Another awesome ladies lunch was held on Friday 31st May with over $6,200 raised for Pohlen Foundation.  A MASSIVE thanks to Matamata Life Pharmacy – Avril and Peter for once again supporting this fabulous event with wonderful raffle prizes and a gorgeous candle for everyone.  Special thanks to Cat Vosper for returning to Matamata to speak and provide a wonderful drop of Pinot Gris from Casita Miro – enjoyed by all!  Lovely food from Food by Design and beautiful piano playing from Sheryl King.

After several years at the Red Barn and, prior to that, at Longland’s Farm & Restaurant, the Pohlen Foundation Ladies Luncheon had a change of venue this year. Held at the Matamata- Piako Memorial & Civic Centre, the luncheon is an annual event that raises funds for the benefit of capital purchases for our community’s most valuable asset, Pohlen Hospital. And, thanks to the hard work of Pohlen Foundation Fundraising Administrator, Gilly Alexander and her team of ‘dwarves’ – no reflection on their small stature it must be said, the main hall was transformed into a gorgeous and relaxing dining room fit for our local ladies.

Welcoming in excess of 140 guests, Pohlen Foundation Trustee, Liz Atherton was proud to acknowledge an exciting year for the hospital which includes achievement of four year certification to the highest standard possible, a growing medical practice, upgraded facilities and upcoming celebrations acknowledging 50 years since Pohlen Hospital was first established. Liz was then delighted to welcome the Foundation’s special guest, Cat Vosper to share an insight to life beyond the Matamata boundary, her life, love, family and of course, her expediential success as a Waiheke Island winemaker and restaurateur.

A former head girl at Matamata College, Cat is one of six children raised on the family dairy farm on Hinuera Road. She remembers that, although the family didn’t dine out a lot, a really special experience was devouring the very fancy ham steaks complete with a pineapple ring at the Esperanto restaurant owned by John Doel – “a reflection of fine dining in the 1970s” she laughed! Following her high school education, Cat studied law at Victoria University and as a result, attributes her eventual employer and mentor, Robin Jones as a man who stood her in good stead for her adult working life.

She travelled extensively and after inhaling the beauty, diversity and experiences was lucky to later meet, and fall in love with Barnett Bond, the man who examined her nose after a bicycle fell on it – she also acknowledges there was probably a story or two in that alone! After purchasing a ‘cheap’ but rough 10 acre block at Waiheke Island, Cat and Barnett with their three children (the youngest, Miro at just a week old) relocated from Matamata and stared down a challenge of massive proportion. They became wine makers and over a period of several years with interest and demand for their wines growing, decided to begin creating a selection of tapa offerings to match with tastings. It was after the acclaimed Peta Mathias visited and strongly advised they expand, the birth of their culinary journey really began. Casita Miro, the ensuing restaurant, is now a port of call for worldwide visitors and, says Cat, “there are so many stories to tell.” One of her favourite anecdotes shared was some years ago, while watching her daughter, Miro, hula-hooping with some customers in the olive grove. “I popped down to investigate to find the customers laughing and having a great time. It turned out they were actually Pink Floyd, and we received a family invitation to their concert in Auckland!”

After a fabulous address and, in summing up her success, Cat acknowledged her mother’s teaching of innate feminist principles that, combined with kindness, equality, honour and respect, have empowered her with the spirit of collaboration in all she does. She appreciates a very happy life, implores all women to help each other and after thanking the Pohlen Foundation for hosting her at the Ladies Luncheon, said very simply; “It’s just wonderful to be home.”