Talented teen has eyes on Nashville
She's most comfortable on stage, with a mic in hand, belting out the tunes to her favourite country music song, but Rangitikei College student Tori Tuau has a lot more going on than just her love of lyrics.
The 15-year-old was born and raised in Marton, and says her feet were tapping along to all types of different tunes when she was a kid.
She remembers going for rides in her uncle's truck and listening to Stevie Wonder and Prince Tui Teka playing on the radio.
The whirlwind romance with music, singing and songwriting began from those afternoon hum-alongs, she says.
"I've been brought up round all sorts of music and I love it, it brings everybody together."
Tori says the power of music has helped her deal with a troubled start to life.
When she was 3, she moved to live with her aunty and uncle Lani and Phillip Peacock.
She uses those early years as inspiration for songwriting and music composition; it provides an expressive release, she says.
"I hate having things bottled up, I like to let it out in a positive way and I guess that's my music," she says.
Her friends and classmates used to give Tori stick when she first took up country music, but now she says they appreciate her talents.
In fact, Tori won the school talent quest this year for a song she wrote called Never be the girl for you.
When asked what it was about, she sighs and explains it's about an old boyfriend who got on the wrong side of the track.
"He's left school now, he got into a bit trouble."
The year 11 student is a part of a two-piece country western band called Marton's Rainbow Ranch Girls, and has appeared in shows and competitions all around the country.
She's been the warm-up act at the Bulls Wear-a-bull Arts show, has starred in New Plymouth's Traditional Country Music Festival, and she'll be performing at Marton's Country Music Festival on November 24.
Last year, she won accolades at the Gore Country Music Club's New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards for intermediate duet with her band-mate Talei Lewaruarua, and she also scooped an individual prize in the intermediate New Zealand composition section.
The year before that, Tori and Talei were in Iowa, United States, for the Rural Roots Music Commission, where they took home International Youth CD of the Year for their compilation Don't Fence Us In.
But, Tori's talents don't stop there.
She is this year's board of trustees representative, one of the youngest Rangitikei College has seen, and a talented sportswoman.
She plays in the school's top basketball team, captains the senior B netball team, started touch last week and has competed in inter-school athletics, cross country and swimming events.
Long term she wants to return to the States and make her way to Nashville to live like Taylor Swift.
If that falls through, she wants to study sports science at Massey University.
Short term she says she wants to keep improving with her music and continue to make people happy.
"When you're singing you can do whatever you like, everyone's so happy, there's just no troubles."
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