An 18-year-old has won a top award for singing in her school production, without one of the judges realising she was blind.
Takapuna Grammar School student Natalie Te Paa was named the best female soloist in a minor role for her performance in Godspell.
When judge Craig Lett saw Natalie perform he had no idea she was blind until he was told by a fellow judge.
Mr Lett says Natalie is a thoroughly deserving winner.
"She has an amazing voice, and an equally amazing stage presence. I see a lot of productions throughout the year and Natalie's performance is one I'm sure I'll remember for a long time."
The Showdown awards recognise outstanding work in school productions, from singing, to lighting, to costume design.
Natalie says she was born to sing.
"Singing with emotion gives me goosebumps. It's like being in my own little world."
Natalie appeared on New Zealand's Got Talent this year and says the exposure has been amazing.
"People just stop me on the street and say ‘I saw you on New Zealand's Got Talent, you were really good'. The compliments people give me, it's just overwhelming and humbling."
Natalie was born blind and her parents had to fight to get her into mainstream education.
They won their battle and Natalie has since been involved in school productions, kapa haka groups and she also plays the piano.
She says her schools have completely taken her under their wing.
"I've really been able to get involved and do what I want to do. It's amazing. I know I use that word a lot but I can't even find a word good enough to describe all of this."
Natalie has just finished year 13 and will spend next year at a programme run by the Blind and Low Vision Education Network to help her transition to university, work or independent living.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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