Kiwi imports clipped at the heels of Southern Downs shearers
KIWIS Naki Maraki and Eruera Mataira-Hannam had been in Australia for less than five days before they stepped up to challenge the local blokes in the competitive shearing at the Warwick Show.
The two fellas grew up in the New Zealand sheep industry, where winning the competitive shearing at a country show is a akin to playing in the local rugby finals.
"It is something that is in our blood," Mr Maraki said.
"I was 12 years old when I had shorn my first 200 hundred in a day and did my first 300 when I was 13.
"My record is 401 sheep in an eight-hour day."
The boys were up against small field of veteran Southern Downs shearers with a distinct home-field advantage.
New Zealand grazing conditions lead the country to developing a unique line of crossbred sheep with a softer, lanolin heavy wool.
The 19-year-old shearer said Aussie sheep are not up to scratch to what he is used to.
"The sheep are ten times better at home, we don't see many merinos," he said.
"Our crossbreds have more grease in their wool so it cuts way better."
New Zealand is known for its national flock and with fewer introduced predators, the wool industry is still very big business.
Shearing competitions give workers a chance to show contacts what they can do.
"There's plenty of young fellas getting into shearing back in New Zealand, like 13, 14 and 15-year-old competitors.
"In our Golden Shears Competition they shear 3500 sheep over three days.
"We get about 300-400 shearers and the shows back home can get you a long way."
Getting in with a good contractor means a shearer has plenty of sheep to hone their skill.
At an average of $2 for each fleece the job works out to be a real money spinner.
"It is probably one of the best money making jobs around, you just do your eight hour day and it is a good life style to get into," Mr Makaki said.
"You can travel the world doing this job.
"I want to buy a house out of it and travel the world while I'm young.
"I'm here to work, but if there are shows around I'll support the cause and have a turn."
Unfortunately, Mr Marakai's vigour was no match for the older bloke's experience.
He placed fourth in the open shear.
Ian Cullen won it.