Tauranga Welcomes You!

Finding the Right Fit | Recruitment Consultant Dennis Playford’s Brisbane to Tauranga Move

Finding the Right Fit

Life in Brisbane was good for Dennis and Fionne Playford and their two sons. They enjoyed their jobs; the boys went to a good school and they had family support nearby.

But while the Kiwi couple always assumed they’d return home one day, a death in the family reminded them that there’s no time like the present.

In late 2018, Fionne, a senior legal assistant, arrived to start a job at Cooney Lees Morgan. Six weeks later, Dennis, who had secured work as a consultant at Personnel Resources before departing Brisbane, followed with the boys. Now an integral part of Tauranga’s recruitment industry, Dennis is passionate about helping workers and employers find the right fit.

This is Dennis’s story of moving back to New Zealand after over 20 years overseas.


Dennis, what first took you overseas?

Originally from Wellington, I moved to Brisbane to live with my family when I was 20 years old. At 25, I wanted to see the rest of the world and I used London as my base. Having a British Passport made life a bit easier.

London was my first real experience living and working abroad without having a family to lean on. I had to stand on my own two feet and succeed living in a big city.

Tell us about your career in recruitment.

London marked the beginning of my career in recruitment, which has included corporate and commercial, education, retail, mining and engineering, construction… pretty much all sectors.

In 2011, Fionne and I decided to move to Brisbane. The mining boom created a big buzz in the recruitment world and it was nice that we had family support there for when our boys were little.

How did Tauranga end up on your radar? 

We have family living here and my wife is from the Bay of Plenty, but we had also followed the recent growth in Tauranga and realized it would be a good move not only personally but professionally too. We were also impressed by the work-life balance that Tauranga was offering.

What had to fall into place for you to move here?

We had pretty much decided we were moving to Tauranga when we flew to the Bay for a family visit in May 2018. It was definitely a benefit to visit Tauranga before making the move, to be able to scope out locations and to make those valuable face-to-face introductions. Making sure it would be a great place for kids was also important.

Having two young children, we found it so important to have a structured plan in place to best position ourselves personally and professionally. We decided on Matua Primary due to its reputation, friends’ reviews, and proximity to the city where we knew we’d be working. You can’t complain about an eight-minute car journey to work every day!

What was your experience of finding work in Tauranga like?

Fionne applied to Cooney Lees Morgan after seeing an ad on Seek and followed up with an in-person interview during a visit to Tauranga. She had registered and interviewed with Personnel Resources and let them know I was also looking for work.

After an initial Skype interview with managing director, Ian Chitty, we met in Brisbane when he attended a recruitment conference on the Sunshine Coast.

It was an advantage being able to meet face-to-face and to also be very clear to our potential employers that we were ready and able to move to Tauranga as soon as we had secured employment.

Can you describe your role at Personnel Resources?

Personnel Resources has been operating in the Bay of Plenty for over twenty years and we value our long-term relationships with clients and candidates. We pride ourselves on providing cost-effective, human resource and recruitment solutions.

My role is focusing on recruiting senior positions in horticulture, construction, engineering, manufacturing, transport, logistics, and resources.

What motivates you in your recruitment career? 

Connecting talented people with the right opportunities for them, and working closely with businesses to secure the best fit for their organization is what motivates me. A huge part of this and what I enjoy about recruitment is building trusted relationships with clients and candidates.

I really enjoy meeting clients and observing the passion they have for the company they work for, the sector they work in, and the lifestyle they have in the Bay of Plenty. The clients motivate me to source great candidates to help build growth in our region.

What did you gain from your time living out of New Zealand…


You are taken out of your comfort zone when living overseas; you grow professionally because you want to be successful.


You learn what type of person you are… you build resilience, you appreciate how lucky you were to be born in New Zealand, you don’t take things for granted. And experiencing other cultures helps you adapt to different situations.

What did you want from your life in Tauranga after living in Brisbane?

We had a pretty good life in Brisbane, but Brisbane is a river city and we choose Tauranga for its beach lifestyle. Our boys went to a great school in Brisbane and we have found Matua Primary to be similar.

We also wanted our boys to learn and experience the culture of New Zealand and little things like running through long grass and not worrying about snakes!

What three words describe your impression of Tauranga?

Lifestyle. Opportunities. Potential.

What connection have you had with Priority One?

The COO of Priority One, Greg Simmonds, and his passion for the development of the region is inspiring. I have also met with Annie Hill, the communications project manager, who really has her finger on the pulse of the city.

Any advice for Kiwi expat professionals considering moving to Tauranga?

The lifestyle is magic, we have the best beaches on our doorstep and a quick drive opens up everything this amazing country offers. We go kayaking on the lakes, hiking to local waterfalls, mountain biking in the Redwood Forest – there are endless outdoor activities which is a huge drawcard with a young family.

Obviously, you need to secure employment, and being a recruitment consultant, I can honestly say there are a lot of opportunities for Kiwi expats with the potential to quickly rise up the ranks in your profession.

There is a lot of innovation happening in the Bay and increasing the number of like-minded professionals will see the Bay go from strength to strength!


Gets You Thinking Doesn’t It?

No one can tell you when you’re ready for a change of lifestyle…but when you are, we’d love to have you in Tauranga!

Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TaurangaWelcomesYou

Email us at info@priorityone.co.nz

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