Pato Alvarez roamed the streets for seven weeks — looking for a job during the day and a place to sleep when night fell.

He was 19. He couldn't speak English, and he was homeless.

It was April 2006, and he had arrived in New Zealand from his homeland, Chile, where he had been studying agriculture.

He planned to secure work in the kiwifruit industry in the Western Bay for what was to be a working holiday.


"I heard New Zealand was safe; I heard it was beautiful," Alvarez said.

In just a few weeks he had spent all of the money he had saved for his overseas experience.

He was in a foreign country with no friends or family, no money, no job and no idea how long he would have to live without an income.

He would set up a tent about midnight and get up before light to pack up and start his day to look for work.

The peak summer period was over. No one was hiring.

He ate a lot of fruit from nearby trees and $1 loaves of bread.

Despite all the hardships, he knew one thing: He wanted to stay.

Alvarez spent seven weeks walking between Mount Maunganui, Pukehina and Te Puke looking for work in the kiwifruit industry. He approached every orchard he could find and relied on body language and hand gestures to express his desire to work. Still no luck.

"I was almost ready to give up," Alvarez said.

Alvarez, now 31, describes those desperate times as "the best thing that happened to me".

"I appreciate every little thing; I will always remember those days.

"Life can be good; life can be bad ... it's up to you. I was on the street; I was always positive."

Today, he is the man behind some of New Zealand's biggest music festivals, bringing international artists to Tauranga and New Zealand to perform for appreciative crowds.

But this is no overnight success story — it took years of hard graft, big dreams and significant risks to achieve his goals.

His first break came after a Paengaroa local offered him board and food and helped him get a job in an orchard.

He learned to pay bills and to live within his means — a principle that sticks with him to this day.

Once he had a job, his next goal was to "learn the language".

"I was walking around with my dictionary."

There is no doubt Alvarez is persistent.

"I had to fight for my opportunities.

"I never give up; I keep hustling. I can wait, but I don't take no for an answer."

He worked in the kiwifruit industry for about a year before looking for a new job.

Alvarez admits working "normal" jobs and hours isn't for him. "I couldn't fit in that box."

He decided to follow his passions — music, fun, and events — and went searching.

He began small: Organising parties and events before DJing at nightclubs and organising club events.

He met others working in the industry and musicians and started booking tours.

He loved the nightlife and the sense of fun.

"I've always liked to have a good time."

At the age of 21, he spotted a young woman at a nightclub. Her name was Monique and for "some reason she liked me", Alvarez says.

Family is important to Tauranga-based event promoter Pato Alvarez, pictured with his wife Monique and sons Alexander, 8, and Camilo, 2. Photo/John Borren
Family is important to Tauranga-based event promoter Pato Alvarez, pictured with his wife Monique and sons Alexander, 8, and Camilo, 2. Photo/John Borren

Within three weeks, they were living together. Ten years on the couple are married and have two children — Alexander, 8, and Camilo, 2.

The couple would like more children and Alvarez hoped one day one of his children would follow in his footsteps.

He credits his wife for much of his success.

Alvarez is a dreamer. He sets his goals high, pictures it and makes things happen — even when others doubt him.

"I love that people can tell me I can't do it.

"You can be a dreamer and a visionary but you have to go for it."

One of those goals was to own a nightclub, and after promoting events and running Temple Bar and Colosseum Bar, which later combined to become the Bay's first four-room superclub named Illuminati, he bought a bar in Rotorua called Heaven & Hell where he continued to host performers.
"I always think big.

"Even my friends used to laugh at me. The only one who used to believe in me was my wife."

He now promotes about 200 concerts a year, holds events around New Zealand, Australia, Rarotonga, and Samoa.

He said in the early days, he "was losing more than I was winning", but if people were enjoying themselves, he saw it as a success.

And that's the same philosophy he applies today.

"I've lost it all, but I made sure everybody got paid.

"That was my priority."

When Alvarez set up Bay Dreams, with business partner Mitch Lowe, it attracted a crowd of about 5000 people.

Last year, 25,000 people from around the country converged on Tauranga to attend the event.

He has a key team of six or seven people working all year round, but when it comes to festival time, he creates hundreds of jobs in Tauranga each year.

"We work really hard. I've met such beautiful people."

"I'm building something for my family. My wife jokes that's why I want more children, so there's more likelihood one of them will take over my business."

Another reason comes from his childhood.

"I grew up with a small family.

"I don't want my kids to feel [they are] by themselves."

He is committed to being "the best father" he can be.

"My main focus is to keep them humble and teach them good manners."

Alvarez loves hosting Chilean barbecues at home with friends, taking the jet skis out on the water, walking up Mauao, taking his children to the beach and listening to music.

It's the simple things, he says, that make a happy existence.

"I'm super happy. I have everything I always wanted, like my beautiful family."

However, he still has dreams to chase.

Eventually, he wants to set up a child-focused charity and move towards a career as a politician.

"I like to help kids. I see the kids as the future, assisting kids now [means] the future's going to be brighter.

"I believe anyone can do whatever they want to if it's in their mind.

"You need to visualise what you want. Otherwise, you'll never get there."

But to make those dreams become a reality, Alvarez knows he has to be focused and to surround himself with good people.

Last year, a judge convicted Alvarez on three assault charges relating to an incident in Queenstown.

He regrets what happened and says he has learned from it.

"Like everyone, I make mistakes. But I make sure I move forward and learn from them."

He now focuses on being stress free in order to achieve his goals.

"If my house is not good, everything else breaks."

Positive vibes equal a positive life — something Alvarez strongly believes.

He donates to multiple charities, organises free community events, including the Arataki Day Out, which this year saw 1500 children come together to enjoy a day of music, food, and activities.

Pato Alvarez hopes one of his children will take over his business in the future. He is pictured with his two sons Camilo, 2, and Alexander, 8.
Pato Alvarez hopes one of his children will take over his business in the future. He is pictured with his two sons Camilo, 2, and Alexander, 8.

"We bring positive and good energy."

He and his business partners want to organise overseas tours for Kiwi musicians to countries such as Hawaii, America and Chile.

He is also considering touring One Love in other countries but that route will only be taken when feels the event has reached its zenith at home.

Despite having offers from other councils to host his festivals, Alvarez says One Love and Bay Dreams are "staying here". It's his home.

Alvarez can't see himself living elsewhere.

"I travelled the world, been to so many countries and I always want to come here."

He wants Tauranga to become the event capital of New Zealand.

"There are no limits."