SHEARING has been in Raehana Hokianga and Jovan Taiki's blood since they were children growing up in the Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand's North Island.
As kids, the pair began working in shearing sheds across the ditch as part of a family contracting business, doing everything from handling to sweeping.
Eventually, they were handed the combs and sharpened their skills and love of shearing sheep before making the journey to Australia and settling in the western Queensland town of Longreach.
Those years of honing their skills has paid off as the cousins prepare to represent their new home country of Australia at the Welsh International Speed Shear Competition next month.
The pair qualified for the tournament after winning the team championship at the Wagga Wagga quick shear competition earlier this month, shearing three sheep each in a staggering two minutes and 41 seconds.
"We actually just booked our flights to fly out to Wales on July 12 a few days ago and we are really excited," Mr Taiki said.
"Going into that competition at Wagga Wagga, I think we were probably considered to be the underdogs because the team we beat were really good and one has the Merino ewe world record, which is 497 ewes in eight hours.
"It's all happened pretty quickly, a little bit more time to prepare would have been good, but we just have to go with it now and we are really excited."
Despite being based in Longreach, the cousins and many other family members living in the area, travel across the country to compete on the speed shear circuit, often tasting success.
Shortly after claiming the team title at Wagga Wagga, Jovan backed up the win by finishing on top of the next quick shear competition at Dubbo.
"For us, we sort of treat it like a sport really," Mr Taiki said.
"Especially in rural Queensland where it can be quite remote, I think it is important to have that way of getting out there and socialising.
"Whenever we go to a competition across the country, we get to catch up with mates, have a bit of fun and test ourselves against them as well.
"We've been at it for a few years, stuck at it and it's come about that we know what to do and get some good results.
"NSW runs its own speed shear circuit, which runs from about June this year to the same time next year, and you just accumulate points with each one you compete at.
"I only just scrapped into the top 10 during the Dubbo competition, but from there I was able to come away with a win and few points, which was handy.
"I've been probably at it for about 15 years, so it has been a while.
"Mum and Dad had a shearing contracting business back in New Zealand and I started working in the shed back when I was about 11 or 12 years old.
"I wasn't shearing to start with, I got my start as a handler, pressing the bales, yarding up the lambs and that type of thing."
The 34-year-old said having his 27-year-old cousin alongside him for their first trip overseas made the success even sweeter.
"Rae has always been right there with me during the speed shear competitions and it's really good that we are able to do this together," he said.
"It's obviously a bit further than what we are both used to travelling, but we are both pretty excited."
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