As children, cousins Blair and Blake Tuke spent endless summers sailing in the Bay of Islands and enjoying their time fishing, diving and wakeboarding.
During the years, Blake, 20, has watched as Blair, 29, has become one of our most successful sailors, winning gold at the 2016 Olympics, a Halberg Award and being part of Team New Zealand when it won the America's Cup in 2018.
"I'm super proud of him because I've seen the whole process and how much hard work is involved," says Blake.
But now it's Blair's turn to see his young relative sail onto the world stage.
Blake is part of the international touring cast of Opera Australia's new production of West Side Story. Along with fellow Auckland dancer Jason Yong-Westland, he'll perform in Wellington before traveling to Germany for a three-city tour and returning to Australia for a season at the Sydney Opera House.
Tuke and Yong-Westland play members of rival street gangs and were among 800 dancers who auditioned for places in the 33-strong cast.
It's a voyage that began for Blake, now based in Australia, when he was 12 years old. Then a keen rugby player, he regularly watched classes, rehearsals and performances at his stepmother, Corrine Yee's, dance school.
"I knew all the dances and the songs, so I decided I might as well give it a go."
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Blake eventually started boarding at St Kentigern's so he could be closer to dance classes. Then a serious rugby injury, which left him with a fractured rib and a damaged anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), saw him doing some soul-searching about his future.
"I had to decide between rugby and dance and I had more of a passion for dance plus I didn't want to get pummelled in rugby any more," he says. "The thrill of performing for people who want to watch and be entertained by you is best feeling."
Blake moved to Sydney to study and has since worked on shows including The Voice Australia. However, West Side Story is his professional theatre debut. He says cousin Blair is talking about coming to see the show in Germany.
"He always jokes about having no moves on a dance floor at all but he's super supportive and as proud of my achievements as I am of him," Blake says. "We're both getting to travel the world with what we're passionate about. It's amazing."
• West Side Story is on at Wellington's Opera House from June 6-16