high value deals in the country and has just completed a $14 million transaction in Queenstown.

“At the office the really big fun at the moment is helping some Silicon Valley guys buy holiday homes in Queenstown and the Coromandel. Seeing our beautiful country through fresh eyes and falling in love with this beautiful land again,” he says.

This month he’s selling two of the most valuable homes in Auckland.

“I’m meeting more amazing people and generally having a lovely time,” he says. “It’s brilliant to have a job that is bloody good fun almost every day.”

His passion for high-end real estate is matched for his inspiring love of New Zealand.

“We live in the only country on Earth with a truly golden future.”

FASHION

Shoes? Church boots.
Shirt? Comme Des Garcons shirt (navy or white).
Jeans? APC or Acne (used to have the skin complaint, prefer the pants).
Underwear? Uniqlo. No man on Earth will ever buy any other underwear once he has experienced Uniqlo regular men’s underwear — about 8 bucks. Actually, everything at Uniqlo is amazing.
Trainers? Nike.
Luggage? Ten-year-old Mandarina Duck.
Watch? My one and only extravagance, Rolex stainless steel Daytona (keeps terrible time, but that’s what your iPhone is for).
Personal style? As my wife will tell you, I have none.
Grooming? Thanks to the extraordinary skill of the world’s best barber, Marni at Tokoya Barber Shop at Three Lamps Ponsonby, and the amazing moisturiser Lancome Age Fight, at 64 years old I don’t look a day over 63 and a half.

LIFESTYLE

Home? I live in Freemans Bay and that is definitely my favourite suburb on Earth.
Heroes? My heroes at the moment are the amazing women volunteers at Mercy Hospice who, with the help of their guest of honour Prime Minister John Key, raised $650,000 on a Sunday afternoon last month. Extraordinary!
Artist? I like BIG art. Andrew Barber is my favourite NZ artist and, if I had a billion dollars, Gerhard Richter is my world champion. If you’re buying art, best to talk to Gary Langsford. He knows everything and is just a fabulous guy to hang out with.
Musician? Lorde. History will tell. Lorde will be greater than Dylan. Authentic. Unique.
Furniture design? Simon James and Nat Cheshire are brilliant, local and affordable.
Toys? My last four cars have all been black SL Mercedes-Benz’s. I’m saving up for a Tesla.
Editor? Tyler Brule of Monocle magazine is a friend of mine and I’m such a shameless groupie that I agree with absolutely everything he says.

DINING

Food? Within a five-minute walk of my front door are Mekong Baby, Prego, SPQR, Blue Breeze Inn and the Ponsonby Road Bistro — five of the best restaurants anywhere. The best wiener schnitzel in the world is at The Engine Room. (Actually, The Engine Room might be the best restaurant in the world.) And how about Coco’s Cantina on K Rd?
Cafe? Dizengoff is perfect. Giles on Shortland St is pretty damn good too.
Bar? Best bar is the Seafarers Club, on the roof, at the Britomart. Crack crew and incredible view.

REAL ESTATE

Up and coming suburb? Definitely up-and-coming again is Parnell. When Mark Wallbank opens a restaurant in your area every house leaps in value. Woodpecker Hill and the arrival of stylish, sensitive property investors like Justin Wyborn’s Vantage Group are just part of the dynamic that lifts a whole suburb.

It seems to me also that St Heliers and Kohimarama are undervalued. Living by the beach with great cafes and 10 minutes from town is hard to beat. People massively underestimate the value of a great cafe. If you could put Dizengoff in Waterview, every property in Waterview would instantly be more valuable. If I were a young guy starting out I’d buy a cool 70s house in an outer suburb like Farm Cove with great schools, invite/persuade 20 friends to do the same and create my own cool suburb. It’s easy. Just add Allpress coffee and a few art directors. Check out The Burbs cafe at 190 Fisher Parade, Pakuranga.

TRAVEL

I don’t travel enough but I love Sydney, I love New York, I really, really love Auckland. I travel business class — I can’t afford it but I figure if you can’t look forward to the journey, you can’t look forward to your holiday. I try to fly Air New Zealand or Singapore Airlines but usually any airline that’s got a deal in business class.

I love Hydra in the Greek Islands. I think Portofino is the most beautiful port in the world, and I reckon the Black Barn (Hawkes Bay) is beautiful. Hawkes Bay might be the most perfect place on Earth, though I haven’t seen that much of it yet.

I’ve got a lot of friends around the world and they agree New Zealand is the safest place on Earth and the people are kind, cool and colourful. Auckland now is everything I dreamed it would be as a young man.

A succession of inspirational huge thinkers have created paradise. Firstly, the guys who created Viaduct Harbour, then Peter Cooper with Britomart, Andy Davies with Ponsonby Central and Simon Rowntree and James Brown with the City Works Depot in Wellesley St. All brilliant environments.

It’s great to live in Auckland as it reaches its potential. The coolest city, in the only country on Earth with a truly golden future.

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