Singing funeral director Francis Tipene believes he's got what it takes to win.
The Massey resident is a finalist in the Maori Television karaoke show Homai te Pakipaki.
He got through to the semifinals of the programme with his rendition of the Bee Gees classic hit How Can You Mend a Broken Heart last month.
"I was really surprised because it wasn't my intention to win," he says. "I just wanted to get our name out there as the singing funeral directors."
He received a $1000 cheque and plans to spend it on buying new tyres for his company's hearse.
Mr Tipene then followed it up with a performance of the hit song Save The Last Dance For Me in last Friday's semifinals.
Now the 27-year-old father of three hopes to win tonight's final. The event will be held at Greenlane's Logan Campbell Centre.
Mr Tipene says he's got an army of supporters who will show up to give him their support.
"But it's reliant on the number of votes I can get."
For someone who is used to singing at funeral services, performing in front of a big crowd is something different.
"We don't get to sing to live audiences often."
An email sent out by his fans The Broz describes him as the finest singing funeral director in Aotearoa.
Mr Tipene says it's a hard title to live up to.
But one of his many supporters Scottie Williams says he's just being modest and he's excited to see Mr Tipene perform tonight.
"It's great. Everybody is amped and he's got some great support out there."
Mr Tipene started Waitakere Funeral Services last year with business partner Allen Pukepuke. The two men both sing at their clients' services.
He says it sets them apart from other people in the industry.
"It just adds something to a service."
The self-confessed Motown and soul music fan says he grew up in a musical family and sang in kapa haka groups when he was younger.
He's always watched Homai te Pakipaki but never thought he would end up on the show himself.
The show goes live to air on Maori Television tonight at 8.30pm.
Winners are decided by text vote. Text to 368 the word paki then leave a space before adding the number of your favourite singer.
- Western Leader
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