Zoe Le Lievre is a cheese connoisseur and an experienced and talented coxswain at the Oamaru Rowing Club. Gus Patterson asks her a few questions.
Q Where are you originally from?
I have lived in Rotorua my whole life and went to Western Heights High School (the best school in Rotorua).
Q I hear you managed to get a job at Whitestone Cheese in Oamaru. How did this come up?
Dad worked on a farm and I used to steal milk and make my own halloumi. A friend knew about this hobby and saw an advert from Whitestone Cheese, that they were hiring, so I sent a letter to them. I was in Croatia eating sheep’s cheese when I had my interview (by phone), and when I found out I had the job I was eating brie in France.
Q Do you have a passion for cheese?
Yes, I love the process of making cheese and seeing the cheese develop over time, it is so satisfying. Also, nothing makes your parents happier than having a daughter who is a “cheese mule”.
Q I also hear you are quite handy as a coxswain and the Oamaru Rowing club has snapped you up?
I have always had a passion for rowing, as my whole family was involved with it at some stage in Rotorua. I love the competitive environment at rowing and knew that Oamaru had a very good reputation at producing amazing athletes and producing some good results. They had to snap me up.
Q Coxswain sounds like the best spot to be, doesn’t it? Or is it harder than it sounds?
The role of the coxswain is definitely the most underrated role in rowing, but I say it is one of the most important. The first rule of the coxswain is to steer a straight course. We row over a distance of 2000 metres. However, bad coxes could make their crew row an extra 10 metres. Also the coxswain is the brains in the boat and the rowers are like the engines. The coxes can influence change in boat speed and power. The coxswain is the only person, other than the race official, that can communicate with the crew during a race, so are like a second coach.
Q Where will you be in 10 years’ time?
I have no idea where I will be in 10 years’ time. All I know is that I’ll be happy and enjoying life.
Q Favourite cheese?
Definitely the Whitestone Creamy Havarti.