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Closeburn Station

Central Otago Regional Identity Partner

A World of Difference

Comprising 4000 hectares of rugged, buff-coloured landscape, Closeburn Station is heartland Central Otago. Toiling here for over twenty years, owners Tony Clarke and Rebecca Crawford have perfected their ultra-fine merino wool to meet the exacting standards of Konaka, one of Japan’s largest suit manufacturing companies.

closeburn station 1Closeburn Station has been in the family since 1875 with Tony’s grandfather purchasing Closeburn in 1922. Three generations on, Tony, Rebecca and their two children are the keepers of the family’s high country legacy.

Today Closeburn is entwined across the oceans with another enduring family business. Japan’s third-largest suit making company, Konaka—in the same family for 60 years—uses Closeburn’s ultra-fine wool fleece in its elite suit range.

When Konaka representatives visited New Zealand looking for a new fibre to use in their garments, they discovered beautiful fine wool from Closeburn—and Tony’s interest in Japanese culture and karate. With a black belt in karate and a dojo classroom on his farm, Tony is passionate about the character-building skills that karate develops in people.

Since then, Closeburn and Konaka have forged a strong, productive business partnership founded on the importance of family, a passion for excellence and respect for cultural differences.

Innovating and Inspiring

Regional value: Making a Difference

Trying new things is a hallmark of the way Tony and Rebecca operate. Different fertilisers, grazing programmes that push the boundaries, innovation and fine-tuning in genetics to align with Konaka specifications and stock selection to achieve an even, 15-micron, ultra-fine wool clip. It’s about striving for excellence, staying at the cutting edge—taking up the challenge to do things differently.

“I don’t think of myself as an inspirational person. I’m just doing my own thing. People will look at it and say `I can take that out of it and I can apply that to what we’re doing.’ But they’re just using some of the ideas we had and that’s how it sits with me.”

Getting Up Close

Regional value: Respecting Others

Steering a tractor, feeling the stifling heat and sweat of the shearing shed, touching a woolly merino and breathing the pure Central Otago air—Konaka’s top sales executives visit Closeburn annually for an authentic, high country experience. It’s about getting to know the Clarkes, their special place and what they do.

“I think we are getting the people who sell the product to understand what we do and they take a bit of ownership of the product because they understand it. They also know us and want to try and look after us, as we look after them when they visit. They take away a special experience and that’s what we want them to do. You’ve got an affinity with them, you understand where they come from.”

From Merino Wool to Finery

Regional value: Adding Value

The Clarkes have worked hard to produce a premium wool clip that’s exclusively supplied to Konaka for their elite fine-wool suit range. While it’s a journey that’s been both personally and professionally rewarding, the Clarkes say that, ultimately, it’s also about giving back to New Zealand.

“I think the wool and the product we create now is something that’s really special. It’s a top quality New Zealand raw product processed in the top factories in Japan. You come out with a very, very special product at the end of it. We add value by making the best quality product we possibly can for them to take to the next step. In time, they might come back to New Zealand too and have an outlet here.”

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