Held outside due to Covid, the quad was decked out appropriately in red, yellow, green and blue ribbons and balloons representing Blake, Hillary, Ngāpua and Sheppard. Sheppard drew the opening slot and entertained with an Abba medley.
As one judge wrote, ‘Who doesn’t like ABBA?’ A great band and some slick dance moves, choreographed by Grace Wiegersma, added to the fun, despite the grand finale being hastily rewritten due to Mr Oclee-Brown being absent, struck down by food poisoning. Blake, decked out in glorious red, followed with an upbeat medley of 80’s pop standards. Hillary was up next, glad to be out of the fierce sun. On stage, their medley was as slick as butter, their band the cream of the crop. Their politically corrected ‘We Are the Champions’ was inspiring but sadly not prophetic, as Sheppard’s Abba medley won the top prize for the Large Group contest. Ngapua’s medley, simply accompanied on drum kit, had failed to knock them off the winner’s podium. Maybe next year.
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Balloons popped enthusiastically in the baking sun as the small groups took to the stage. A new idea, brokered by Angela McGregor, founder of the Whānau Music Competition, its first year is auspicious. We were treated to lovely vocal tones from Sheppard in Mika’s ‘Grace Kelly’, Hillary’s version of ‘These Days’, which even included an enthusiastic dance around the quad and Ngāpua’s memorable and highly original ‘Feliz Navidad’, which had everyone singing along. The prize, to nobody’s surprise, was awarded to Blake’s spine-tingling rendition of Cohen’s
‘Hallelujah’, led by Jack Trubshaw. It was a fun-filled morning: thanks to our adjudicators, singing teacher Vera Dirksen, emeritus head of Whangarei Youth Music, Jennifer Wordsworth and local musician, Ben Michelsen, who certainly gave us helpful feedback, in spite of being deafened by enthusiastic whānau chants.