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Tauranga Welcomes You!

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David Bell of Oriens Capital on Investing in the Regions | A Tauranga Sea-change Story
25 January 2017
David Bell of Oriens Capital on Investing in the Regions | A Tauranga Sea-change Story

David Bell, CFO of Oriens Capital, talks about moving home to New Zealand, choosing a new life in Tauranga and investing in the regions.

When you're a Kiwi expat with small-town heart, but a big-city job, returning home usually means starting your repatriate life in Auckland. And that’s exactly what David Bell did. But it didn’t take long for David and his family to realise that Auckland was a mere stepping stone to the good life in Tauranga.

A Gizzy boy through and through, when David left university he wanted to experience the world. After paying his dues and becoming a chartered accountant at KPMG in Auckland, his company transferred him to the far east. David spent two eye-opening and enriching years in Moscow before heading west to London, where he climbed the corporate ladder, met his wife, Sara, and started a family.   

They relocated to Auckland to raise their three young children as Kiwis, but a few years in, the Bell's felt they were falling short on the Kiwi dream. Auckland was too busy; Gisborne was too isolated; there must be somewhere in the middle…

It was on a pit-stop halfway between Auckland and Gisborne that David and Sara “saw the light”.

Tauranga revealed itself as the perfect locale: a great geographical location, perfect city size, a family-friendly lifestyle, and all in front of a beautiful, beachy backdrop.

Upon moving to Tauranga, David drew on his wealth of experience in private equity funds, discovered Tauranga’s collaborative networking scene, and secured a coveted role as the CFO for newly created investment fund, Oriens Capital.

This is his story.

Did you always intend to come back to New Zealand?

My wife (who is English) and I were perfectly happy living in England and it wasn’t until having children that we started thinking about how much better the quality of family life could be here. We met in 2000 (at 3am in a nightclub in Leicester Square, not exactly where you would imagine meeting your future wife!) and had a few fabulous years living in London.

We moved back to Sara’s home town in Hertfordshire in 2006 when we had our first child, which was great because we were close to her family, but meant I had over an hour commute each way into London for work.

The long hours working at an investment bank and relentless commute were not ideal for family life and meant I often didn’t interact with our two young boys much during the week.

What was the catalyst for coming home?

In 2010 I was approached by an ex-colleague with a job offer in Auckland, and, with our oldest boy almost school age, we decided it could be a good opportunity for our family.

A big part of our decision to come back from the UK was to enjoy the wide-open spaces and natural beauty that New Zealand has to offer, and to own a house and section with plenty of room for our three kids to enjoy growing up.

What drew you to Tauranga?

Whilst we enjoyed living in Auckland and had many great friends there, having both hailed from smaller towns we never considered ourselves “Aucklanders”, and with its increasing busyness and rampant house price inflation, we didn’t feel like we were achieving the vision we had set ourselves when moving back from the UK. So we started thinking about how we could achieve a better lifestyle outside of Auckland and set about finding the ideal place.

The more we thought about it, the more we were convinced that Tauranga was the place we had been searching for, so we took the plunge, bought a house and moved down in mid 2015.

Did you find a job before you moved down?

We had already come to the conclusion that Tauranga would be a great environment for our kids to grow up in, so without having jobs to come to, we just backed ourselves and moved down.

Being located down here, and actively networking from day one, helped me make connections and I soon became involved in a concept to form a local private equity fund, which evolved into the recently established Oriens Capital.

Oriens Capital is a new private equity fund, the first of its kind to be raised outside of the major centres, and is focussed on investing in mid-sized companies in regional New Zealand. The concept resonated well with people locally and we received great support from the Bay of Plenty investing community. We set ourselves a target to raise a minimum fund size of $30m and achieved over $50m.

Having now completed the fundraising phase, we’re turning our attention to making investments, and have a pipeline of good quality opportunities.

What growth potential do you see for businesses in regional New Zealand?

I have a natural affiliation to regional New Zealand, having grown up in Gisborne. I believe there is a lot of good quality businesses with potential which need capital and skills to grow but are perhaps overlooked because they’re not in the direct line of sight of the bigger centres.

Kiwi professionals often assume they will have to lower their career ambitions in order to enjoy the lifestyle benefits of the Bay. Do you think this is the case?

Tauranga might have had a reputation as being a sleepy town in the past, but that has changed and the town has many highly skilled people and thriving businesses. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of talent and level of business activity here, especially entrepreneurial type activity. 

How would you describe the Tauranga business scene?

The business environment in Tauranga is thriving and well supported by an increasing population, a good level of investment and generally strong economic momentum, and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon. Its geographic location, natural endowments and economic growth should ensure it will be a desirable business destination for many years to come.

The business community here is small relative to bigger centres, but I have found people to be very helpful and collaborative, which certainly opened doors and helped me find my opportunity.

What advice would you give to highly skilled professionals like yourself, considering a move to Tauranga?

I would say if you’re keen on a move to Tauranga, spend some time speaking to people who have made the move and, if you’re confident it will be a good move for you and your family, just back yourself and make it happen. Being on the ground here certainly helped me find my opportunity.

What do you and your family enjoy about living in Tauranga?

Probably the biggest thing we noticed when we moved to Tauranga was the ease of logistics – it’s never too far to drop off or pick up the kids, and living in central Tauranga (the Avenues) means I can walk to work in 10 minutes (or drive in 3!), meaning more room for family and recreational time.

Moving to Tauranga has helped us realise the vision we set ourselves when moving back from the UK in 2010: a great lifestyle and family life, superb climate and a beautiful environment to raise our children. 


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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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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