Young rural lady of the Hakataramea
Touring the globe and performing for celebrities has done little to expose singer Bex Murray to the farming life.
But this is changing as she now lives on a sheep and beef property in the upper reaches of the Hakataramea Valley, with her fiance, Tom Haymen, a third generation "Haka" farmer.
She has been innovative; the brains behind "Young Rural Ladies," a Facebook page supporting, promoting and profiling women and their businesses in the rural sector.
Murray is a self-confessed "townie."
"The family here don't like me talking about the farm," she laughs, "because they think I'll get it wrong."
"I'd never even been up the 'Haka' before I met Tom. The fortunate thing is that, after all my travelling, I want to settle down. I really needed a base."
The idea of "Young Rural Ladies" just popped into her head one day while driving out the back of the farm, she said. Singing gigs had been a bit slow over the winter, and she was thinking what else she could do.
"I thought there must be other town girls out there living on farms with no farming background, and feeling a bit isolated. I'd been doing a lot of DIY and putting it up on my own Facebook page, and I thought there might be other girls interested in this."
With friend Sarah Connell from Dome Hills, she set up a Facebook page called "Young Rural Ladies."
"Sarah is an interior designer from Auckland, a real city slicker, and was in the same boat as me, finding things quiet over the winter. Sarah is such an amazing cook, and I'm not, so we began posting her recipes and my DIY.
"I was renovating the shearer's quarters – it took me about four months. I sanded all the floors, documented the whole thing, and posted it. It was really, really popular."
Murray said the page "went off" and within three months it had 3000 followers, without advertising. Then they began profiling and promoting small rural businesses run by women, once a month.
Businesses profiled included The Linen Shed in North Otago, a Fairlie woman making wooden boxes and someone else making bed heads. They were featured and in return donated give-aways, which Murray distributed in a draw.
People were now emailing them to promote their business, she said..
"Then we decided to profile a rural woman every month. Our first was Liz Hayes who was a TV3 presenter but who now lives up the valley with three kids - a rural lady with an interesting career. We've done the Morrow sisters at Ashburton who bought Lushingtons cafe and garden centre, and the three Wilson sisters, who were on TV with the Kaimanawa horses. We get to meet cool people who have done really well and we are always open to ideas of who to profile."
Murray said Facebook had changed its rules and to get posts out to all 3000 followers required payment. Because the page was voluntarily, Murray was spending her own money to continue the profiles.
"I don't mind, I'm doing this as much for myself as others. I do think some town girls find it difficult moving onto a farm, especially if they aren't going out to work. But the internet makes staying connected much easier."