Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Kiwi Expats Blog

I Really Didn't Want to Move to Tauranga | Kathryn Overall's Reluctant Homecoming
22 February 2015

Kathryn Overall is a returned Kiwi expat who enjoys living and working in Tauranga.

She is the friendly voice behind the 'Wish You Were Working Here' Facebook posts, blog stories and e-newsletters. Each month she chats with people who have moved to Tauranga, collecting their stories and advice to share with you.   You can contact her on kathryn@priorityone.co.nz.

This is HER story!

I have a confession to make.

When I moved back to New Zealand, aged 27, after spending eight years in Sydney I really didn’t want to come back to my home-town Tauranga.  

After a brief stop-over milking cows with my Dad on the family farm in Maketu, I hot-footed it to Auckland faster than you could say ‘get me to a big city’.

I thought that going from Sydney to Tauranga would be akin to cruising down the pace-of-life highway at 100kph in 5th gear (I learnt to drive in a manual) and then suddenly stalling into first.  

Perhaps, into reverse.



I wasn’t far wrong actually.  But the truth was, I came home because I needed to slow down.  

After years of running hard and fast in a music publishing role at a big church in Sydney I needed a sea-change. 

I needed to reconnect with my roots.  I needed to read.  To reflect. To write songs.  To spend time outside.  To notice the changing seasons.  To eat fruit I had picked myself, even grown myself.



It took me a while to realise it, but what I actually needed was Tauranga.

As it turns out, events conspired against my Auckland plans - the Global Financial Crisis to be precise. 

I kid you not, the week I appeared in Auckland, the doors slammed shut on jobs all across the city with a resounding bang. 

I was six weeks into the move - depressed, not sleeping and turning down crappy temp jobs I really couldn’t afford to turn down, when the phone rang.  

Could I come home and take over a piano teaching contract for one term at Pongakawa Primary School?

The school I went to when I was 5 years old.  Just 10 mins down the road from the family farm.

Could I?  

Yes, yes I could.


That was nearly seven years ago now.  

I did the piano teaching gig while living in a caravan at my folks' place, before taking on a marketing and student recruitment role at Bethlehem Tertiary Institute.

The sea-change did me a world of good.  I hung out with my sisters, flatted with a Whakatane girl who had just moved back from London, learnt to breathe, to leave work at 5pm, to be quiet and to slow down.

Tauranga was great for slowing down.  

But, it was also a great place to re-build momentum again once I had caught my breath.

I don’t think I truly embraced Tauranga as a city until I started my freelance writing and social marketing business, Engage Communications in 2010.


Staring 30 in the face, un-attached and with no responsibilities other than my own happiness and my credit card debt, I had this sudden desire to create something of my own.

I quit my job and embarked on the brave new world of self-employment with no experience but enough verve to get me through the early years.

That’s when I discovered the vibrant little city-village that exists at the heart of Tauranga, once you scratch beneath the surface of the beach and the retirees.  

There’s a lot of ‘can-do’ in the air here.  

A lot of 30-something creative, smart people doing good and interesting things - whether flying their own flag or working under someone else’s.  

When you are starting out in business, living in a place where everyone knows someone who knows someone is a wonderful thing. 

I joined the Venus Womens Business Network, met a bunch of warm and inspiring business women and began writing the features for the Venus magazine.


After working from home for 2 years I became a founding member of the Ignition Co-Working Space in the heart of Tauranga city and have been here ever since.


I have plenty of interesting communications work to do.  I have a wide network of business connections. 

I have a strong core of meaningful relationships, a diverse and interesting social circle, a great church community

I climb the Mount at sunset about 3 nights a week and love the combination of exercise-induced dopamine and nature-induced joy. 


I am doing an online course in Magazine Journalism.

For the last few years have been picking away at recording a singer/songwriter album featuring a selection of my songs from the last seven years.   It will come out sometime in Autumn 2016.


I guess you could say things are working out for me.

We got off to shaky start, but at it turns out, Tauranga and I are getting along nicely.



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!

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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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