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Local rural women in the frame

The third episode of ‘Shepherdess’, a new six-part Sky TV series celebrating rural women living in provincial Aotearoa, will feature three local women who live in Te Awaiti, Tuturumuri, and Tora when it screens tomorrow night.

The series showcases the diverse perspectives of 18 women who live and work rurally and are all at different stages in their lives.

Past and upcoming episodes highlight women scattered across the country, from Pōrangahau in the southeast of the North Island to Tokanui in the eastern portion of the Southland District.

The female-led production debuted on October 22 of this year.

Sunday’s episode titled ‘Tora’ documents hardworking women Claire Edwards, Kiri Elworthy, and Fiona Firth as they discuss their passions and struggles living and working in an isolated community. The film crew spent six days filming in the community – two days with each woman and their families.

Tora, on Wairarapa’s southern coast, is home to a community dedicated to farming and fishing, and the show will highlight Edwards and her partner’s well-established company, Tora Collective, which was born out of a desire to change the country’s cuisine culture and has a focus on sustainable packaging, using natural resources, and harvesting kaimoana seasonally and only to order.

Meanwhile, Elworthy will take viewers through her life running the Tora Coastal Walk, which involves hiking across her and her husband James’s farm and supports conservation and land retirement efforts.

Lastly, the show will capture Firth’s life as a rural woman who travels two hours a day to drop her kids off at school in Martinborough before heading to her job in Featherston, where she works as a nurse.

According to Firth, she has always lived rurally and can’t imagine having it any other way, noting that she enjoys the fact that her closest neighbours live 2 km away from her family.

Firth told the Times-Age the lows of living rurally are the travel and isolation “although the isolation can be a real benefit, particularly if you live there and stay there”.

“It can be really nice, but if you’re having to travel like I am, it’s a hard slog,” Firth said.

“But when we get home, we love it. There’s no one out there, and we’ve got amazing views, and we live in an amazing part of the country. We do kind of take it for granted a little bit.”

Firth believes the bonds within a small rural community are stronger due to everyone living in an isolated area, making more time for community get-togethers and getting to know each other.

Tune in to Sky Open [Channel 4] to watch Tora’s episode of ‘Shepherdess’, airing tomorrow night at 7.30pm.

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