Leading Lady: Eve Poole – A life in the spotlight

Vivienne Allan


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Articulate and intelligent, Eve Poole had a passion for the theatre and the arts. Her desire to protect one of Invercargill’s cultural icons led her into politics and she was elected as the city’s first woman mayor in 1983. Catherine Tizard broke similar ground in Auckland that year – the two becoming trailblazers at each end of the country.

As a member of the QEII Arts Council (later Creative New Zealand), Eve played an active role in encouraging the visual and performing arts across the country. She was equally at home on the stage as an actor and director, on TV shows such as Beauty and the Beast, and as a member of the NZ Committee on Women, an early forerunner of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, during the UN Decade for Women. She gained national prominence for her leadership when the 1984 floods ravaged her adopted city and the surrounding region.

Vivienne Allan tells the story of her mother’s life with warmth and honesty, beginning with the struggle to find passage out of Germany in the 1930s. When war broke out Eve, still only 17 and living with her family in Tel Aviv, joined the British Army, serving as a driver in Egypt. There she met the New Zealander who was to become her husband and, after discharge, moved to Invercargill to raise their family with him. Eve’s practicality, determination and humanity saw her retain the mayoralty for four terms until her untimely death in 1992.

Additional information

Weight 0.9 kg
Dimensions 15.2 × 3.1 × 22.9 cm

About the Author

Vivienne Allan was born in Invercargill. Formerly a journalist, she is the author of several books about New Zealand and New Zealanders, including: Go Home and Cook a Meal: A biography of Mollie McGrade Clark; Nurse Maude: The first 100 years; A New Way of Living: The history of the Spinal Injuries Unit in Christchurch, and Creating a Legacy of Social Housing. She lives in Christchurch.

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Leading Lady: Eve Poole – A life in the spotlight by Vivienne Allan


ISBN: 9780995132900

Pages: 408

Format: Trade Paperback (229mm x 152mm)

Author: Vivienne Allan

Published: 15 July 2020


Leading Lady is a commendable tribute to a highly-respected and ambitious woman with vast life experience about whom more should be known… [T]he book is extremely well-informed as the author has sourced many first-hand accounts of her mother’s achievements. Poole no doubt had many more projects in mind, had she lived longer, and [Invercargill] continues to benefit from her tireless work.

– Jessie Neilson, Otago Daily Times