In 2004 my husband Sean (then fiancé) and I decided that after four years living overseas it was time to think about returning home. We had had an incredible time including some great work opportunities and had made the decision to buy a physio practice back in NZ. We looked into Hawkes Bay, Nelson and Tauranga as after two years in Ireland we were pretty keen to return to some sunshine and were keen on the lifestyle these areas could provide us with. After looking at a few practices we came across Bureta Physiotherapy which was at the time owned by a long-standing Tauranga physio named Trish MacKenzie who was getting ready to retire. Funny how things work out but after a few phone calls and emails we agreed that this was the one for us and on our travels home through South America we purchased the clinic sight unseen but confident that it was the right move for us. We had ten days between moving back to NZ and taking over the clinic which was a whirlwind – buying a car, finding a house to rent, organizing all that was needed to be a “grown up” in NZ as I left the day after I graduated. At the same time we were organizing our upcoming wedding so life was busy to say the least!
We took over the clinic in what was then the sleepy suburb of Bureta in the quiet retirement city of Tauranga. Wow what a different place it is now. There were a couple of part time physios that stayed on for a few months but other than that it was just me, some patients and lots of coffee breaks for hot chocolates and gossip mag reading at the gift shop that had opened up next door. We had green walls, hideous speckled carpet, the most uncomfortable bench seat in reception, bars on the treatment room windows, no air con in sight and one computer that was barely used as we still drew up columns in the diary every week for appointments but it was a brilliant place to begin this journey. Notes of course were all by hand and life was pretty “old school”. Whilst this was the case it was a great starting point in a handy location with some other new shops opening up alongside us – Simon from the Pharmacy was new too and the Doctors hadn’t long relocated from Brookfield. Marcel came on board in the new year and we have had the absolute privilege of having him as a senior part of our team ever since. Unbelievably over 15 years he seems to be the only one who hasn’t aged so he knows the secrets for sure.
Over the following 7 years the clinic grew steadily. I completed my Masters in Auckland and had three awesome kids and the challenges of a being a working Mum and a business owner began. We were lucky to have some steady staff members along with the new grads and young staff who have come and gone on their own journeys over the years. All of whom have taught me many things about being in business, being a boss and being part of a team. Over this time we outgrew our original clinic and needed more space. This is a little of the story of the last 15 years as over this time we have continued to outgrow our space and have been creative about how we solved these issues. Needless to say the clinic now is a far cry in many ways including physically from where it was in 2004.
In 2008 I started working with the NZ Blackferns and the following 9 years for me work wise were a mix of business, clinic and International Sports Physio opportunities. I loved every minute of it – the challenges, the learnings, the people and the experiences. I never could have imagined how much I would learn and grow both professionally and personally over this time. Thankfully with husband Sean, my Mum and an awesome family supporting me along the way. The NZ Womens Sevens programme grew and grew and it became obvious I could no longer be a lead International Sports Physio and a sole owner of a growing business despite the awesome staff we had onboard. It was time to look for help. One person came to mind and unbelievably as they say the rest is history. Blair and I went to University together 13 years earlier. We had not seen or spoken to each other since other than catching up at a conference but through social media I tracked him down hoping he might be keen to return home. Post the Christchurch earthquakes it was a turning point in his family’s life and after working through the process Blair came onboard heading back home with his wife Sheree and two young kids. Over the following years there were new things to learn. How to let go of solely holding the reins, how to maximise the talents and skills of someone else knowing they had strengths where I had weaknesses, compromise and above all communication. It has taught me so much more and the clinic would certainly not be where it is today without the partnership we have had over the past 7 years. We have been incredibly fortunate over this time also to develop an amazing team of senior staff both therapists and reception. A team who enjoy being challenged to remain leading edge, a team who enjoy time together inside and outside of work despite our differences and a team that love what they do and the satisfaction they get from seeing our patients achieve their goals, whether everyday activities or competing on the world stage. Blair and I are passionate about the evolution of our profession and are both involved in governance in Sports Physiotherapy in order to ensure we assist in the growth of our profession both locally and Nationally.
We have been through the global financial crisis and now the COVID pandemic. Both of these along with the regular shortage of experienced physiotherapists in NZ have challenged us without a doubt. What I have learnt from these situations in particular is that change is the only constant in life. We must grow and adapt if we are to survive and not only survive but thrive. As one of only a handful of Physiotherapy Specialists in NZ I am confident in my ability and the ability of our team to provide amazing care to our patients that is not solely focused on a reactive model of physio, which is the historical model in NZ but on a proactive model that focuses on the health and wellness of our community and how we can work to support and ensure they achieve their goals.
Originally from Tauranga and attending Otumoetai college, it was time to start University. Jacs and I initially met in the deep south of Otago when we began the scarfie days of our undergraduate physiotherapy degree. We graduated in 2000 both going different ways not knowing that in some years we would be back working together.
After Uni my journey took me to Christchurch working in Private practice with a sadly now departed Guru of Physiotherapy ( Graeme Nuttridge) including working with Canterbury Cricket and local rugby teams before heading off together with Sheree overseas to London. After five years in London Sheree and I decided to return home, coming to Christchurch and picking up where we left off with Canterbury Cricket and moving up through the ranks of Canterbury rugby with a promise to buy into what was at that time the South islands most extensive physiotherapy practice. After several events in Christchurch, including going through the canterbury earthquakes and the canterbury practice buy not coming to fruition it was becoming apparent life had other plans for Sheree and I. Jacs, and I met up at a conference, and a couple of months later I got a call from Jacs to consider moving back to Tauranga. Sheree and I with our two children decided to move North which at the time meant walking away from my positions in Canterbury Cricket and Rugby.
I started at Bureta Physio in 2013 and became a co-owner with Jacs the following year.
Management of physiotherapy practices is nothing that we get taught a University, and the jump from clinician to management is not to be underestimated. Luckily Jacs has been there and done (most) of it before. It didn’t take long until we fell into stride with understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We have managed to grow Bureta Physiotherapy to be the most extensive Physiotherapist practice under one roof in the Bay of Plenty. We offer a diverse range of not only physiotherapy but also health and wellness solutions for individuals and groups. Each year this business goes from strength to strength supported by our hardworking and dedicated team of clinicians and administrators. We are blessed as a clinic to have a great bunch of people working for us all as equally important in delivering on our clinic values. Jacs and I have the moto “work hard – play hard” and that’s what keeps the practice energetic and vibrant. When you walk through our door, you can feel the energy, and our vision was always to have a professional and dynamic health practice.
In 2017 Bureta Physiotherapy won the Customer services awards. “It takes a lot of bravery to go into business, continue in business and grow – sometimes against the odds – and then to enter something like the awards where you are putting yourself on the line and opening up your business to the scrutiny of outside judges and their feedback,” said awards co-ordinator Anne Pankhurst.
“These businesses are true heroes in our community, and we want to acknowledge them for their bravery in putting themselves forward, as well as their initiative.”
At present Bureta Physio has just under 20 staff. What the future holds for the practice is exciting. While we have been in COVID 19 lockdown the work has not stopped – out physiotherapists are all consulting virtually, and Jacs and I have been working on the new Bureta Physio business initiative. Stay tuned.
Below is a section of photo over the years.