In 2007, former Picton woman Renee Maurice was asked where she imagined herself in 10 years' time.
"I have no idea so I will be very vague," she told the Marlborough Express. "I imagine myself in 10 years in a beautiful place, with beautiful people, doing beautiful things and making the most of every second."
Last night, Ms Maurice, 22, was perhaps in the happiest place in her life as she was crowned the 2013 winner of TV talent show New Zealand's Got Talent.
Her win, which comes with a $100,000 prize, makes her the second Marlburian to take the grand final, after Blenheim teenager Clara van Wel was named winner last year.
Ms Maurice, who now lives in Upper Hutt, said she was shocked at the result: "I'm seeing my family there, I'm so overwhelmed, and so happy I can do this for them."
Her win means she can pay off her parents' debt and visit New York to 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," she said.
Ms Maurice, who was a favourite with the crowd from the get-go, left Picton with her parents John and Patrice when she was 17. The former Queen Charlotte College pupil appeared in concerts and gigs regularly in Picton and Blenheim and was a prolific songwriter. She released CDs More Than I Can Say in 2004 and Dedications in June 2006.
Ms Maurice has fought the odds. At the age of 6 she was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition and had several operations. In December 2001 she was badly injured in a car crash on the Picton Elevation, in which her grandmother and uncle were killed.
But she always credited friends and family for pushing her on and in 2005 she was selected to travel to Los Angeles as part of StarJam, an organisation which helps young Kiwis share their talents.
And now, her star is shining brighter than ever.
She said her rendition of the 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. "I knew if I could do it well it would be something special so I decided to be brave and put myself out there."
- The Marlborough Express
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