A woman who lived on Lake Hawea Station with owners Geoff and Justine Ross has labelled critics of their recent appearance on TV show Country Calendar "disgusting" and "embarrassing".
And Chanelle O'Sullivan has backed her friends' controversial farming methods - which some labelled "woke", "crapola" and "PC BS" - saying conventional farmers who've slated the new sheep-friendly tactics will be kicking themselves for not keeping up with international market demands.
"Old school farmers who laugh are the ones who will be p***ed off when they realise they need to be operating at these levels in the future - and if you think you won't - you are kidding yourselves."
The Rosses, also founders of the hugely successful 42 Below vodka company, were featured on the well-known farming progamme on Sunday following the station's conversion to Australasia's first certified carbon-zero farm while running 10,000 merino sheep.
In addition to the 6500ha station's carbon-zero approach, the episode detailed changes to its shearing process, including switching the shearers' music from rock to classical, and adding mattresses at the bottom of the porthole chutes to protect the sheep as they exited the shed.
A scorecard for the station's shearers' performance was judged on the experience of the sheep, as opposed to the traditional tally.
During the episode, Geoff Ross said the decisions were made to appease and educate overseas consumers who believed shearing was harmful to sheep.
Some New Zealand viewers weren't impressed, calling the decisions "woke," and "PC BS".
One commenter claimed it was "very obvious that the Government money has infected TVNZ".
A spokesperson for TVNZ said the broadcaster was state-owned but commercially funded and operated independently.
The shearing regime faced fierce criticism as well, saying scorecards for shearers were "crapola" and that they should be allowed to pick their own music "even though a lot of it is rubbish".
The show also came under fire for presenting an unrealistic version of farming in New Zealand, as not all Kiwis enjoy the same financial situation as the couple.
"Not everyone can sell a vodka company for millions and then buy a farm to try [to] promote their fantasy ideas," one comment read.
The backlash has been so fierce the iconic show was compelled to address it on its Facebook page.
"We've had a huge response to the show about carbon reduction and animal welfare at Lake Hawea Station. And although it was our highest-rating episode of the year, most of your comments are negative!" the post began.
Not all the feedback was negative, with some supporting the couple's environmental efforts and chastising those who complained.
Geoff Ross had recently hit back at critics, telling the Herald New Zealand farming faced two key challenges; the need to build premiums for our growers and responding to the world's need to de-carbonise.
"The steps we have taken are achieving both," he said. "We are achieving significant premiums for our climate positive status and our animal welfare techniques."
Chanelle O'Sullivan and her family lived at the property while her husband David held the general manager position for more than two years.
O'Sullivan, who studied the future of New Zealand farming, said criticism from the farming industry of the Rosses' techniques was misguided.
"Tall poppy syndrome is rife in this industry and frankly some of the comments have been disgusting and embarrassing as an industry," she said in a Facebook post.
"How can we be so narrow-minded when the world is literally changing before our eyes?"
She clarified she was not defending the Rosses, but defending the concept of farming practices evolving to better suit the industry and environment.
O'Sullivan claimed her husband was partly responsible for the station's regenerative agriculture approach, the addition of solar power and the general redevelopment of the farm so it could secure "high-end international contracts".
"What you need to remember is that their market is not Kiwis, nor Kiwi farmers - their target market is high-end fashion houses around the world and they are DEMANDING these standards - literally.
"If you want to sell to them, you must be doing all of this and more - in return you get premiums that will make it worth it."
She acknowledged the Rosses were "disruptive people", echoing the same claim made by Justine Ross on the programme.
However, she urged farmers to keep an open mind.
"I understand that these changes can be confronting to traditional/conventional farmers and when people feel challenged or their methods are insulted - they attack right?
"I get that - just keep an open mind and focus on the message."