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Kiwi Immigrants Blog

Stine Smith: Merging Danish Roots with Kiwi Living
20 December 2017
Stine Smith: Merging Danish Roots with Kiwi Living

In 2011, Danish-born, Stine Smith, relocated to the beautiful Bay of Plenty after meeting her Kiwi husband in Dubai. She arrived in Auckland, but it wasn’t long before she re-located to Tauranga.

When Stine’s first child arrived, she felt it was time for a career change. Stine, who had worked for many years as a business management consultant, drew on her business expertise and her newfound love of New Zealand Merino wool to create Roots & Wings Organic Merino – a boutique brand that combines the purity of New Zealand Merino with the timelessness and versatility of Danish design.

Stine now has three young kids, a thriving company and a lovely home on a Te Puna orchard. Her business lets her connect with and appreciate her favourite elements of both her new and home nations: New Zealand’s off-the-land lifestyle and the crisp Danish style she grew up with.

We'll let Stine tell you about her journey to Tauranga. 

Stine, how did you end up living in New Zealand?

I met my now-husband, a Kiwi, when I was living in Dubai and working as a management consultant. He lived in New Zealand but did a lot of business in Dubai at the time. We met at a Rugby Sevens game - the first rugby game I had ever been to.  

I moved to Auckland in 2011 and started working for Fonterra.  Jason was only a boyfriend at the time and moving here was a test to see if it would work out. 

All I knew about New Zealand at that point was that it was next to Australia (I won’t be very popular saying that!) But I had never heard anyone talk badly about New Zealand – everyone who’s ever been here seemed to love it so I was optimistic.

What was your first impression of New Zealand?

My first impression was out of this world amazing coffee. I didn’t know I could travel that far from Europe and have such amazing coffee.

I stepped off the plane and felt like it might as well have been Denmark – culture-wise, Denmark has nothing on New Zealand’s scenery! Everyone was very casual and good humoured…except when it comes to the All Blacks, the one thing Kiwis take seriously.

When did you relocate to the Bay of Plenty? 

I moved down to the Bay in June 2012, a year after arriving in New Zealand, as we were starting a family. My husband lives here and has his business here, so it never made sense to live anywhere else. Once you’ve been living in this place it’s hard to find a better spot, weather and lifestyle-wise. We’re pretty spoilt here.

We live on an avocado orchard in Te Puna, a rural part of Tauranga. Our house is a mix of New Zealand and Scandinavia so I do feel a bit of Denmark in my house.

How did Roots & Wings come about?

After my first child I realised I couldn’t keep up my job in Auckland as commuting was too hard. I quit my job, a job I loved, and started looking into options of setting up a business myself. I’d been working for so many years consulting companies on what to do, that it was time I took my own medicine.

Merino wasn’t immediately the idea, but I had friends back home having babies and I wanted to send them something from my new country. I had never heard of Merino wool until I was given some for my first child and it blew my mind. The friends at home receiving my gifts were just as impressed and kept asking for more. I had visitors scooping up Merino in shops to bring home for presents and the penny dropped:  I’ll make Merino wear and sell to Denmark.

Danes are quite particular about their designs and branding, so I knew I had to custom a brand to fit the Scandinavian market - Roots & Wings Organic Merino was created.

How does your business keep you connected to both your new and home countries?

It’s amazing to put two strengths together into one product – Danish design mixed with a prime natural New Zealand fibre. I sing the praises of New Zealand when I go to Europe and vice versa when I’m here. It makes me feel closer to home to be able to connect the two countries on a work level.

What do you love about New Zealand culture?

So many things! One thing that always impresses me is how Kiwis are able to live off the land. You want fish, you just go and pull one out of the ocean. You want meat, that’s fine, no meat shortage or valid points about meat polluting the world when you live this remotely.

Also, it’s such an incredibly helpful nation. At times, I feel ashamed I don’t contribute or help out more. I thought I was a naturally helping person, but the scales down here are just off the Danish charts. People here are busy, but there’s always time to help. That has inspired me massively and something I talk a lot about when I go back to Denmark.  

What do you love about Danish culture?

I didn’t use to be a big fan if this, I do love the formalities that are part of the Danish culture when I go home. Dinner parties, dressing up, speeches, beautifully done homes with stunning Danish design – things that I used to take for granted but now appreciate even more. The ability to create ‘hygge’ everywhere, which always makes me feel right at home. It’s an old culture and I do miss all the subtleties that come with that.

How does Roots & Wings combine the best of the two?

Roots & Wings combines New Zealanders’ use of fresh and available products from the land with the traditions of design in Denmark. I also put an emphasis on customer service as I know any good Kiwi brand would. If a customer wants a gift wrapped a certain way or a special message included on a card, we do that. It’s not part of our public service offering, but we’re here to help so why not do the little things that mean a lot to someone else?

Which country is your primary market? 

Denmark would be the primary market as we did put more thought into targeting this market first.

I actually thought New Zealand was already swamped with Merino products, baby Merino in particular, so I initially had no interest in entering such a saturated market. But I kept getting approached and asked to sell here, so this year we opened up for that and it has been really well received and we’re now stocking shops in New Zealand and Australia.

What has Tauranga been like as a place to begin a business? 

Just amazing. The support options here are fantastic. If you start asking around and getting involved there are so many places you can go for financial support, marketing support, ideas, etc. I personally benefit from all the experienced people living here. It may not be a large city but I’m sure the concentration of experienced professionals must be very high per capita here.

Have you had any connection with Priority One?

I haven’t I’m afraid but it’s definitely an organisation I can see a great benefit in joining. Despite Tauranga’s modest size there is a wealth of opportunities here, so it would be great to have a local partner who could help you navigate your way.

What is it like raising children in a different country and culture to your own home country?

Luckily the cultures aren’t too far from each other. I do try to incorporate my culture and background into the children’s everyday lives. We watch Danish television, read Danish books and I only speak Danish to them at home. They’re still little (one, three and five) so they don’t question why, for instance, they have to dance around the Christmas tree on the 24th of December or burn a witch on the fire in June or eat rye bread with pate on all the time! It’s hard at times as it does require an effort to keep the traditions going in another culture. They don’t appear naturally as they would have in Denmark.

What do you love about living in Tauranga?

I’ve met so many interesting and amazing people from all sorts of backgrounds. It seems that many locals go abroad or move to Auckland or Wellington for work and reach a stage where they choose Tauranga’s lifestyle over an 80-hour work week. We’ve got all these experienced people and lots of business owners here, who still run their businesses but also prioritise lifestyle and family. That makes for many fun and interesting conversations and evenings out with people. It’s also great when you’re a new business owner, as there is so much expertise in our area.

What has moving to Tauranga meant…

For your wellbeing?

A different perspective on work-life balance. I relax and take the time to enjoy all this country has to offer.

For your career?

An opportunity to move away from the corporate world and start on my own.

For your relationships?

I have three boys and an amazing husband who welcomes the groups of Danes coming to visit each summer. My relationships to friends and family in Denmark is different now: instead of the odd dinner party, it’s three weeks together in the same house. Quality over quantity on the Danish front.


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 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

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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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