All About Eve, Nov 2009
Our Lodge Manager Eve Reilly was born near Clonmel in County Tipperary and had an alarmingly ordinary upbringing. One of five children and the eldest girl, it was the early death of her father that tipped her into a career in hospitality.
Rather than pay the excessive death duties on the family home when her father died, Eve and her mother Evie turned the family home into successful country guest house. After an eight-year apprenticeship in hospitality, Eve turned her special talent for making people feel at home to children, and qualified as a Montessori teacher.
In 1981, on one of her overseas quests, Eve discovered the land of the Long White Cloud. Enchanted by the people, the outdoor lifestyle and the proximity to fantastic wines, Eve returned to NZ in 1983 and settled in the North Island’s western most city - New Plymouth. It took six years for the pull of family and Ireland’s forty shades of green to take effect and Eve returned to County Tipperary via a spell teaching Montessori in Finland (where there is very little green!).
Realising she had made the right decision all along, Eve soon returned to New Zealand and took up her current role at Poronui in January 1993. In the sixteen years she has been at Poronui, Eve has been a steady steward through three changes of ownership.
In 1993, Poronui Lodge was owned by Simon Dickie, cox of the legendary rowing eight that won gold at the Munich Olympics. The 16,000 acre property was separately administered by Carter Holt Harvey, one of New Zealand’s biggest businesses. In 1998 the Blake family of California acquired the property, and a year later took ownership of the Lodge. Finally, in 2007 the Tuscaloosa-based Westervelt family purchased the combined entity, and are working with the team to build Poronui into one of the world’s finest outdoor pursuits properties.
Westervelt’s passion for the natural environment and conservation, makes them the ideal partner for Poronui and it’s loyal staff. With Westervelt’s country manager, Steve Smith and his support team handling many of the administrative tasks, Eve is able to spend more of her time with our valued guests as warm and congenial host.
When she’s not helping chefs Lisa and Claire select a menu for the evening’s festivities, or organising the minute detail of a guest’s itinerary, Eve can usually be found on the deck in front of the Lodge. A glass of Central Otago pinot noir in hand and a creamy blue cheese on the table, Eve will relax with her guests, sharing stories and tall tales of the one that got away or the trophy won. At her feet will be Tippet the terrier, born at Poronui eight years ago and now blind in one eye. As Eve tells it, rabbits are still in extreme danger around Tippet, except when they are lucky enough to appear on his ‘blind’ side!
And when the sun goes down and the last guest has retired to their luxury cabin for the evening, it will be Eve who washes the wine glasses and sets the breakfast table, ready for the beginning of another magical day at Poronui.