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Saima Anis of Trustpower | Why I Love the Community Feel in Tauranga
27 April 2020
Saima Anis of Trustpower | Why I Love the Community Feel in Tauranga

Saima Anis and her family moved from London to Tauranga from London in 2013. After running a cupcake business for 18 months, Saima returned to her accountancy career, securing a role as as Financial Accountant at Trustpower.  

Despite homesickness in the early years, Saima put down roots in Tauranga, helped in no small part by the natural beauty of the region. But her relationship with her new home deepened in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attack in March, 2019.  

As a Muslim woman, Saima was moved by the Tauranga community's outpouring of support. She penned an open letter to express her grief and gratitude, which was shared multiple times on Facebook and published by the Bay of Plenty Times.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis of a different kind, Saima took time during lockdown to reflect on her experience of moving to Tauranga, her career story and her hopes for a strong recovery for the city she has come to love.

Saima, first things first. How has lockdown life been for you?

I have been lucky to keep my job and I have not had much change in my working day as we are able to work from home. There is additional responsibility with the children’s schooling from home so there is a bit of a juggle.

In some ways, the lockdown has given us some special family time. It has also given more time to connect with people from around the world through Zoom and to pursue some old hobbies. It certainly has given us time to reflect on which direction our life is heading and to gauge what is important to us in these times of need.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in the UK and moved to Pakistan when I was six weeks old. My dad is also an accountant and got a job in Africa, so we moved to Malawi for three years and then back to Pakistan. I migrated to the UK when I was 16 and lived in London.

How do you feel about being in New Zealand during this time?  

Having family in the UK, USA, Pakistan and the Middle East and hearing horror stories from people there, I think we are very privileged to be here. New Zealand, through it's leadership, has dealt remarkably well with the crisis. As steps were taken in time to squash the virus, I am hoping that we will be better placed to ease restrictions sooner than other places in the world.

How did you career story begin?

I did a degree in Chemistry and Management in London. I then went on to do my ACCA (certified chartered accountant) and worked at PWC briefly. I then held contract roles with Sony, Exxon and a big dairy company in the UK.

I thought I would be in England for life, but you never know when life may take an unexpected turn.

What brought you to New Zealand?  

Both my husband, Saad and I were in busy roles in London and were raising a young family at the same time.  We felt like we needed a break, needed to make a change. Before we had children, we had done a round the world trip in which we had visited New Zealand. When my husband thought about moving, New Zealand seemed a good option and also relatively easy to move to.

My husband went to a trade fair in London where he met representatives from New Zealand. He mentioned his interest to them and within a week he had a job interview for a position in Tauranga.

What was your experience of looking for work in Tauranga like?

When I first moved here, I was keen to try something that I had never done before, as it was a time for many firsts. I established a buttercream cupcake company and had fun creating new recipes and designing cakes.

I found it to be a very lonely job though, and being a people’s person was keen to start working as part of a team again. It took me six months before I found a role. It was difficult at first, not having New Zealand work experience on my CV, but Trustpower gave me the opportunity to join their team as a Financial Accountant and I have been with them for four and a half years.  

The Trustpower team is a fantastic bunch of people and I enjoy learning from them in both a professional and personal capacity.

What does your role as Financial Accountant at Trustpower involve?

It involves monthly reporting and it can get pretty busy around the end of financial year end, as it does for most companies. It is a role that involves interaction with people and also the flexibility to move into different projects.

I have also been through a nine month leadership course here, which has taken me down avenues for design transformation, organisational change, facilitation and mentoring. I was involved in the business readiness space for launching an organisational wide new system which though challenging, was fun.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about moving to Tauranga?

I think Tauranga is a great place to be. It has grown considerably in the time that I have been here and there is plenty to do. It is a great place if you like nature and the outdoors.

I love going up and round the Mount as well as walking on the beach. Tauranga also has a vibrant café culture and there are some great cafes and eateries here.

How long did it take for Tauranga to feel like it was home?

Tauranga was a huge change from London. I did struggle initially, but I fell in love with Tauranga.  Being a nature lover helped. Every time I felt even slightly homesick, I drove myself to the Mount and always felt lucky to have such beauty on my doorstep.

As a Muslim woman, experiencing the local community response to the Christchurch mosque shootings was a significant moment for me. I found Tauranga to be an amazing place at that time. I had random people come up to me wanting to help out, offering condolences and just wanting to let us know that they were there for us.

My workplace was amazing. There were so many people who came up to offer support and help in any way they could. I had an anonymous person send me flowers and I really appreciated their thoughts. I had people at work attend vigils with me and people who came to the prayers held too. Tauranga really felt like a special place. I really value the community feel here.

I felt moved to write one morning to process it all. After sharing it on Facebook, it was then published as an open letter by the Bay of Plenty Times. This has led to opportunities to be part of the conversation around diversity initiatives in Tauranga. I was also asked to write a follow up piece for the newspaper at the one year anniversary of the attack.

What gives you hope for Tauranga’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis?

I am very hopeful that we will come out of this crisis. I believe that this has impacted  people in different ways and people have  differing coping mechanisms to deal with a crisis. I think it very important to be very mindful of the economic and psychological impact this has had on families and it is really important to be kind and understanding in these circumstances.

I also think things will change now and there will be a new normal and we will all embrace that in different ways. For me, I will try and hang on to the things that I valued when I had more time and to be grateful for the good things that I have in my life and make more space to reflect and be grateful.

What has moving to Tauranga meant:

For your career? Opportunities to embrace and develop new skills. 

For your wellbeing? I have become a lot more outdoorsy. I regularly climb the mount and go on treks with my family.

For your relationships? More time with my nuclear family. My husband is also less busy here, which means we have more time to raise the kids together.


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