Big win has Auckland teen transfixed

17:00, Jun 01 2014
khona va'aga gray
IN FINE VOICE: Khona Va'aga Gray of Auckland won first overall in the Intermediate section for her vocal solo performance.

Golden girl Khona Va'aga-Gray will be trying to squeeze in a few hours sleep this Queen's Birthday.

The 16-year-old had to get up early to fly home to Auckland yesterday morning, just a few hours after being named the overall intermediate winner at the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards.

Khona, who also won the intermediate vocal solo category, said she was surprised to hear her name called as the overall winner.

"I was shocked. I almost didn't move from my seat."

As well as an acoustic guitar and a cash prize, Khona was awarded an extra $500, donated by the Topp Twins to encourage young musicians.

The money would either be put towards a family trip or towards schooling, Khona said.


Guitarist Joseph Balfe was named overall runner-up of the intermediate section, while Gore girl Jenny Mitchell went home with five category prizes, the most claimed by any junior or intermediate competitor.

Hundreds of music fans turned out to watch the 26 junior and intermediate finalists show off their skills at the Gore Town and Country Club on Saturday night.

Brianna Hedley, 10, of Gore, won the overall junior prize, after winning the junior country rock category.

The West Gore School pupil said she was most excited about winning an acoustic guitar as part of her prize. "I was actually going to buy a guitar but I just won one."

She named the Topp Twins - whom she was able to meet - and Taylor Swift among her idols, and was looking forward to taking a break after the hectic weekend.

The Freeze Ya Bits Off Busking Competition finals were also held on Saturday night, with another youngster, Ocean Waitokia, of Ashburton, taking the audience vote.


Junior overall winner: Brianna Hedley
Junior Country Rock: Brianna Hedley
Junior Gospel: Jade Gibson
Junior Duet: Abella
Junior Vocal Solo: Ocean Waitokia
Junior Gore Country Club Member with the most points: Abella
Intermediate overall winner: Khona Va'aga-Gray
Intermediate runner up: Joseph Balfe
Intermediate Country Rock: Zoe Scott
Intermediate Gospel: Jenny Mitchell
Intermediate Duet: Nicola and Jenny Mitchell
Intermediate Vocal Solo: Khona Va'aga-Gray
Intermediate Gore Country Club Member with the most points: Jenny Mitchell

Freeze Ya Bits Off Busking Competition Results: Schools Section – Mataura Primary School
Under-14 Open Runner Up: Nicola Mitchell
Under-14 Open Winner: Ocean Waitokia
Under-14 Instrumental Runner Up: Emily Irwin
Under-14 Instrumental Winner: David de Klerk
Under-14 Overall Winner: Ocean Waitokia
Unplugged Runner Up: Just Us Five
Unplugged Winner: Sharon, Gina & Lesley
Plugged Runner Up: Jaydin & Dani
Plugged Winner: Joseph Balfe
Audience Vote: Ocean Waitokia

The Southland Times