From Spain with Love

How two Spanish scientists fell in love, with Tairāwhiti Gisborne.

When Spanish scientists Dr Alvaro Vidiella-Salaberry and Irene Lopez-Ubiria arrived in Tairāwhiti Gisborne with their four children in 2016, it was the New Zealand they had dreamed of: warm, welcoming and peaceful. 

At work at Riversun

At work at Riversun

There are, of course, many differences between life in Spain and life in Tairāwhiti Gisborne. They miss their families the most – though Alvaro’s parents visited over Christmas in 2016 and Irene’s brother has already visited twice.

But most of the differences are welcome. No traffic congestion, for one thing, and they absolutely love New Zealand apples, with so many varieties to choose from. When the family visits Tairāwhiti Gisborne's Farmer’s Market every Saturday they leave with five bags of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The differences extend to work too. As scientists, or ‘agronomist/agricultural engineers’, Irene and Alvaro felt stifled in Spain. The rich cultural history of their country was beautiful but it hampered growth, with long-held traditions restraining them from new ways of doing things.

They also wanted their children to experience a different upbringing and education system so began to look at countries that offered these things as well as a better fit for them professionally.

So from their home in Cordoba – in the South of Spain – they began to look online at other countries and jobs available.

They particularly loved New Zealand for the environment, the work culture and ethics, its low population density. It looked like a great place to raise a family.

They have found, as they had hoped, that this is a country more accepting of change and creativity.

Today the couple both work at Riversun in Gisborne. Alvaro is the technical director and Irene is the agronomy manager for Linnaeus. 


We’re very happy here. And with the activity in Riversun it is very exciting.