Jam with world record prize
South Auckland kids are strumming their way to a world record.
They'll be among more than 3000 children from Auckland, Waikato and Northland schools participating in the world's biggest ukulele jam on December 1.
It's all part of the New Zealand Ukulele Festival, an annual event put together by the New Zealand Ukulele Trust.
Now in its sixth year, the festival will play host to more than 10,000 performers, the star attraction of which is the school orchestra, dubbed the Kiwileles.
Ten-year-old Teina Benioni has played with the ukulele orchestra "heaps of times" and says it's always a fun day.
"But the first time it was freaky because I hadn't done it before and it was in front of lots of people."
The East Tamaki Primary School student says her favourite tune to play is the Samoan song Tagi Sina.
The ukulele is an easy instrument to learn, she says - the hardest part is the quick chord changes.
The 126 schools that make up the Kiwileles have spent the year learning and practising the songs for their performance.
Trust chairwoman Mary Cornish says it will include a wide range of ditties, from classics like The Beatles' Octopus's Garden to contemporary favourites like Love Love Love by Kiwi band Avalanche City.
"It's really important to us to be culturally inclusive in our repertoire so we've got a Cook Islands song and a Tokelauan song in there and we've had Samoan songs," she says.
The trust aims to make music accessible to kids throughout New Zealand by funding the ukuleles and songbooks into schools.
"It doesn't cost mum and dad anything and as many kids as possible are getting access to playing music and enjoying it and feeling successful."
And the cheery instrument is growing in popularity, Ms Cornish says.
"In New Zealand it's taken off I think because it's a very authentic instrument for Pacific Island communities. It's very easy to play - we've got five-year-olds coming to the festival.
"Within an hour, the kids can be taught two or three chords and then they're away."
The New Zealand Ukulele Festival will be held on December 1 at the Trusts Stadium, Waitakere. Go online to nzukulelefestival.org.nz for more information.