A South Island shearing gang has arrived in Northland on a mammoth contract run "chasing sheep".
The shearing crew of Pagan and Tamihana Karauria has driven from their base in Alexandra, Central Otago, and will be in Northland until December 3.
Their shearing contract run of about eight sheds starts in Cape Reinga and they will work their way down to sheds in the Whangārei area and Kaipara district.
For Pagan, heading to Northland was originally part of Morrell Shearing's "big tactical plan" to keep the world-class shearers and wool handlers in New Zealand with consistent work.
"Northland fills a gap really nicely and our gang loves it. Some of the guys are originally from Northland so it's a chance for them to catch up with family and friends.
"We love it up in Northland with its beautiful beaches and prettiest countryside. It's our fourth year doing this run and we all want to come back every year," she said.
"It's a bit like a working holiday."
The gang of 12 comprises five shearers, three rowsies, two pressers, one cook and a manager.
Pagan has called the crew Perfect Rhythm "for the perfect and easy synchronicity of the elite shearing and woolhandling action".
Pagan and Tamihana bought the run off Dion Morrell Shearing, owned by her father Dion Morrell and his wife, Gabriela Schmidt-Morrell. They continue to run eight or nine shearing gangs in the South Island under the name Dion Morrell Shearing, of Alexandra.
Thirty-three-year-old Pagan comes from a long line of record-holding shearers. Her father and grandfather are record holder shearers and her mother, Tina Rimene, is a master and world champion woolhandler.
"Our whole family is involved. It's in our blood."
She is one of New Zealand's top woolhandlers and won a world teams title with Sheree Alabaster in France in 2019 as well as coming third in the individual world woolhandling event. She also came fourth in the women's shearing event.
One of six members of the Allflex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling team at the championships in the central France town of Le Dorat, Pagan said the heat was excruciating at the venue.
The next world shearing and woolhandling championships, which were to be held in Scotland, have been postponed and will now be held in 2023.
With most shearers choosing not to travel overseas due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions, competitions within New Zealand are helping them keep their skills honed.
Pagan has this month won her fourth New Zealand Corriedale Woolhandling Championships Open title.
The championships were held at the Marble Point Station woolshed near Hanmer Springs, after the cancellation of the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Canterbury.
Pagan has now won 35 Open finals in New Zealand, Australia and France.
Tamihana has also competed at a top level in woolhandling, coming third in the novice championships in Alexandra last year.
Pagan said shearers disliked to take too much time away from the shed as their fitness could drop quickly.
"We're also constantly eating, four to six meals a day, so we can't afford to stop.
"Fitness is the key to the job being easy to manage. If you let your body go, you soon know all about it," she said.
Taking part in shearing competitions helped shearers to fine tune their technique.
"We try and teach a uniform pattern of shearing but everyone tends to develop their own pattern eventually," she said.
Young shearers build up to be able to shear 300 sheep in eight hours.
Elite shearers can shear many more, with eight-hour world records of 644 for strong wool ewes and 497 for merino ewes.
Merino, which are more commonly farmed in the south, are more difficult to shear because of their finer wool and wrinkly skin.
Northlanders can head to the Whangārei Agricultural and Pastoral Show to see these shearing stars in action, with shearing returning to the show for the first time in 30 years.
"Most of our guys are keen to take part," she said. "It helps us as well."