New Zealand's Got Talent winner Renee Maurice was close to ditching her Wellington singing tutor job before taking out the $100,000 grand prize.
The Upper Hutt 22-year-old said she was in a state of shock and disbelief after beating 11 other finalists to win the third season of the talent show competition last night.
The singing sensation has been tight-lipped about her win since Thursday night when the decider episode was filmed. Only she, along with her parents and a few "trusted" friends, found out her fate.
The win came at the right time, with her mother unable to work because of poor health.
Her father had been the only one working fulltime, helped out by the "little bit" Renee earned tutoring.
"I was at the point where I was thinking of getting a real job to help earn some more money," she said.
Her win means she can pay off her parents' debt and take a holiday to New York to finally fulfil her dream of seeing a Broadway show.
It will also give her some financial security to keep teaching and singing.
"It's really hard to have a career in music in any part of the world, but especially in New Zealand where there aren't many outlets.
"Competitions like New Zealand's Got Talent are really important to help give people a leg up."
Silhouette, the Christchurch dance couple Kate and Lei'ataua Limuloa, took second place last night followed by 14-year-old singer and guitarist Jenny Mitchell, from Gore.
Fellow Wellington region finalists vying for the title were Upper Hutt's Rob Innes and Masterton's Cruize Karaitiana.
Maurice's rendition of the Dreamgirls classic And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going in the grand final was a risky decision given she had never performed it before, she said.
"I knew if I could do it well it would be something special so I decided to be brave and put myself out there."
Maurice had previously auditioned for The X Factor show earlier this year, but only made it as far as the boot camp.
"It's quite comical for my family that I have won this after what happened with X Factor.
"To me it was always quite apparent that X Factor wasn't the right fit. They're looking for a certain mould that I wasn't."
Sony have rights to sign any of the finalists from the show.
- The Dominion Post
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