From living at the Mount campground to becoming one of Tauranga’s top businesswomen, Sharon Hall of Bayleys Real Estate talks about her remarkable journey and her passion for the Mount.
WORDS DANIEL DUNKLEY / PHOTOS SALINA GALVAN
Sharon Hall lives and breathes Marine Parade. Pick a house and she can tell you about its history. Ask about a business and she knows the owner. Enquire about the landscape and she can give you the details.
“Decades ago when these Norfolk trees were tiny, the headmaster of the local primary school used to tie presents to them at Christmas,” she says, looking across to the Mount’s main beach from her home. “It’s such a special place to be at this time of year – in fact, all year round.”
Sharon calls Marine Parade home, and is also a leading property specialist in the area. Dotted with pristine properties and beach baches, the Mount to Papamoa is her preserve.
Every sun-soaked spot in this picturesque postcode means something to her. With an encyclopedic knowledge of the area, Sharon is a formidable businesswoman. A former nurse, she has invested in property throughout her life, learning from her parents, who scraped together all they had to invest in real estate when she was growing up in Matamata.
“My mother and father started with £10 and a motorbike,” she says. “My parents worked really hard. It was very ballsy of my mother to buy real estate, especially as a woman. Back then, women couldn’t even get a mortgage; the man had to do it. My father was more risk-averse.”
While working long hours as a nurse, Sharon took her mother’s advice and bought a block of four flats in Tauranga. In 1980, she forged a career as a real estate agent before changing direction into other businesses while she had small children. At that point, her life was turned upside down.
In the early 2000s, Sharon lost nearly everything following a divorce. She ended up without a home, living in a horse truck at the Mt Maunganui campground with her two daughters. She had just $40.
“I had nothing. I ended up in the horse truck with the girls, and owed $70,000 to a lawyer,” she says, pointing down the road to the campsite. “We went from living in a beachfront home to living like that. It was actually a relief, because I couldn’t lose anything else.”
Back at square one, times were tough. But the experience gave her empathy and a strong resolve to provide for her children.
“I eventually sold the horse truck and went back into real estate in 2005. I was one of Bayleys’ top agents for five years. And I went on from there.”
Since 2005, Sharon has earned her place at Bayleys and worked her way back to the top, buying an apartment in the Mount, before moving to a basic house on Marine Parade. Now, her traditional white bach is, she says, the perfect spot to watch people having genuine heartfelt fun for absolutely no cost.
After overcoming adversity in her life, Marine Parade will always hold a special significance. She believes it is a privilege to live here. “The Mount is quite spiritual – it’s my tūrangawaewae,” she says. “It’s the ultimate playground. It’s such a fantastic investment. I believe in the product.”
At Bayleys, Sharon has played a huge part in some of the biggest real estate deals in Mt Maunganui. The waterfront has become one of the most sought-after locations in the country,and she has seen it develop and grow in stature.
She says north-facing, beachfront property is one of the Mount’s key attributes, making it increasingly valuable: “It’s paradise,” she says. “It’s a limited product. It’s like the ultimate diamond; there’s no more of this land left.”
While playing a role in Marine Parade’s development, Sharon has also helped to preserve pieces of its past. In 2015, she bought the Mount’s iconic pink bach at the top of Marine Parade, saving it from a fate unknown. The bach was craned over to her section where it still sits today. “I couldn’t have it going anywhere else,” she adds.
After building her life and livelihood in Mt Maunganui, Sharon is excited about the area’s future. As holiday homes give way to residential properties on the beachfront, new restaurants, bars and businesses attract a new generation of visitors.
Yet the Mount’s natural beauty will always remain the main attraction, she says. “It’s synonymous with holidays and having fun. People don’t come here to spend money. They come to enjoy the surroundings. I’m always amazed by how many people pack their bags to come here.”
Marine Parade has played a special role in Sharon’s life so far. After the roller coaster journey to her own slice of paradise, it’s clear she wouldn’t swap the location for anywhere else in the world. “It’s like being on holiday 24/7,” she says. “To me, it’s just heaven on earth.”