Awarima Station owners spin unique properties of wool into Shearwarmth

Shearwarmth wool

Monique and Tim Neeson know how fortunate they are to own and operate an extensive sheep and beef farm called Awarima Station in the King Country, near Tokirima. They bought the property from Tim’s parents in 2020. Monique has been on the property since 2006 and Tim approximately 20 years.

The couple has three children aged 11, 9 and 7, and according to Monique, are the luckiest children to be growing up in the station, and attending a good local school 17 kilometres away.

In all, along with some land they lease, their landholding extends to 2500 hectares having purchased another farm in 2022. Stock on the station includes about 7000 breeding ewes 6,000 replacement hoggets and approximately 750 beefies.

“It spreads the risk with prices going up and down and the stock complement each other in terms of working the pasture,” says Tim. Rearing calves also helps the bottom line, and the couple each work on the farm, bringing their own skills to the fore.

“Monique is great on the books and taking care of the administration and is responsible for rearing 480 calves each season. Our success is down to the fact that we both contribute to the business. We also have a shepherd with us, and between us, we manage to keep things ticking over well. It’s the quiet season at the moment,” Tim says.

A passion for wool has led the couple to add another business string to their bow, in the form of beautifully crafted lambs wool blankets, marketed under the name Shear Warmth. The business, run by Monique and Tim’s mum, was established 12 years ago. Two years ago Monique and Tim took over the operation.

The couple developed their passion for wool into another successful business string called Shearwarmth.

“We’re both passionate about wool and wanted to do something constructive given the dire situation of the value of the wool clip. Wool is an amazing, healthy, beautiful product so underrated here so this is our way of promoting it,” says Monique.

She is very proud of the fact that these blankets are totally made in New Zealand, from the first clip of lambs’ wool. Lambs born in spring are clipped in January or February. Following shearing the wool goes to Clive to be washed and scoured.

“The great thing for me is that it is a wonderful creative outlet. There’s real provenance in the blankets, with each one traceable back to our flock. I’m super proud of the fact that the entire process of creating the blankets is here in New Zealand. That makes them quite unique.”

The blankets even come with their own birth certificate. Monique keeps a close eye on design trends emerging from Europe but also likes to reflect the colours and qualities of their own farm environment.

Once washed and scoured the fleeces travel to Lower Hutt to Wool Yarns and spun, then made into blankets in Auckland. The largest loom is 1.5 metres wide. Monique also loves the opportunity to educate people about all the endearing qualities wool possesses. A natural product, wool helps to regulate temperature and is fire resistant.

“We love asking people what they do with their blankets. They are just such a versatile product, from beds to throws and cuddly rugs and picnic blankets. I really like thinking about what the design for each blanket will be, so they are all very individual.”

The blankets even come with their own birth certificate. Monique keeps a close eye on design trends emerging from Europe but also likes to reflect the colours and qualities of their own farm environment.

Awarima Station is a stunning property, bordered by the Whanganui and Ohura Rivers, with large stands of native bush and all the flora and fauna this brings. “We feel very privileged to be here. Our relationship to the land is one of being custodians, doing our bit to leave it better than when we arrived,” Monique says.

For Tim, that relationship is summed up simply: “The river and hills run deep in my blood.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2023 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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