Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Kiwi Immigrants Blog

Finding Home Among Tauranga's Creatives | Caitriona Fallon's Ireland to Tauranga Tale
15 June 2018
Finding Home Among Tauranga's Creatives | Caitriona Fallon's Ireland to Tauranga Tale

Caitriona Fallon is a vivacious Irish woman, a singer-songwriter and a former Riverdance performer. She met her Kiwi husband during her Riverdance days and the pair have since travelled the world, started an Irish band and had three children - each born in a different country.

The couple bounced from Ireland to Sydney to Christchurch, before settling for several years in Caitriona's Irish hometown. Life in Ireland was full of rich connections, but Caitriona's husband, Marc, was ready to return to his roots and they both wanted to give the children a chance to be Kiwi kids. In 2016 the family of five moved to Tauranga.

The family was happy here but Caitriona felt a little adrift until she connected with the creative community behind the much-loved Tarnished Frocks and Divas annual performance. Ever since she landed the lead role of Alex in Zoetica, Tauranga has felt like home.

Here is Caitriona's story of the many sea-changes that ended up bringing her to Tauranga. 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Ireland in a harbour town called Cobh (Cove) in County Cork. It is similar to Tauranga in that it’s a cruise liner port and always busy with sailing, scenic boat tours and people fishing. I love living by the ocean and it's always been an absolutely non-negotiable factor when deciding where to move!

Can you give us a snapshot of your creative career?

Growing up in Ireland, you are immersed in music. It’s part of the culture and at any family gathering or party or in school it is totally expected that everyone will give singing a go. I remember standing on a chair in school when I was five years old to perform my first original song to the older girls. Even though I was shaking like a leaf, I knew that singing was the thing for me. At 19, I auditioned as a singer for Riverdance and was so fortunate to tour with the show for four years. It’s where I met my husband, Marc, a concert producer and drummer who grew up in Whakatane.

Tell us about your first trip to New Zealand.

In 1998, the Riverdance crew was on tour in Auckland. We visited Mount Maunganui and stayed in an apartment on the Mall for a couple of nights. I told Marc that I wanted to live here at some point. If only we had been clever enough to buy a house in 1998!

I finished up with Riverdance before Marc did and studied massage therapy in Dublin. Then we decided to move to Sydney, next to the harbour. The next few years were a whirlwind of marriage, three babies, four house moves between Sydney, Christchurch and Cork, and lots of singing in between.

“A bird and a fish can fall in love but where will they build their nest?”

Our three children were all born in different countries. Leah was born in Ireland, Catie in Sydney and Daniel in Christchurch.

When did you move back to Ireland?

In 2009, when Daniel was six months old, we moved back to Cobh and started up a band called Cookie And The Vaudevilles. Marc is a drummer so it was great that we were on this musical journey together. Gig nights were our date night! We started out doing versions of old songs from the 1940s and some quirky, jazz-influenced modern songs and over time began to write our own.

It was such a cool, creative phase for me and the boys in the band were like family. We made an album and toured all over Ireland in theatres and music venues. We played at Cheltenham Jazz Festival and my favourite time of the year to play was at Cork Guinness Jazz Festival.

What brought you back to New Zealand?

Besides the weather, the recession in Ireland at that time meant that the mood in the country was very low at times and, although I have a very close family and I really didn’t want to walk away from the band, it became increasingly attractive to consider another move.

Marc went to university for a year and got a Masters in Music and Technology, which gave me time to process the next step and begin to slowly tell my family what was coming next. They were upset but unbelievably understanding. Marc was ready to move home. He needed to be a Kiwi again and we all needed a tan! 

Why did you choose to settle in Tauranga?

Mount Maunganui was always going to be the best destination to settle with our family. For me it feels like the perfect half-way point between the cosy small town community feel of Cobh, and the busy, multicultural vibrant feel of Sydney. Marc applied for a position as director of the Bay of Plenty Garden and Art Festival and after a few late night Skype interviews he was offered the job.

When did you arrive?

We moved here in December 2016 and to be perfectly honest it was a very emotional move, but it was right move. After a few wobbly weeks, the kids settled into school and made lovely friends, Marc was loving life but I was a little bit adrift.

We were really lucky to have some of our friends living here who have supported us from the day that we arrived. The schools are fantastic, the beach lifestyle is so relaxed and I have found it to be very welcoming.

Can you tell me about getting involved in Zoetica and Tarnished Frocks & Divas.

A friend told me about a show called Tarnished Frocks and Divas which was auditioning at that time. By that weekend I’d auditioned and got the lead role of Alex in their show Zoetica. It was genuinely one of the best experiences of my life and I would highly recommend every woman over 40 in the Bay to step out of your comfort zone, or step into it, and give your inner Diva a chance to shine! I was so blown away by the talent and creativity in a group of beautiful women who are often overlooked because of their age. It’s a brilliant concept that should be all over the country .

Have you been able to build a sense of creative community again?

Yes, I still meet up with a bunch of the girls every few weeks which is lovely. Zoetica gave me back my mojo and a couple of months later I had a sold out gig at Totara Street, a few corporate and private gigs, a TV performance and a sold out show at the National Jazz Festival in Baycourt's XSpace.

There are some very talented musicians in Tauranga and I feel really lucky to be working with some of the best. We try to meet up most weeks to have jam and we just wrote our first song together which is very exciting.  People can stay connected with what we are doing locally through my Facebook Page.

What are you currently focussing on professionally?

I just recently sang for The Ladies Charity Luncheon at ASB Arena on June 8th. I sang two big songs from The Greatest Showman: Never Enough and This is Me. Next up, we have two Tauranga shows planned for a bit later in the year and are working on getting more original songs together to record.

Marc is loving his job with the Garden and Art Festival, which will be on from 15th to 18th November.

How have your children settled into Tauranga?

Our family has really settled here now. Tauranga is a fantastic place to bring up children – there are so many opportunities available to them whether they are academic, sporty or creative. My children have been so much more active and independent here. It feels really safe.

There have been new learning curves like cross country and swimming sports but they are getting better and better. It is easy to see why New Zealand has some of the best sporting teams in the world. They have been involved in rugby, soccer, basketball, surf lifesaving, school choir festivals, Kapa Haka, trash to fash, science fairs, school camp, music lessons, surfing, paddle boarding, lots of swimming, biscuiting on Lake Rotoiti and walking up the Mount. Well maybe they're not so keen on the last one!

How do you hold onto your Irish roots and family?

Facetime is a necessity. I talk to my sister and parents a few times every week and also my best friend in LA. I will always miss my home, my friends and family, and cosy pubs with good Guinness, but we are very happy here. It's a wonderful lifestyle and sunshine is so good for the soul.


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

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