A Brief History of Poronui
First Settlement by Europeans
Originally surveyed in 1877 Poronui is one of the many forgotten stories of early New Zealand settlement. It is conceivable that it was once part of the original 75,000 acre Lochinvar block. Even the word means ‘part of something bigger’.
The red hut in our logo was built soon after surveying, and generations of anglers would stay at this humble outpost, many carving their initials in the kauri timber of the walls.
Poronui has changed in size and ownership many times over the years. Before the First World War it was owned by a Mr. McFarlane. In more recent times, the early 60’s, the Tuhoe Maori Trust Board began a progressive development programme. At that time the property was 17,000 acres.
>Read more on our blog about the early years, when Poronui was called El Rancho, owned by Mormon missionaries and used to breed quarter horses!
Originally a Farming Project
Later in the 60’s the property transferred to ANZAMCO Limited, an Australian, New Zealand and American Company. Under the supervision of Mr. W. B Mendenhall of Salt Lake City, Utah the company set in motion a remarkable farming project on the then 28,000 acres.
Approximately 2,000 acres of new country were broken in annually, together with extensive aerial topdressing and over-sowing on the hill country. The property really flourished as a farming entity and carried significant numbers of sheep and cattle.
In the early 80’s the property once again changed hands and the Howard family, originally from the United Kingdom, made Poronui their home. They sold off the northern portion of the property and continued farming the remaining 16,000 acres.
The forestry era for the property began when it was sold to Caxton’s and subsequently Carter Holt Harvey. Some 6,000 acres were planted in Eucalyptus Nitens and Radiata Pine.
Fishing Lodge Added
In 1986 a small fishing lodge was established on Poronui by Simon Dickie, former New Zealand rowing cox who won 3 Olympic medals - two golds and a bronze. The lodge, perched on an outcrop overlooking the Taharua River, soon became world famous for its outstanding fishing. Simon, a raconteur and expert fishing guide, gathered together a team of people all as passionate as himself about fishing, the outdoors and the New Zealand back country. The fishing lodge was a huge success story. The lodge at that time could best have been described as rustic and many guests returned year after year becoming more like family.
Simon was one of the people responsible for putting New Zealand fly fishing on the world map. As the lodge grew in popularity Simon expanded his operation and built the current lodge. The warmth and relaxed hospitality for which Poronui had earned an enviable reputation continued in the new facilities. A number of the current team well remember those early days - namely Grant Petherick, Craig Aspinall and Eve Reilly.
A World Class Sporting Facility is Born
In 1998 the property went on the market and this time the Blake Family from San Francisco not only bought the land but also the lodge business. This was the first time both were under the same ownership and as principal shareholder Mark Blake set about developing Poronui into a world class sporting facility. The Blake House, Stables, Safari Camp and Game Ranch are all legacies from the Blake era.
Where We Are Today
Having completed these projects the Blake Family sold to the current owners - the Westervelt Company of Alabama. Poronui is now one of the Westervelt Sporting Lodges and its natural assets will be grown and preserved for future generations under the stewardship of the Westervelt Company.