Thank you James

It is with a heavy heart that Southbank said farewell to one of its favourite faces and community custodians James Murphy from the Boyd Community Hub last month.

As a Southbanker, there haven’t been many that come better than James. Having operated KereKere South at Boyd since its opening day back in 2012, his cafe has become much more than just a place for a good cup of coffee.

From its renowned “House of Cards” donation system, where customers use a playing card to nominate a cause to donate towards, to its array of regular community events, KereKere has become its own community hub within a community hub.

And having been the driving force of it all for five years, James announced last month that, while having many fond memories at Boyd, the time was right to hand the cafe over to new hands.

“KereKere is very much my version of community and now it’s more about having a dialogue with the community. What is it that they want? How can it look different?” James said.

“Part of the excitement is that if we kept everything the same it wouldn’t be a representation of how quickly everything is changing around here so it’s actually time for some fresh residents and businesses to give it some new enthusiasm.”

While being a for-profit business, James’ background as a social worker has meant that the notions of generosity, sharing and caring have inspired everything KereKere does.

It’s a philosophy that can be summarised in its title. Raised in Fiji, James named the cafe after a Fijian custom in which a relative or neighbour can request something that is willingly given with no expectation of repayment.

His business Oswald + Co, which recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary, is a specialist consulting practice creating business concepts that celebrate community. KereKere is one of its many projects.  

While the Southbank cafe will no longer be named KereKere, James said that the owners of the new Boyd Cafe would operate the business under a similar set of community principles.  

He described the Boyd Community Hub as “a focal point” that had played an integral role in helping our community realise the best version of itself.

And through the passion and hard work of both he and others at Boyd, it has certainly come a long way since it opened, as James recounted.  

“I remember on the first day going ‘oh this is going to be easy how good is this!’ We served between 400 and 500 people in the one day it was crazy and there was a real sense of spark about it,” he said.

“Two three weeks afterwards it was the harsh reality that no one lived here just yet and those people who did were probably a little bit further away than what we thought, so the challenge was then how do we bring people here?”

From dressing up as Santa and Superman to hosting free barbecues, cake sharing days and even initiating community forums, James has played an integral role in helping shape the Southbank community.

While he was saddened to be leaving Southbank, he said he was excited to move on to his next project Future Coffee, which is a plunger coffee for the workplace designed to share, build relationships and strengthen community.

“The idea is that in your own workplace you actually share it with a colleague and pause your day to stop and actually spend that time building relationships,” he said.

“We’ve had so much learning here in Southbank about how to animate something so for us it’s about animating these community events, which are like the ritual of community.”

Southbank Local News thanks James for his contribution to the Southbank community and wishes him all the best with future endeavours.