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Sunday 13 November 2016

Obituary: Margaret Hoffman

Posted in: True Stories
By Mike Binis - 3rd May 2011

Margaret Hoffman

If you know K'Rd, chances are you knew Margaret. But if your only foray into Karangahape Road was for late-night gay bars & clubs, you only saw one side of this iconic park-bench stalwart.

Margaret Hoffman passed away quietly last week, and many would say that was about the only thing she did quietly. Yet for those that saw her start her day on K'Rd, She started every day well-dressed and well-mannered. Much like K'Rd after the morning footpath cleaners do their rounds, Margaret began her day fresh, clean, well made-up, and often dressed to the nines. She was polite when asking for a cigarette or a couple of dollars, either walking confidently along Auckland's most colourful street, or settling into her favourite bench just outside St Kevin's Arcade. She'd fix her hair and check her make-up in the reflection of a shop window, ready to break open her bottle of plonk du jour.


Margaret's favourite K Rd bench

As the day wore on, the alcohol took it's toll, and Margaret slowly eased into the woman who hurled abuse at everyone as they walked by. But if she knew you as someone who had taken time to talk or give her a fag or a coin, you could be spared her outbursts. I once had the opportunity where Margaret apologized for barking at me where, after she had been abusing pedestrians before me, continued her tirade at me- only to recognize me as a local and abruptly said “Oh, sorry, dear. I don't mean you. Got a fag?”

Late at night, K'Rd gets dirty. It gets messy. It gets drunk, loud, and obnoxious. That's part of its charm. And Margaret mirrored that charm. By evening her demeanor, clouded by alcohol, became caustic. Even those she might have recognized as friends earlier were now just a target for her foul language. But even then, she was never violent, and it was clear to see that she meant nothing by it. Like the rest of K'Rd at night, she'd grind herself into the pavement, slink home, and pass out; only to start fresh and do it all again tomorrow.

Until last week.

Many in the gay community knew Margaret, and they paid their respects at the ceremony this morning in the Baptist Tabernacle on Queen Street. Photos of Margaret's funeral are available in our Scene Pics section. 

Karangahape Road will miss you, Margaret.

- Mike Binis has lived on Karangahape Road, for several years co-owned a bar on a side street and has observed the area's regulars for years. He attended Margaret's funeral this morning.

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Mike Binis - 3rd May 2011