Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Kiwi Immigrants Blog

Louis Bolton of Blue Chilli | Focussing a Creative Lens on Tauranga
12 March 2019
Louis Bolton of Blue Chilli | Focussing a Creative Lens on Tauranga

Louis Bolton loves telling stories through photography and film. Despite having an amazing freelance career in South Africa, the increasingly tense national climate eventually became a catalyst for change for Louis and his family.

His wife, Bridgette, had long had a desire for a life-changing move, so when Louis also became convinced that it was time to design a new life in a new place,  the couple set their sights on New Zealand. Thanks to a job-offer in Tauranga, they were able to achieve that often elusive golden ticket, a working visa, and they packed up their life and arrived in the Bay of Plenty in September 2018.

Upon arriving, they were shocked to be informed that Louis' job offer was off the table due to a lack of funding.  Cast back upon his courage, creativity and connection-building skills, Louis re-grouped and  found his way into full time employment as Director of Photography at Blue Chilli - a boutique communications agency in Tauranga.

Despite their rocky landing, Louis and his family are enjoying the beauty of the adventure and the deeper connection it has forged between them.

This is Louis's story.

Louis, what are the main plot points of your career story so far?

I started out as a runner for a television company many years ago and worked my way through the ranks to become a multi-cam studio director. I had the opportunity to help set up and run a studio for CNBC Africa in the early 2000’s, which taught me a lot. I then decided to freelance as a director, cinematographer and editor.

I’ve been amazingly fortunate in my career. I've met great people and had the opportunity to do good work. I've had the honor of working with Nelson Mandela and Lance Armstrong, two men I respect so much. I‘ve worked with big South African corporates, banks, and motor vehicle manufacturers, creative agencies, film companies and local not-for-profit organizations.

I've filmed wildlife, feature length films, sports events, off-road vehicle expeditions, documentaries and so on.

Most recently I was incredibly lucky to work with my wife on a major car brand, where we would create upliftment projects in poverty stricken communities in and around Southern Africa that gave the local residents an opportunity to make a difference to their lives and those of the entire community. I would then film mini-documentaries which we shared with corporate South Africa as well as further afield. 

When did you and your family first start thinking about moving to New Zealand?

It’s no big secret that there is a level of uncertainty in South Africa at the moment. The energy can be very overwhelming and quite frenetic and I came to the realization that I was no longer resonating with what was, and still is, going on there. 

My wife has always been keen to travel and she'd been thinking about a life-changing move for a while. I was a little slower to respond to the challenge but once I did,  we made the move to New Zealand very quickly.  We came for a visit in March 2018, and moved in September. I desired a better lifestyle for my wife and two daughters (one of which is of the four-legged variety)!

What appealed to you about Tauranga?

Tauranga seemed like the perfect place for me to redeisgn our life without having to worry about whether I had the right contacts, or was the right color or gender. I sought an opportunity to live my life in balance and harmony, to create great work and continue to inspire and be inspired.

The opportunities for growth in Tauranga are huge, there is an emerging film market that is rich with talent and opportunity and that level of the game is where I want to play. The appeal in this city is that it is small, easily accessible, absolutely gorgeous and full of amazing people.

Can you describe your experience of looking for work here?

Prior to arriving, I had received a job offer to direct documentaries for a small company in Tauranga, which enabled me to obtain a work visa. However, when we arrived in September, I was told that the documentaries that I had been recruited to direct had been canceled and therefore, so had the position. That was a massive shock! To have traveled half way across the globe and then be told that I was no longer employed really rocked us to the core. 

I had to start again. I called any contact I could uncover. Every single encounter was a positive one; regardless of whether someone was able to offer assistance, I was always warmly greeted, treated with dignity and offered some advice.

How did your role with Blue Chilli come about?

I made contact with Blue Chilli, very casually, when we first came to New Zealand on holiday in early 2018. The gentleman who runs it was also born in South Africa, so we had some common ground. He was one of the first people I called when the bombshell was dropped by my previous employer.

He indicated straight away that there might be some opportunity to work together. I think they recognized that I had filming skills that they could use to grow their business, and that together we could do good work, creating great documentaries and finding opportunities to film wherever possible. 

What is your role at Blue Chilli and what do you enjoy about it?

Blue Chilli is a boutique communication agency based in Tauranga. There is a strong marketing component to the business which flows beautifully into photography and videography.

I have been freelancing for so long that having permanent employment now is something to get used to, however I enjoy the possibilities that working with this team brings. I am Director of Photography, looking after all the videography and documentary needs of the business. First and foremost, I am a creative, with a passion for creating documentaries that connect with people's emotions. So I am obviously always on the look-out for these kinds of projects. Telling a story is key. 


We’re sticking close to the guys from Bay of Plenty Film because we know that amazing content is going to be produced and that’s what gets my creative juices going! We’ve also recently started a new service offering to the Real Estate market. We have video/photography packages tailored to agents needs. Its an exciting new business venture.

What stands out to you about Tauranga?

Where to start! First of all, things just work. It’s clean. My little girl can ride her bike safely to school, the parks are open and gorgeous.  The council maintain everything so well here - it's a great pleasure to enjoy the outdoors. Everything is so accessible.

What do you love about living and working here?

We feel safe. We enjoy the outdoors and we take our four-legged pooch almost everywhere with us. There are so many parks, cycle paths, walks and lakes that I don’t even think we’ve scratched the surface of what is available. We go somewhere new every weekend. We love going to all the different beaches and estuaries. We love the markets, the coffee shops, the galleries.

I love how friendly people are. I love that I can cycle to work and feel totally safe. I love that I can take a walk to the estuary to eat my lunch every day and then get back to the office feeling fresh and clear-headed.

What has been challenging about the transition?

Moving from a farm in the KwaZulu Midlands to a city in The Bay of Plenty comes with a lot of adjustment. I still have to get used to the fact there are no burglar bars on windows!!

Initially, the lack of a family support structure was tough. We had to rely on each other as a family which has obviously brought us much closer. There is an initial challenge in getting out there and meeting new people and settling into a community that is very different to South Africa.  We know that there is a journey ahead, which we will tackle one step at a time.

What advice would you give to newcomers or prospective migrants to Tauranga?

Keep an open mind. Talk to people who live here. Read the excellent stories on this website. Tauranga is a brilliant place to live and work and raise a family.

What has moving to Tauranga meant:

For your career? Opportunity and freedom

For your wellbeing ? Emotional space to be creative without worrying about so many other things.

For your relationships? My wife and I are stretching new emotional muscles together here. We have found so much strength in each other.


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

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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