An ivory-tickling duo, Stevie Wonder-inspired songstress, fresh hip hop crew and ethereal dance troupe were among the stars that shone the brightest at the Far North’s Got Talent final on Saturday.
Held at the Te Ahu Centre to a full-capacity crowd, the finals saw hilarious MCs Luke Bird and Miss Kihi take the audience through a riveting showcase of 16 acts over several hours.
Rocking the stage in denim cut-offs and specially braided hair with purple highlights, Kapowairua Waitai – the pint-sized girl with the enormous voice – took out the Juniors section (Years 1 – 8) with her flawless rendition of a difficult soul classic, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”. Second place went to beautiful singer Te Koha Shortland and third place to country and western crooner Kees Cherrington.
Meanwhile, swathed in all black, blood red velvet and Doc Marten boots, Taipa Area School’s Bowen Matthews and Manawa McLeod stunned the audience into silence with a moving three-part piano medley. Met with a rousing haka tautoko after their performance, their Seniors section (Years 9-13) win proved a surprise to the duo, who had only been performing together for a month and had entered the competition to showcase their talents.
Kaikohe-based Hush dance crew pumped and ground their way to second place while Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro’s spine-tingling kaiwaiata Te Aroha Pawa placed third.
The crowd favourite awards were presented by whānau members of the late Peiton Murray Hynes and Te Amohaere Rudolph as a dedication to the outstanding contribution they had made to performing arts.
The only two dance items of the night – Hush and contemporary specialists Dance Wild – were the two acts chosen as the crowd favourites of the evening via ticket and online voting.
Up-and-coming reggae artist and FNGT2017 judge Majic Pāora was complimentary of the finalists, urging them to enjoy the moment. “It’s such a bit thing stepping up on a stage; a lot of contestants are really shy. You can achieve anything you want to do. I’ve achieved every little dream I’ve set up for myself because I’ve had so much support from my Dad. You are testament to your tupuna and you should all be proud of who you are and where you come from,” she said.
Fellow judges Tina Cross, Mikaira Pau and Beau Monga were also blown away by the final acts’ performances. “The talent has been overwhelming and phenomenal. Everyone has made me feel something,” said Tina.
He Whānau Marama Trust co-founder and FNGT2017 organiser Micah Tawhara said the event was everything that the organising crew and volunteer staff had wanted it to be – and more. “We did an amazing job, thanks to the limited funding we received, the sponsors who supported it and the people who gave their time and heart for koha,” she said.
Voluntary catering, security, ticket sales and manaakitanga staff were made up of FNGT2017 co-organisers, Te Rarawa Anga Mua employees and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Pukemiro teachers, parents and students who used the opportunity as a fundraiser to raise money for the end-of-year trip to the kapa haka nationals.
She says the talent quest format is part of the #shineonkaitaia project that aims to get all tamariki and rangatahi shining through Te Hiku by spreading and sharing their love of performing arts. She adds one of her aims is to get the artists on the road throughout Te Hiku to inspire other up-and-coming talents, as well as get them into the recording studio to record and distribute their original works.
To the tamariki thinking of performing in next year’s event, she has a few words of advice. “Enter as many school competitions and talent quests as you can to get used to performing in front of others. Practice your talent every chance you get and have your whanau stay connected on the Far North’s Got Talent Facebook page for more opportunities to watch the finalists, access tips and get updated on other community events that you may be able to perform at,” she says.
Junior place-getters received $800 (1st), $400 (2nd) and $200 (3rd), Senior place-getters received $1000 (1st), $500 (2nd) and $250 (3rd) and crowd favourites walked away with a $100 prize (Juniors) and $200 prize (Seniors). To view the final acts, head to Te Hiku Media or for pics go to the Far North’s Got Talent 2017 Facebook