Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Kiwi Expats Blog

Amanda Barker of Pillar Consulting Brings Health and Safety Expertise to Tauranga Businesses
6 October 2017
Amanda Barker of Pillar Consulting Brings Health and Safety Expertise to Tauranga Businesses

Amanda Barker was building up a career in human resources when she stumbled upon a surprising passion. Working in HR for a Queensland mining company, Amanda found herself fascinated with the health and safety culture of Australia’s mines.

"I was exposed to a safety culture unlike anything I had ever experienced and it really spoke to me."

Amanda, who grew up in Wellington, was fascinated. She went on to pursue her newfound passion through relevant work projects and independent study. When the Barker family moved to New Zealand in early 2016, Amanda threw herself into the field, learning the New Zealand industry inside out until she was ready to launch her own health and safety business, Pillar Consulting, here in Tauranga.

Amanda, what took you to Australia?

I was working as an internal resource consultant for ANZ in Wellington when my husband and I had the desire to travel and try living somewhere new. I had family in Brisbane and ANZ was happy to transfer me to their Queensland branch. We stayed in Brisbane for eighteen months then spent three years living and working in Sydney.

Tell us about finding your passion for the health and safety industry.

In 2012, an opportunity came up to work for a large mining company’s HR team in central Queensland.  You can’t set foot onsite without completing a two-week intensive health and safety course first. Onsite, I was exposed to health and safety systems and practices every hour of every day. It was a huge learning curve and wonderful experience. I absolutely loved it.

After discovering how much I loved the industry, I put my hand up for relevant projects in order to gain a deeper understanding around preventative methods to reduce harm in the workplace.

What did you gain from your time in Australia?

I had so many wonderful experiences in Australia. I met many amazing people and I had my two babies over there.

Professionally, the experience and training that I gained was invaluable and propelled me into the field that I love to work in today. I was exposed to a safety culture unlike anything I had ever experienced and it really spoke to me. The autonomy of my roles taught me to make tough decisions and instilled a level of resilience that I didn’t know I was capable of.

What prompted you to move back to New Zealand?

After my second child was born, my husband and I decided to move back to home soil. We loved Sydney – the weather is amazing, the city is vibrant, we had loads of wonderful friends there and my Mum still lives there – so leaving was a difficult decision, but it’s one that we have not once regretted. The lifestyle here is much more in line with how we see our future as a family.

How did you build upon your health and safety experience in New Zealand?

When I moved back to New Zealand early in 2016, I pursued further study in health and safety in order to learn more about the operational systems and practices across different industries. I wanted to know more about the changes in legislation and how I could use that knowledge to help Kiwi business owners. I also joined the New Zealand Institute of Safety Management (NZISM) and have since become a committee member of the NZISM BOP branch. I love the fact that the industry is becoming more regulated and there is always more to learn. I am surrounded by some extremely knowledgeable practitioners through my networks who are supportive and encouraging of my drive to further my skill set. I don't think I'll ever stop studying now!

What drew you to start your own consultancy business?

Originally, I wanted to start my own business in order to have some flexibility as a mother of two young children, but it quickly evolved into more than that. Studying fueled my passion for health and safety and I decided to immerse myself within this community.

Running my own consultancy business gives me the opportunity to work with many organisations across numerous sectors. I am passionate about continuing my professional development and working for myself allows me to take time to focus on my business, further study, my clients and my family. It’s busy, but I love it.

Tell us about Pillar Consulting.

Pillar Consulting was born out of my desire to help others strengthen their business. As a health and safety consultant, I partner with organisations to amend and drive their existing health and safety systems, or to implement and communicate new ones. The name, Pillar, comes from my desire to provide robust foundations around health and safety, people and culture.

People are the foundation and greatest asset of any organisation and I am passionate about educating directors, managers and business owners to keep their people safe and well. I mainly work with small and medium organisations who aren’t big enough to have an internal health and safety or HR function but need to manage this part of the business effectively. Pillar offers them a cost-effective way to outsource the work.

I work with a piece of technology called Safe365 which was developed locally in the Bay last year and now has more than 600 clients locally and internationally. Pillar also offers HR services for clients who require it.

Who are some of your clients?

I currently work with Hockey NZ, Canoe Racing NZ and Bartlett’s Swim School. I also have clients in the construction, agriculture, horticulture, tourism and hospitality industries.

What has establishing a new business in Tauranga been like for you?

The energy here is incredible and I feel so lucky to get to meet so many inspiring business owners who have warmly welcomed me and helped me out through advice, support and referrals. Being new to the area, I have had to network my way around town to meet people and I found joining the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce and various other networking groups very helpful.

Have you had any connections with Priority One?

I have been to the Priority One office and met with Annie Hill – she renewed my energy as she is so positive about the business growth that Tauranga is experiencing. The business community is buzzing and Priority One is a major driving force. They do an amazing job with introductions, promotions and referrals all in the name of helping local businesses succeed.

What attracted you to Tauranga?

My husband grew up on an avocado orchard in Te Puna and we wanted to recreate his idyllic childhood for our family. Auckland crossed our minds, but if we were going to leave Sydney it would be to live near the beach, largely free of traffic jams and long commutes.

We bought a house in Papamoa while still living in Sydney. We love the beach, the sunny lifestyle and the community feeling that living in Papamoa provides. We are so pleased – and we haven’t even had a summer here yet!

What do you love about living here?

I love the fact that I can walk to the beach! I run and do yoga to keep fit and I love how easy and close everything is. I have a ten-year-old Weimaraner dog called Stanley who is obsessed with the beach. The cafés and restaurants are great. My son and daughter are about to start Beach Kidz, which we are all looking forward to. The Little Big Markets are a great outing, as is a picnic in the Pony Club carpark in Papamoa to watch the sunset and enjoy a drink with friends.

What has moving to Tauranga meant…

For your career?

It has allowed me to change the direction of my career and be the master of my own destiny.

For your wellbeing?

My life has become very balanced since moving here. I feel blessed to be living the life that I’m living in this beautiful location.

For your family?

Everyone in the family loves it here. My husband gets to go fishing and surfing and he works three minutes from home, so we get to spend a lot more time together. I have one day off a week which I spend with my children and there’s so much to do on those days together. As a family, we are having a lot of fun living here. 


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!

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

2. Subscribe to our montly e-newsletter to receive stories just like this one about people who have already made the big move you are thinking of making. 

3. Have a story to share? We love sharing your sea-change or homecoming stories. Email me at kathryn@priorityone.co.nz to start a conversation.

Meet Kathryn Overall
Explore www.wishyouwereworkinghere.co.nz


Looking for work in Tauranga?

Send me your CV and a 100 word bio and we will send it out to local businesess who are on the lookout for good people. Priority One is not a recruitment agency, but as the economic development agency for the region we seek to make connections for people where we can. There is no charge for this service.

Email me at annie@priorityone.co.nz.

Annie Hill | Priority One
Communications/Project Manager

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!


Contact Priority One

Contact Priority One

Need help?

Send us your 100 word bio and we will send it out to local businesses who are on the lookout for good people! info@priorityone.co.nz

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!


Visit us on

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About Kathryn

About Kathryn


Kathryn Overall is the friendly voice behind the 'Wish You Were Working Here' stories and Facebook posts.  Each month she chats with returned Kiwi expats,  Auckland imports and New Zealand immigrants who have moved to Tauranga, collecting their stories and advice to share with you. 

CLICK HERE to read her own story of reluctant homecoming!


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