Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Kiwi Immigrants Blog

Liat Reis | Hello Club Says Hello to Tauranga
5 March 2019
Liat Reis | Hello Club Says Hello to Tauranga

Israeli-born, Liat Reis met her Netherlands-born husband-to-be, Adam, in Wanaka in 2006. They were both travellers, both software developers and they both fell in love with New Zealand as well as each other - though it was Adam who carried the vision of one day returning to New Zealand to live.

Five years later they moved to Wellington, which became their home for seven years and the launching pad for their start-up company, Hello Club.  

By 2017, they were ready for a different lifesytle.

They began dreaming of moving to a place where they could enjoy a more balanced lifestyle, whilst still running a successful business.  So, they did what any self-respecting, analytical, software developing couple would do - they set out on a roadie research trip with a spreadsheet in tow.  Each place they stayed in was logged and assessed according to the advantages and disavantages of the place.

Once they got to Tauranga, they knew they didn't need their spreadsheet any more.

This is their story.

Liat, can you give us a brief overview of your career?

I grew up in Israel, and graduated in Mathematics and Computer Science, before moving to New Zealand and starting my career as a junior software developer. Wellington was a great place to start in IT. I learnt heaps and got to meet lots of great people. After a few years I slowly shifted into freelance work and owning my own business.

Adam grew up in The Netherlands, where he completed a M. Sc. in Aerospace Engineering before embarking on a career in Software Development instead. Adam came for long visits in Israel during our first three years together before staying for a year and a half after he finished his master degree.

We actually met in Wanaka, while we were both travelling in New Zealand in 2005/06. That's pretty much when Adam decided he wanted to come back at some point to live in New Zealand. He was drawn to the outdoor life style, friendlier people and large amounts of nature and empty space when compared to The Netherlands. 

At first I didn't take it very seriously, but in the years that followed the idea proved to persist, and in 2011, we eventually made the move.

What were your first years in New Zealand like?

The first three months were spent (rather relaxingly) in Piha, where we helped a friend manage his hostel. I started looking for jobs, and we weren't quite sure where we would end up. 

As it turned out, I got a job offer in Wellington, so we packed up our car with all our belongings and drove south! Adam owned a software development company in the Netherlands, which kept him occupied for our first few years in Wellington, but later he also switched to freelancing and working on our own business. 

We lived in Wellington for about seven years, and started our company Hello Club just over three years ago.

Can you describe Hello Club in a nutshell?

Hello Club is an all-in-one solution to help clubs with their day-to-day management and admin tasks. It covers everything from membership management, subscription renewals, online payments to event management, bookings, and access control. We cater for small or large organisations, and small clubs can use our software for free. We know how hard it is to keep a club going with volunteers only, so we try to help where we can.

Where did the idea come from?

We joined the squash club in Upper Hutt and found that the processes of signing up new members, making bookings, etc. were all very cumbersome. We then volunteered to join the committee and because we are both software developers, we decided to build a system for them that would improve and automate many of these processes and management tasks. What started as a hobby, grew into a full grown startup business which now supports many clubs in New Zealand and abroad. 

When did you first start thinking about moving to Tauranga?

It would have been a couple of years ago. We started thinking about other areas in New Zealand that we would be happy living in. We were looking for a different lifestyle, to be able to spend more time outdoors, enjoy longer summers, spend less time in traffic and enjoy a smaller city feeling while still have everything we want and like nearby. We took a one month holiday to travel around the North Island looking for alternative places to live.

We went to nearly every city between Wellington and Auckland, and both of us being very analytical people, started a spreadsheet to compare what we liked and didn't like in each location. When we reached Tauranga we pretty much felt we didn't need the spreadsheet anymore.

We loved the vibe and feeling of the city, and it ticked all of the boxes.  We also loved the fact that Tauranga is very central, with easy access to other cities and travel destinations around the region.

After that trip, we started looking more seriously at when we could move. We came across Priority One when we were researching Tauranga as a place to live, and it helped us with the decision as it was encouraging to see an organisation dedicated to the business and economic development of the region.

What has Tauranga been like as a place to grow Hello Club in?

It's been better then what I hoped for!  We have more time now to work on the business, and we feel that the relationships we have with the startup ecosystem here have helped us a lot.

Connecting with Venture Centre and Basestation in Tauranga has been really great and valuable for us, and have also given us opportunity to volunteer our time back to the startup community. People are very friendly, supportive and genuinely interested to hear about our business and spread the word. We also enjoyed meeting the local clubs and supporting them with our software. I couldn't ask for more. 

What is your take on the local entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tauranga?

I think it has a very vibrant and active entrepreneurial ecosystem, plus excellent support from organisations like Venture Centre, Basestation, Priority One and the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce. People also seem very interested in entrepreneurship around here, more than I expected. I hope the ecosystem will keep growing yet maintain its current vibe.

We were mentors at Tauranga Startup Weekend in 2018. This is a fun, weekend event where participants form a team and learn-by-doing how to launch a business in 54 hours. We loved being able to help by mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs.

What has surprised you about Tauranga?

Our first winter was actually much milder than what we had imagined. I was also surprised at how small the degrees of separation seem to be here in Tauranga. Everyone seems to know each other, sometimes from the most surprising angles.

Being people who enjoy eating out, we though there might not be so many options here in Tauranga when compared to Wellington, but we've also been positively surprised by the amount, variety and quality of restaurants and food markets here.

What do you do for fun/to relax here?

Living here has definitely improved our wellbeing. We recently moved to a small lifestyle block in the Lower Kaimai, which has been absolutely amazing. We're living in a rural setting now, yet we are still closer to the city centre than what we were back in Wellington.

There is more time to spend here on doing the things you like, and the climate is magnificent. I'm looking forward to going to the beach more, learn paddle boarding, play squash and watch the sunsets from our deck. Adam is keen to do more tramping and explore the area by motorbike.


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


Ready for a better work/life balance in a vibrant, growing, sea-side city?

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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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