Clara Van Wel wins New Zealand's Got Talent
'This whole journey has just been amazing'
Marlborough teenager Clara van Wel has been crowned the winner of this year's New Zealand's Got Talent.
The 15-year-old Blenheim schoolgirl wins a cash prize of $100,000 as well as a recording contract and a new car.
She could not believe she had been crowned the winner, saying "Can someone pinch me please?"
"This whole journey has just been amazing," she said.
The winner was chosen by a public vote, which included tens of thousands of text votes in the last days before the cut-off.
The final was filmed on Thursday and the winner kept under wraps until the show aired tonight.
People had taken to Van Wel's Facebook fan page to offer their congratulations.
Tracy Evans wrote: "You are amazing Clara and deserved to win tonight. I wish you well and hope to see a CD out soon."
Grace Lawson said "Congrats! You made all of Marlborough proud!"
Twitter was also exploding with the news. Throughout the episode, NZGT was trending, and since being named winner, van Wel has held the fourth and eighth trending spots.
Early in the show the top three were named which along with Van Wel, included singers Jessie Hillel and Evan Sinton.
Judge and former UB40 frontman Ali Campbell earlier said the New Zealand voters "got it right".
Throughout the first half of the series, Campbell and fellow judges, Kiwi supermodel Rachel Hunter and Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison, selected the acts who were to make it through to the semi finals.
The show has been open to public voting from the semis on, and after Van Wel was crowned, Campbell said New Zealand had "made the right decision".
In the one-hour finale, more than a dozen acts took to the stage, including the top three who together performed Gotye and Kimbra's hit Somebody I Used to Know.
Kiwi Artist Dane Rumble performed his latest single Tonight, and Campbell also took to the stage to perform Jackson 5 classic Maybe Tomorrow with a reggae twist.
Some of the more memorable earlier contestants, such as Billy the one-man-band and 9-year-old Ashburton yodeler Ocean Waiokia also gave final performances.
The show's host, Tamati Coffey, did his best Psy impersonation, almost taking a dancer out in the process, as he and Hunter performed the world-famous horse dance from the video for Gangnam Style.
Since its inception in 2006, the show has become one of the fastest growing television franchises in the world.
New Zealand's version has not been without its drama - favourite Dunedin singer Kylie Price was dumped from the show after she refused to sign an exclusive contract preventing her from taking part in other performances.
According to TVNZ, ratings for past episodes have topped one million, but figures for tonight’s show were not expected to be known until tomorrow morning.
Neilson figures suggested the debut episode pulled in an average audience of 934,820 viewers at any one point, but TVNZ said the first episode attracted all up over 1.4 million Kiwis, making it the most watched debut episode of a TV entertainment series in the past eight years.
NEW ZEALAND’S GOT TALENT TOP 12
1. Clara van Wel - singer
2. Jessie Hillel - singer
3. Evan Sinton - singer
4. J Geeks - dance crew
5. Fletcher Oxford - singer
6. Big Dane - singer
7. Mihirangi Fleming - singer
8. Olivia Turner - singer
9. Dudley Fairbrass - singer
10. Tawaroa Kawana - singer
11. Logan Walker - singer
12. Zane and Degge - jugglers
- An earlier version of this story reported that this was the first season of New Zealand's Got Talent. This was incorrect. The first season screened in 2008.
Is the region better served by having multiple events over one weekend or spread out throughout the year?Related story: (See story)