Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Kiwi Immigrants Blog

Clarissa van Emmenes | Johannesburg Foodie and Writer Starts New Chapter in Tauranga
26 April 2017
Clarissa van Emmenes | Johannesburg Foodie and Writer Starts New Chapter in Tauranga

Ever since they married in 2013, South African couple, Clarissa and Marco van Emmenes, have wanted to move to New Zealand. But after a cursory look at Auckland revealed a chaotic city too similar to the lifestyle they were used to in Johannesburg, they widened their search. It was then that they discovered their new home: Tauranga.

Clarissa and Marco have flourished since arriving in Tauranga six months ago. Marco has a great IT role with Trustpower, while the move has given Clarissa the incentive to do what she has always dreamed of: start her own business. Clarissa provides content strategy, social media management and creative copywriting services to other businesses and entrepreneurs. She balances her thriving young business with her newest passion project: a food and home entertaining blog called Kiwi Origins

So far, Tauranga has been all they had hoped for and more. And they're only just getting started!

Clarissa, where are you from?

I grew up in Durban and Johannesburg before eventually going to boarding school in Pretoria – South Africa’s capital city. My husband, Marco, was born and raised in Pretoria. Before moving here, we were both working in Johannesburg.

What drew you to New Zealand?

After tying the knot three years ago, we immediately started talking about moving to New Zealand. We had always wanted to move overseas and New Zealand was attractive because of the high standard of living, job opportunities, scenery and travel prospects. We were drawn to the exotic beach getaways, cultural city outings, ski holidays, mountain retreats…the landscape is so diverse and you can explore it without travelling for days on end.

How did you end up in Tauranga?

With New Zealand on the top of our wish list, we both started looking for jobs on Seek, LinkedIn and other sites. Auckland seemed the natural choice, but the more research we did, the less keen we were on moving there. We were trying to get away from the traffic and intensity we experienced in Johannesburg.

When we researched cities outside of Auckland, Tauranga appealed to us because of the laid-back lifestyle, affordability and the opportunity to have everything we want in one small package: city living, career opportunities, an active lifestyle and travel.

Tell us about your husband’s job search.

After weeks of searching for possible job opportunities, Marco connected with his future employer on LinkedIn who suggested he apply for a job Trustpower had open and then proceeded to invite him for an interview. He flew to Tauranga from South Africa for a face-to-face interview, giving him the opportunity to get a feel for the area and his potential workplace. Neither of us had been to New Zealand, so we felt it was important for one of us to actually see the country before making such a big decision!

Marco's skills and experience in software development and Cloud computing were on the long-term shortage list, but this in-person experience also showed that he would get on very well with his colleagues. They felt he was a perfect fit for the company and their team.

How did you know Tauranga was the right place to call home?

After that initial interview, we were hooked. Marco came during the winter, so it was rainy and dreadful. His phone died on a drive down to Tauranga from Auckland and he got lost in the Kaimais. Despite how scary this sounds, it actually gave him a scenic taste of the Bay of Plenty’s natural, unspoilt beauty.

When he returned to South Africa, he was absolutely convinced that this charming, seaside city would give us (and our future children) the lifestyle we had always imagined. Being a natural researcher and very jealous that I had not been able to see our new home before moving, I endlessly Googled Tauranga and did ‘walking tours’ through the CBD on Google Earth. I imagined spending lazy Saturdays climbing the Mount followed by a coffee at a local café; taking weekend trips to experience Maori culture; hiking through the mountain ranges; biking through the Redwoods; skiing in winter.

Tell us about your business?

I have wanted to start a business for a while. I am very entrepreneurial and am always running a passion project on the side of my day job. It’s a very millennial thing to do, but I think the main drive for working for myself in Tauranga was that we want to start a family soon and I would prefer to be able to determine my own hours to be able to balance that.

I provide content strategies, social media management and creative copywriting services for small businesses that want to tell an authentic story, grow and engage their communities and craft messages that are in line with their brand. I work mostly with small businesses, creatives and entrepreneurs looking for a fresh voice and brand identity.

How have you found running your own business?

Starting a new business has been a very exciting ride! Not knowing anyone meant that I had to put effort into forming new relationships, which you don’t always do when you are surrounded by friends and people you have always known.

It has been easy to build these relationships in Tauranga as the people are really approachable, open and easy to engage with. People here have a collaborative attitude; they help each other out. It feels like we are part of one very big family.

Working from home has been quite an adjustment, although I love the freedom it gives me. I love all the co-working spaces in the city and will start looking at using them for client meetings and planning sessions soon. At the moment, I work remotely for some of my old clients in South Africa and have a few clients in Tauranga and Auckland.

The biggest mind shift when going from salaried to freelance work is definitely the fact that you do not get a set monthly income. I use Xero for accounting, Asana to manage projects and have an Excel timesheet to track my hours. It is worth looking into these tools to help manage your business instead of doing everything manually.

What is Kiwi Origins?

I had been running a blog, I Love Pretoria, since university and I knew I would need a new platform in New Zealand. Kiwi Origins is a food blog where I share some of my favourite home entertaining tips and tricks (I am a very enthusiastic hostess), as well as favourite food spots and events around Tauranga and the rest of the country, as I discover them.

Tauranga’s food scene has really surprised me. New Zealand may not be known for its many original dishes, but its food scene is colourful and cosmopolitan. As the city grows, so will the foodie community and I am excited to see what is in store.

Have you gotten involved in the local business community?

I have enjoyed going to networking events around the city – the business community is vibrant and growing very quickly. Although I have not officially joined any networking groups, I follow the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce and LinkT on Facebook and I register for and attend their events.

I have also attended a few events, including an event at Tauranga Art Gallery co-hosted by Priority One. They are a great organisation doing a lot in terms of Tauranga’s reputation as an economic hub.

What was the hardest thing about leaving South Africa?

Marco and I both had successful careers in South Africa that we loved. The daily commute was draining and stressful, but our jobs were hard to leave behind. Marco did software development for a small telecommunications company while I did copywriting and campaign planning for Avon.

What do you love about life in Tauranga?

We live in Papamoa East in a new development and it is so worth the drive to town! The beaches are amazing and it is so green, lush and just really idyllic. I think that has been my favourite thing about Tauranga - it just packs so much punch for such a small city.

Also, have you seen the weather? Wow! That was very unexpected. In South Africa, everyone has this idea that New Zealand is rainy, grey and just miserable in terms of weather. But I think it’s just their emotional reaction every time the All Blacks beat the Springboks! The last thing I expected New Zealand to be was an island paradise, but I must say, that is what we’ve got!

Part of Tauranga’s magic is that there’s always something to do. We love hiking, cycling, having ice cream on the beach or taking road trips and exploring the surrounding area during weekends.


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

Contact Annie

Contact Annie

Need help? Contact Annie

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

Tauranga Welcomes You

Tauranga Welcomes You


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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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