Palmerston North singer wins Voice of Angel title
Every Sunday the soulful sounds of a Palmerston North parish resonate down Cuba St as the Voice of Christ Full Gospel Church of Samoa praise the Lord and practise their harmonies.
More than 60 churchgoers gather in the green hall for their weekly service filled with prayer-filled piping and practice.
The congregation is filled with sweet-sounding singers, but among the more melodious is 19-year-old Vaiipu Neemia who trumps them all with his dulcet tones.
This year, Mr Neemia came home with the title of "the angel's voice" and a trophy which reaches his hips when it sits on the ground.
He earned the silverware and the label at the church's week-long annual conference in Auckland during the new year.
He lined up alongside hundreds of other singers from New Zealand and Australia to take part in the solo singing competition called The Voice of an Angel.
With singers aged between 10 and 25 and participants pulled from more than 23 churches in New Zealand and Australia, Mr Neemia was astounded he took the title.
"It was the first time I had entered and didn't expect to win at all - it was a pretty good feeling though."
Mr Neemia cannot only belt out a hymn, but he has also got a pair of dancing shoes and knows some fancy footwork.
He was part of the parish's youth dancing group, called Soldiers of the Cross, which won the conference's senior dancing section.
Church lay preacher Vaomu Ioane said he was extremely proud of the how the parish performed at the national conference.
"They're pretty good when they're on stage. We want to thank God for giving our youths the patience, skills and the courage to sing and dance in front of all those people and the Manawatu community for their kind hearts and donations helping us get our youth groups to Auckland."
Mr Ioane said the church was now working on compilations for next year's conference and willing to do community work to help raise money.