Tauranga Welcomes You!

Sue Farrell – Tauranga, the Arts and Finding My Way

Sue Farrell Tauranga

When she was growing up, HR manager, Sue Farrell, wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. 

Art was in her blood and she took it seriously. She studied Graphic Art and Design in Auckland after “weaving her way through Europe”, a decision she says helped to ward off those feelings of being adrift that can sometimes occur after traveling. 

After working as a freelance illustrator for a while, the lure of a more stable financial status beckoned and she found her way into administration, hospitality and HR – a career that suited her nature as a ‘people-person’.

In 2017, tired of the Auckland pace and traffic, she found her way to Tauranga.

Finding HR contracts and connecting with the artistic community in her new city, has been part of the move.

And it hasn’t all been easy.  This is her – unfolding – story.

Could you give us a quick snapshot of your career history?

When my husband and I moved to Rotorua in 2000 I found work at a large hotel doing their accounts and payroll, and, wow – I discovered I loved working in the hospitality industry! That’s probably why I stayed there for nine years. The opportunity to move into an HR Advisory role also presented itself after several years.  I’m not sure if my graphic art and design experience has impacted on my HR career -quite possibly my procedural documentation may look a bit  ‘flasher’, my power point presentations are created with a ‘designer’s eye’, and I do like coming up with ideas to improve the status quo.

An opportunity to expand my HR knowledge saw me move to Auckland in 2015 to work at another hotel in the vicinity of Auckland Airport. I thoroughly enjoyed gaining a corporate perspective but I did not relish the time it took to drive to work and back home again. 

How did Tauranga end up on your radar?

My life seemed to revolve around avoiding rush hours, even in the weekends. This was not going to work long term. I also wanted to buy a house and, as Auckland was never going to comply there, a move to Tauranga seemed like a good idea. The sea was the attraction, plus I have family here and Tauranga is close to Auckland where my Dad and good friends still live.  I knew I would miss the city lifestyle, the career opportunities and other city attractions.

What has it been like finding work in Tauranga?

There have been challenges finding employment. Tauranga doesn’t have the same corporate depth as Auckland and I’ve had to consider part-time work and self employment options, as well as keep an open mind to other career paths.

I am super grateful for the support I’ve received from Priority One, as well as several of the local recruitment agencies.  A couple of businesses have approached me via Priority One’s Business Initiative and one of those connections led to a successful outcome.  


Coachio Group is a management consulting group that is in the business of implementing sustainable organisational operational improvement options to companies. I am employed on a part time basis in an admin and HR capacity.  They are a great bunch of people who enjoy what they do as well as appreciate a good laugh. And they provide biscuits.

What is your perspective on the arts scene in Tauranga?

Art remains a big part of my life. I am a member of The Tauranga Society of Artists. I attend evening workshops and a nicer, more positive, and inspirational group of people you could not find anywhere. As well as doing art, we talk a lot, and drink cups of tea. Steve will sometimes bring in baking. To anyone moving to a new town I would totally recommend joining a club for something you enjoy doing as a way of meeting like-minded souls who enjoy the same things you do. 

Tauranga City Art Gallery is comparable to any big city art gallery I’ve been to in New Zealand. I think the gallery organisers do a wonderful job bringing art to Tauranga.


What do you enjoy about living here?

I live in Gate Pa.  I enjoy its eclecticness. Greerton Village is my local community. I’ve noticed that the Greerton Community Team works very hard to bring events and a positive sense of community spirit to the area and I feel it is paying dividends – despite the prevalence of roadworks and homelessness. I LOVE getting to Mount Maunganui a couple of times a week. It is one of my happy places – and also the inspiration for my current art works.


What has moving to Tauranga meant:

For your career? Moving to Tauranga has meant that I’ve needed to look outside the box in terms of employment options.

For your wellbeing?  My wellbeing and health are at an optimum level – the sea, the sunshine, and fresh air will do that to you.

For your relationships? People are generally friendly and helpful here. In fact, I’ve met some awesome people and I probably need to put myself out there a bit more. Before I moved to Tauranga I was told that people can be very ‘clicky’ here. I guess that can happen in any small place where everyone knows everyone and has lived in the town for a long time.

I would like to settle here, contribute to the Tauranga community, and make it my home.


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

Recent Articles
Horticulture image
Thinking about a career in horticulture?
Casey Littler | the branding photographer making her mark in Tauranga
Kiwifruit Breeding Centre cultivating the future of horticulture in the Bay
UBCO - Motubikes -18
UBCO Bikes: getting the job done since 2015
Group shot in front of Building
NZWindows: opening doors in the Bay of Plenty for over 30 years
Jason Scott
Jason Scott of SwipedOn | The Tauranga Tech Scene
Vic Petilla
From the Philippines to Tauranga | Vic Petilla of Cucumber Shares His Story
Freshpack: NZ Fruits + First Fresh
The Apple Packer
Jono Jones
Jono Jones, Bluelab’s Head of Innovation Shares his London to Tauranga Tale
Dean Prendergast
Dean Prendergast | Tokyo to Tauranga
Christina Finlayson
Christina Finlayson | Growing her career in Tauranga
Laura Murphy
Laura Murphy | London to Tauranga in the midst of Covid 19
The creation of Community Chiropractic
The creation of Community Chiropractic from Singapore to Tauranga
Charlie de Haas
Charlie de Haas | Her return home to Tauranga
SaveYoung Holland Beckett
Young Holland Beckett Lawyer Ruby Mills Returns to Tauranga
Andre Jay
Andre Jay | A career committed to the success of young people
From the home of Robin Hood
From the home of Robin Hood to the beaches of Tauranga
Saima Anis of Trustpower
Saima Anis of Trustpower | Why I Love the Community Feel in Tauranga
Ash Cross of MOCA
Ash Cross of MOCA | Life After Travel: Why I’m Glad We Settled in Tauranga