People flocked to church on Saturday night but it was pop music not preaching that pulled the crowds.
Kiwi musician Dave Dobbyn performed before a capacity crowd of more than 500 at the Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary.
The event, called Carrie's Concert, was a fundraiser for CanTeen and the Child Cancer Foundation. More than $7000 was estimated to have been collected.
The organiser, Carrie Allen, 12, approached Dobbyn as part of her honours programme at Devon Intermediate.
Tickets for the event sold out a week in advance, and seating was at a premium.
Extra chairs were brought in and placed alongside wooden pews.
A stage extended out from the altar and those attending included families, cathedral parishioners, MP Jonathan Young and New Plymouth Mayor Harry Duynhoven.
A host of support acts included the Devon Intermediate kapa haka group, Frankley School choir, a choir from New Plymouth Girls' High School, young ballet dancers and members of the Agape youth group.
Joining Dobbyn on stage was New Plymouth musician Victoria Girling-Butcher, along with Haddon Smith and Ross Burge.
During the evening, those affected by last week's Paritutu rock climbing tragedy were remembered.
Dobbyn summed up the sombre mood when he expressed his hope that families and friends of the victims would find some comfort.
It wasn't all serious stuff. On stage Dobbyn was chatty and relaxed, sharing anecdotes and happily singing the former top-rating Slice of Heaven with a group of school students.
Speaking after the concert Girling-Butcher said Dobbyn was moved by the experience.
“It was really meaningful for him.
"Taranaki is dear to him. He's spent a little bit of time at Parihaka and appreciates the region's history and beauty.”
She said Dobbyn was also blown away by the strength and composure of Carrie Allen, who is affected by a rare cancer called rhabomyosarcoma.
Girling-Butcher said the only other time she had performed inside the cathedral was as a youngster taking part in an arts festival event.
She said Saturday's event was “poignant” for her.
“I love working with Dave, so to perform with him for a special event in my home town was quite meaningful.”
Jamie Allen, Taranaki Cathedral's dean, said it was a night no-one would forget.
He thanked Dobbyn's agent Lorraine Barry as well as the band and businesses, organisations and individuals who had volunteered their time and services for the evening.
“They played so beautifully and lovingly . . . especially in this week of profound tragedy in our community.
"Your song - and all those who took part - brought us hope and light. Perhaps nobody but Dave could have got this so right.”
- © Fairfax NZ News
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