Stage Challenge wows as children promote personal growth and camaraderie
Hundreds of young performers dazzled before a big crowd in Palmerston North for the Stage Challenge Manawatu final.
In Stage Challenge's 25th year, 16,000 high school students lined up to dance, act and present design spectaculars in eight-minute performances at 11 regional finals.
The Manawatu final took place on Friday, with acts promoting healthy eating, personal growth and camaraderie.
Ohau School was one of two schools taking part in the junior, J Rock, section. The other was Levin Intermediate.
Ohau pupils took the audience on a journey through childhood, finishing at the pupils' first year of high school.
Lead performer Charlee Barr, 12, battled her way through the performance with a knee injury as she didn't want to miss out on the experience of being on stage with her peers.
She and other final year pupils led the team of 7- to 12-year-olds as they danced their way through primary school graduation and took thier first steps at high school.
The theme of growth was relatable to people at all stages in life who pass milestones such as graduation.
Ohau pupil Paige Little, 12, said it was fun to be able to perform on a stage.
It was great to have the lights on the pupils and just enjoy the moment, she said.
Event manager Olivia Kinane said the competition provided an opportunity to encourage young people's creativity and expression.
"It gives the youth the perfect chance to showcase their talent while gaining invaluable life experience."
Rangitikei College's Teenagers with Attitude group hoped to build on last year's success where they scooped five awards.
Brylee Coley, 16, who plays the main character, said the group did a lot of hip hop in 2016, so they added more dance styles this year.
"We do contemporary, hip hop, jazz and salsa."
The group followed a new girl who struggled to make friends as she was surrounded by "stereotypical" high school groups, Brylee said.
She spends time with the plastics, nerds, bad boys, and popular kids, but doesn't fit in with any of them. Then she becomes unhappy and "loses it", but so do others from the cliques. In the end, the groups get together to support each other.
"I know what it's like to not fit in.
"The message is that even though people might have rejected you, just show them the kindness that they still deserve and they'll show it back to you eventually.
"It's so relevant to every teenager."
Eight teams competed in the Manawatu final, including Manawatu College, Rangitikei College, Horowhenua College, Waiopehu College and Wanganui High School teams.
Levin Intermediate promoted healthy eating in their performance by encouraging people to cut out refined sugars.
Waiopehu College, in Levin, took out first place.
National Stage Challenge winners are decided using judging notes from the regional finals, and will be announced in July.