On Saturday morning, Otara Market sprawls across the car park of the Otara Town Centre. Though often promoted as the largest Maori and Polynesian market in the world, these days it is far more diverse than that, reflecting the racial makeup of modern South Auckland. Certainly there is still a strong Polynesian influence. Reggae beats and Pasifika rhythms ring out across the market, and the adjacent Community Hall is full of kete (woven baskets), tapa cloth and island-style floral print fabrics. Reasonably priced Maori greenstone carvings and Maori sovereignty shirts (look for tees emblazoned with the words “Tino Rangatiratanga”) can be found next to Sikhs flogging gold bracelets, Koreans selling Korean-language DVDs and Chinese (lots of Chinese) selling truckloads of cheap fruit and veg.
There’s plenty of low-cost eating from coffee and pastries to wieners, goat curry, pork buns, whitebait fritters and even a classic Maori boil-up of pork bones, watercress, pumpkin and fry bread. The market is liveliest from 8–11am.