Oamaru businesswoman Natalie Evans likes to fly under the radar, both personally and in business.
So it may come as a surprise to some that she is the managing director of Oamaru-based Anaro Investments, which specialises in commercial property investment, and chief executive of Bella Vista Accommodation, founded by her late husband, Ian Little, who died in 2012.
Ms Evans was born in Mosgiel and educated at Taieri College, before studying at the University of Otago.
At the time, she did not think she would end up in the business world.
“I thought I would be a teacher at first, but wasn’t accepted into teachers’ college so I went into commerce.
“Business is different every day and I love it. I want to achieve now so I can give back more – this career has helped me.”
After she completed her studies, she worked briefly as an accountant in Auckland before heading to England, where she worked in Wimbledon until 1989.
She returned to Auckland and worked for global accountancy firm Ernst & Young before she relocated to Oamaru 23 years ago to settle with Mr Little.
“We wanted to come back south and have a family, and it’s closer to Mum in Mosgiel. I love it; I wouldn’t want to be in a city.”
Oamaru had much to offer, which was one of the reasons Mr Little founded Anaro in the town, she said.
“Ian started Anaro Investments, so I joined him in that.”
The investment group consists of two main components – Anaro Holdings Ltd and Anaro Investments Ltd.
Anaro Holdings is responsible for buying properties and arranging securities, while Anaro Investments is responsible for day-to-day management.
The Bella Vista Accommodation chain, which has 27 locations nationwide, was founded through Anaro.
“Ian travelled a lot and he came to appreciate consistency, familiarity and similarity. After a long day, it’s those things you crave . . . so the idea of a network of motels all sharing the same brand was born.”
Ms Evans is also on the Observatory Hill Retirement Village Trust.
The trust will oversee construction of a $21million facility, manage the health-care services it will offer and decide how any operational surpluses will be used to boost other health needs in the district.
She said while she appreciated not everyone supported the project, particularly the decision by the Waitaki District Council to invest several million dollars in it, she believed it was positive for the region.
“I understand people are scared, perhaps of the numbers and what the council have loaned. This opportunity to have a lifestyle village for the community, I think, will help for generations to come and has already helped the community.
“As a community, we have to embrace things like this … It’s offered around the rest of the country, so why not Oamaru?”
Ms Evans encouraged people to “do a few accounting papers”, if they could.
“I also think there should be a greater focus on money starting at primary school. Kids love playing shops and the next step of count-back change should be taught. Computers that do the job for us are a useful tool, but we also need to know how to do it.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: “With an impressive head for business and her feet planted firmly in this community, Natalie has an extensive property investment portfolio.” – Melanie Tavendale