Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Aucklanders & Other Kiwis Blog

David Altena | Building a House and Life in Tauranga
11 April 2017
David Altena | Building a House and Life in Tauranga

In Auckland, David and Katrina Altena lived to work.

They were spending a third of their income on the mortgage, up to two thousand dollars a month on daycare and it wasn’t unusual for David to spend two hours in traffic each day. Getting the mortgage paid was the top priority and their lives became a constant rush.

Back when the pair met in 2008, they had a shared goal of moving to Tauranga one day. Seven years later, it seemed that day had come. They took advantage of the skyrocketing Auckland housing market and sold the 1960s bungalow they had spent years renovating, using the earnings to purchase a plot of land in Tauranga. They rented a house in Auckland while they built a new house on their spacious section in Ohauiti.

In November 2016, when the house was ready, the Altenas moved down to Tauranga where great jobs, less traffic and a friendly neighbourhood promptly became their new normal.    

David, what drew you to Tauranga?

My family moved to Tauranga when I was nine and I always looked forward to returning here with my family one day.

We saw Tauranga as a better option than Auckland; it’s smaller but still has a lot of the amenities of a larger city. There is a great café culture, beautiful beaches and plenty of outdoor activities nearby. We were drawn to the slower pace of life and not having to spend at least 30 minutes travelling to do anything.

It's also great to have both our families nearby. My mother has been living here since the nineties; Katrina's parents moved down in November of 2015. We recognize that there could be a level of care for both our parents as they get older and that factored into our decision to relocate here. 

What was it like building a house in Tauranga whilst living in Auckland?

We decided to rent a house in Auckland while we built our home in Tauranga. Though finding a rental was a challenge – there were four of us, two dogs, a budgie and three fish – renting was great. After years of home renovations, all we had to do was mow the lawn which allowed us to focus on our house build in Tauranga.

Being remote from the build was stressful because we didn’t receive an adequate level of feedback from the company we had engaged to do our build. Being far away meant we missed out on a lot of the little moments you have when you can just drive up to the section and take a look.

What was the best part of building your own house?

Despite the challenges, building our own house was incredibly exciting! Comparing our two houses is like chalk and cheese. Our old house was small and we had to wipe the condensation off the windows every morning in winter. Our new home in Ohauiti is 230 square metres and we often can’t find each other in the house! It is well insulated, double-glazed, there’s a double garage, an easy-care section and it drains well after rain. It’s everything our old house was not.

We didn’t know our neighbours in Auckland; now our children have eight other kids around the same age nearby. The children are often all together at one of the neighbourhood homes.

How did you and your wife find job hunting in Tauranga?

I was lucky – I saw an advertised opportunity for Vo2 and didn’t spend a lot of time looking for a job. Everything pretty much fell into place.

Katrina spent our first summer focusing on getting us settled in and taking care of the kids over the holidays. She has an accounting background and a wealth of experience, including working for Samsung. When the kids went back to school, local recruitment agency Talent ID placed Katrina quickly into her current role at Property Managers Group.

Our experience finding roles was very straightforward, but we appreciate that this is not the norm. I thought it would take around six months searching for the right fit, while Katrina thought it could take the better part of a year.

Can you tell us about your role at Vo2?

Vo2 provides a vibrant alternative to traditional IT providers and approaches. We allows clients to re-imagine a new IT style which addresses the unique needs of organisations that operate regionally yet trade in a global market. 

My role is a senior client engagement manager, which is all about building our brand within the business community and working with current and prospective customers to establish their digital requirements and deliver on those needs. Now more than ever, people look online to grow their businesses and it’s important that they have the right things in place. That ranges from devices, software and security all the way to web-presence and leveraging available online capabilities, such as the Cloud, mobility, e-commerce, social media and online marketing.

As a company, we champion #digitalthinking and support #digitaldisruption and have strong ties to regional New Zealand with offices around the North Island.

What do you enjoy about your role?

The people, the culture, the team and the depth of capability within our organization. We have 74 team members and growing. Unlike a lot of companies, Vo2 doesn’t oversell and under-deliver. We know we can sell the products, services and solutions that our customers are after and we have a team that can deliver.

How does Tauranga’s business culture compare to Auckland’s?

In Tauranga, there is a bigger focus on who you know rather than being able to trade off brand or organisational reputation.

There are great networking opportunities available. I recently got connected to Priority One who are very helpful for building networks and local connections.

What has surprised you about Tauranga?

Nothing is more than ten minutes away. We love the proximity and ease of fun stuff – the beach, cycle trails, dining options, visiting friends or just staying home and hanging out.

Both our kids love it here. They have friends their age in our neighbourhood and, while their school, Maungatapu Primary, is a lot bigger than their previous school, it’s been good for them and they’ve fit in easily here.

There is less traffic but people aren’t as considerate on the roads here. Merging or turning out of a side street is not very easy as people don’t tend to let you in.

What has moving to Tauranga meant for your…


The ability to be part of two great companies and see a future where we both can develop our skills and careers and become part of the wider community.


A lower mortgage, more financial security and we no longer send all our money straight to the bank.


Less time in traffic means more time for us to spend as a family and to enjoy the things we want to do. We aren’t constantly rushing around anymore. We all love the move and don’t miss Auckland on a day-to-day basis. We can always go back for Rainbows End or a Guns and Roses concert…the funny thing is, we’re more likely to do those things now that we don’t live there!


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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