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Tauranga Welcomes You!

Kiwi Expats Blog

Becky Steens | Lockdown Reflections From Litigation Lawyer on Moving Home to Tauranga
22 April 2020
Becky Steens | Lockdown Reflections From Litigation Lawyer on Moving Home to Tauranga

When litigation lawyer Becky Steens returned to Tauranga after four years working in Jersey, Channel Islands, she was surprised at how much her hometown had grown. 

Working at a high-profile law firm in Jersey had provided amazing career opportunities for Becky, but in 2019 she and her husband Michael felt a pull to return home to New Zealand. In particular, they felt drawn to Tauranga, where they had connections, history and hopes for a good work life balance.

Three months after Becky moved home and settled into a role at Holland Beckett Law, the COVID-19  pandemic caught the world by surprise.

While working from home during the New Zealand lock-down, we asked Becky to reflect on her homecoming experience and to consider the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the people of Tauranga.

This is her story.

Becky, first things, first.  How has lockdown life been for you?

It's been interesting. I think everyone’s experiences are quite different. Personally I am lucky to be able to work from home and to continue with normal life as much as possible, but with a lot less social interaction! Holland Beckett have been extremely supportive in that regard. 

I know others are doing it much harder, and are unable to work or have had their businesses significantly affected. Every day brings further positive news about less and less cases of Covid-19. I'm feeling hopeful that we are getting closer to returning back to life as normal.

We are glad to have moved when we did, because otherwise we may have been delayed or unable to return. We were lucky with our timing.

How do you know that it was time to come home?  

In mid 2019, my husband and I began to feel the pull to return to New Zealand, and particularly Tauranga. We grew up here, so it felt like an obvious choice. We have so many connections and great memories here. My husband and I were married on his family farm (and yes, the wedding featured a spit roast and a tractor!) My vision for our move was to re-establish connections and work hard but also have balance. There’s no point living in a beautiful place if you can’t press pause every now and then to stop and enjoy it.  

Can you tell us your career story?

I originally wanted to be a journalist! People and their stories interest me. However, during my first year at The University of Waikato, I had several friends who were studying law and it seemed really interesting. My passion and interest developed from there. I started working as a law clerk part time at a firm in Tauranga over the summer break and at a law firm in Hamilton during semester. It was great to get some first-hand experience whilst studying. 

Once I graduated from university I accepted a job offer back in Tauranga. I liked the idea of coming back to my hometown and helping locals. Plus my now husband, is from Tauranga also, so the choice made sense from a lifestyle perspective.  After two years we felt the itch to broaden our horizons and decided to move overseas. I landed a job at a highly regarded top offshore law firm, based in Jersey in the Channel Islands, where I worked for four years.

What did you gain from your time living in Jersey?

From a professional perspective, it was a fantastic opportunity to work with specialist practitioners on a range of high profile cases. I worked in the areas of trust/estate law, insolvency and general commercial disputes. There were often multi-jurisdictional aspects to our advice, which presented interesting challenges. 

From a personal perspective, I loved living in Jersey. I met some fantastic people through work and through various sports. In particular, the triathlon club and my local cycling club were fantastic. I had the opportunity to represent Jersey in road cycling at the Island Games in Gibraltar. I’ve continued my passion for cycling and the occasional triathlon since we moved back to New Zealand.

We also had the opportunity to travel and have some amazing experiences from husky sledding in Norway to marlin fishing in Cape Verde.

Our honeymoon was probably the highlight trip. We started with hiking an active volcano and trekking to see wild silverback Gorillas in the Congo. We then travelled to Kenya where we did a safari through the Masai Mara and the Samburu and stayed at Giraffe Manor. We finished in the Maldives with amazing snorkelling and water sports. It truly was such an adventure and I’m reminded of how fortunate we were (and are), even more so now that we are in a situation of such uncertainty with COVID-19.

What did you think moving to Tauranga would mean for your career?  

I don’t feel as though I have had to make any sacrifices. Tauranga is a great place for people and families of all ages and stages. It also has a thriving business community and great networks for existing businesses, entrepreneurs and young professionals. 

Moving to Tauranga was the next logical step for my career. I was ready to bring back to Tauranga my skills, experience and renewed love for being back in New Zealand. I now have the chance to work more closely with clients and build strong relationships, which is something I find very rewarding. 

What does your role as Senior Solicitor in the Litigation Team at Holland Beckett Law involve?

I’m involved in a range of commercial, construction and property disputes, insolvency matters, and trust and estate disputes. I anticipate using my experience in trust litigation/estate disputes to develop a specialist practice in that area, but at the moment I am enjoying working with a range of clients and the variety of work Tauranga has to offer. 

Every day is different and every matter is unique. I enjoy the opportunities to work directly with clients and come up with pragmatic and practical resolutions. I’m also fortunate enough to work with a team of driven and knowledgeable people and an extremely supportive partnership. 

What has it been like settling into Tauranga

We have had the best transition we could have asked for. We had a fantastic summer and were fortunate enough to enjoy a few weeks off work and to catch up with friends and family we hadn’t seen for a few years.

Also, the cycling scene is great here. There are still fewer women in the sport than men but the standard is generally very high, which makes for tough racing! Locally, I’ve joined the Tauranga Road Cycling Club and participated in a few of the Maketu races, which were good fun. It’s been a great opportunity to meet other locals. I also participated in the New Zealand Elite Nationals Road Race in February. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a race more tough than that, but it was a great experience.

Do you have any advice for Kiwi expats thinking about moving home to New Zealand, and Tauranga in particular?

I think you generally know when you’re ready to make a change from where you are. Tauranga has always been a fantastic place to live, and the fact that there are people doing awesome things in business here makes it a complete package.

What do you love about working and living in Tauranga?

I think because we are so active and like the outdoors we get to make the best of everything Tauranga has to offer. Plus there’s a fantastic café culture here. The local cafés and bakeries were something I missed so much while we lived abroad. We also really enjoy getting out on our boat and fishing in the bay. 

In my spare time I enjoy riding my bike, going for walks at Mount Maunganui and having coffee. It sounds really basic, but outside of work if I get to ride my bike and then sit at a local café I’m happy. I'm looking forward to being able to do these things again once it is safe for us all to do so.

What has your experience of the COVID-19 crisis so far told you about the Tauranga community?

I think Tauranga locals are extremely supportive of each other. The crisis has highlighted for me how well-networked the community is. Businesses have a genuine desire to support one another. I’ve reached out to many small business owners to offer what support I can during this time.

I also think Tauranga, and New Zealand generally, will bounce back from this. I have been in contact with clients on a daily basis throughout lockdown and there is a real sense that people are willing to work with one another to resolve issues which have arisen as a result of Covid-19.

What has moving to Tauranga meant:

For your career? It has allowed me to have a more direct engagement with clients and bring my offshore experience to my home community.  
For your wellbeing? I’ve enjoyed a wonderful summer with lots of bike riding and an unlimited supply of avocados (courtesy of my in-law’s orchard).
For your relationships? I’ve had loads of quality time with my family and friends, especially my brother and niece in Melbourne and my sisters in law who often travel down from Auckland. Its great to get to spend relaxed time with our families and enjoy the last of the kiwi summer sun.




Tauranga Welcomes You

Tauranga Welcomes You


Ready for a better work/life balance in a vibrant, growing, sea-side city?

We'd love to have you in Tauranga!


Tauranga Welcomes You

Tauranga Welcomes You


Ready for a better work/life balance in a vibrant, growing, sea-side city?

We'd love to have you in Tauranga!


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