Happiness is living in Bay even on low pay

By Nick Bosma

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Most of Hawke's Bay's 155,400 inhabitants should be miserable, according to a recent study, but the Bay's people paint a different picture.

Recent research gathered over 12 years says an income of $100,000 is a requirement for true happiness, while the average Hawke's Bay salary, according to seek.co.nz, is just $61,323.

Tukituki MP and Minister of Commerce Craig Foss said Hawke's Bay was full of opportunities and more families should come to live here.

"First and foremost, people from Auckland should move to Hawke's Bay for awesome opportunities," he said.

"What's most important is after-tax wages which have increased in the last five years, as well as [the] lowest mortgage rates in 30 years, which help our families in the Bay."

Census 2006 showed under 5 per cent of Bay people aged 15 or older earned $100,001 or more in 2006.

Pastor Bruce Collingwood, of Oasis Church in Napier, said he approached the topic from a Christian viewpoint, rather than a financial one: "Ultimately, to me, happiness is concentrated in a personal relationship with our creator God."

Census 2006 showed 52 per cent of Hawke's Bay people were affiliated with a Christian religion.

Money could bring happiness to some degree, but so could a blue sky, exercise, and a sunny day, Mr Collingwood said.

Joy went deeper than happiness, and even people who were momentarily unhappy could still be joyful, he said.

"Joy comes out of the depths of who you are."

He had known unhappy people who made more than $100,000 per year, and happiness could often be environmental and momentary.

"Everyone needs money, certainly, $100,000 will make you happy ... for awhile. [It's] certainly not permanent. True happiness comes out of your spirit, from our connection with God."

Hastings Budget Advisory Service co-ordinator Greta Wham said a workable budget was important, whatever the income, for peace of mind.

"From our perspective, it's not possible to come up with a ballpark income figure for living happily," she said.

"But what we do know from working here is that lack of sufficient money, or not understanding money management, can make people unhappy.

"Good money management, whatever the income, can make the most of what there is. And a workable budget can give peace of mind. I don't know whether that's happiness or not, but that's what our clients tell us.

"Clients often tell us how relieved they feel when we've drawn up a workable budget for them."

Napier Family Centre spokeswoman Kath Curran said: "We don't have any gauge on whether a certain income can bring happiness and suspect the answer to happiness is far more complex than a dollar figure."

Meaningful relationships were key, because loneliness and isolation could result in depression or make it that much tougher to cope with life's curve balls.

"Each family will have its own aspirations and values."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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