39 days ago

My Wellington: Swee Tan

Nicholas Boyack Reporter from Community News

Dr Swee Tan is a world-renowned researcher and plastic surgeon who has lived in Khandallah for 26 years. Born in Malaysia, Tan travelled the world before settling in the capital, where he heads up the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute. Here’s his take on life in the capital.

How long have you been a Wellingtonian?
I was here in 1992 when I was doing my training in plastic surgery. We lived here for one year and then went overseas to London, then Oxford and Boston, and then came back in 1995. I was born in Malaysia, and left in 1980. I went to Melbourne, where I studied, and then I went to Hamilton, Christchurch and Wellington. I resisted coming to Wellington because I went through Wellington in 1987 – it was a dead place, there was no restaurant open after 7pm.

Where is your favourite place to eat out?
We are very lucky to have good eating places. Yum cha at Dragons, for example, is one of our favourites. There are so many choices. Noble Rot is a very good place for dinner. If you are after brunch, Cafe Thyme next to the Twigland Garden Centre, which is my favourite garden centre. It’s between Johnsonville and Churton Park.

Where is the best coffee in Wellington?
You put me in a difficult position because in Wellington we have so many great places for coffee. Prefab is great, or Neo Cafe, and Revive in Petone. You can get good coffee anywhere really, but those are really great spot.

What’s an underrated attraction near you?
Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush is the only public botanical garden dedicated to native plants, and they are really nice: about 11 kilometres, with many bushes and gardens. We used to take our children there when they were younger. There is a stream there with eels, beautiful eels, an 800-year-old rimu tree and a nice canopy of trees. It is only five minutes away [from the city], it is right here on our doorstep.

What, in Wellington, can’t be beaten on a good day?
Walking along the waterfront with Maestro [Tan’s dog] along the path that takes you to Oriental Pde. It is such a beautiful place.

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