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Former townie helps revive family farm's fortunes with NZ-made blankets

A former townie who didn't like sheep or cows but married a farmer has helped revive their farm's flagging fortunes with New Zealand-made blankets.

Monique Neeson, originally from New Plymouth, was wooed out to one of the most remote farms in the North Island, Awarima Station at Tokirima.

Husband Tim Neeson told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp he did it with "flowers and chocolates".

Farm life was a bit of a culture shock for Monique.

"I didn't really like cows or sheep. Didn't think much about them, didn't know much about farming, just that I thought farmers had it easy," she said. 

Then reality hit.

"The wool price dropped right out. And Tim's mum and I were there, pen to paper, working out what it cost us to shear. And it was unbelievable," Monique said.

"And it was so much effort, and we weren't getting the appropriate price for what was going into it." 

That got her thinking and she came up with a solution.

"There's a lot of New Zealand wool blankets - or New Zealand wool, Australian blended - but nothing actually made here in New Zealand," she said.

Shear Warmth Blankets was born. The same wool from the hills of Tokirima is scoured in Napier, spun in the Hutt Valley, woven in Auckland and sewn in Taumarunui to make the only New Zealand made wool blanket now being sent to the world.

"They go to Italy, they go to Germany, they go all over the world, which is amazing," Monique said.

"Hypoallergenic - keeps you cool in summer, keeps you warm in winter," she said. "It's an amazing product, and it's so undervalued in New Zealand it's unbelievable."

The former townie is doing her bit to keep the farm rolling.

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Marrying into farm life was a tough transition for Monique Neeson, but she found a way to pull her weight. Source: Seven Sharp